In Which We Get to Know Dara

This post was written by Dara.

manzanillaHappy Friday everyone!

I have loved getting to know all of you through this read-along and I am so sad that it is nearly over.  Maybe we can do a non-Pink read along of the stand-alone novels.  (A girl can hope, right?) I don’t know how I will follow all of the terrific moderators we have had so far, but I will try.

A bit about myself- I was a journalism and English major in undergrad and am now working and going to grad school for my Master’s in communication, so I totally know how Eloise feels in her hours and hours in the library looking for source material, and I particularly identify with her teaching partner in this book.  I have been a fan of Lauren (and the Pinks) since I stumbled upon The Secret History of the Pink Carnation in the book store, stayed up all night reading it and immediately went and ordered Black Tulip and Emerald Ring on Amazon.  I have been painfully waiting for each installment ever since.

I’m going to show my English major here, but one of the things I love most about Lauren’s writing, Pink and non-Pink, is the layers of wit that she so carefully crafts. I have found so many new, wonderful little nuggets on these re-reads (and this is by no means the first time I have re-read most of the books). Lauren makes the most brilliant references to literature, historical figures and modern culture, and she weaves them into her prose so well that sometimes I don’t even notice them among all the other tongue and cheek humor in her writing. Some of my favorite bits of humor are the modern, anachronistic references in the historical sections, like somewhere in Black Tulip (I think), Miles says “No one can get linen as fresh as Downey” (referring to his valet of course) and in one of the books there is a reference to Dooney and Burke. It is amazing to me that she can maintain this kind of humor while writing in two very different voices/tones: her modern, “Eloise” narrative voice and the historical voice. Both are totally appropriate for the time period, and totally different sounding, but they have the same wonderful level of wit and detail.

What is your favorite thing about Lauren’s writing and the world she has built for the Pink books?

The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla

Today is July 1, which means it’s time to start The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, or Pink XI in shorthand.  I’m going to hand this post over immediately to Dara, who will be moderating this month.  Today she’s sharing some fun facts and the reading schedule – on Friday, she’ll introduce herself more thoroughly.  Welcome, Dara!


Hello Pink fanatics!  I am so excited to be here with you for the LAST of our Pink for All Seasons installments in which we join the inimitable Miss Sally Fitzhugh for the Little Season in London, complete with poisonous plants and rumors of vampires.

First, the poisonous plant — I did a little research on the Manzanilla. Manchineel is the technical name of the plant; it is a poisonous plant native to Florida, the Bahamas, the Caribean, Central and South America that will cause serious bodily damage and death if you encounter it in any form. The name manchineel is sometimes seen written “mancinella,” and comes from the present-day Spanish name “manzanilla de la muerte,” meaning little apple of death. The word manzanilla alone, however, refers to chamomile, which has flowers that closely resemble daisies. So, if you ask for manzanilla tea, make sure you are getting real chamomile tea, not mancinella tea of death!

Second, and much more exciting, the vampires – You would think that by the time we got to this book I would have learned to trust Lauren, but when she announced that this would be a vampire book, I had visions of Twilight, teenage girls screaming and other horrors. Much similar, I imagine, to how Miss Gwen must have felt after the publishing of The Convent of Orsino.  Luckily for all of us, Miss Gwen (and Lauren) would never allow such shenanigans in any book she is involved in and Sally is no screaming fan girl.   So, with no further ado, let’s get started.

Here is the reading schedule for the month:

Week 1: Prologue and Chapters 1-7

Week 2: Chapters 8-14

Week 3: Chapters 15-21

Week 4: Chapters 22-28 and the extra goodies in the back.

Happy Reading!

Pink X: Ask the Author


Alright – Miss Gwen had her chance to ask the author of the Pink Carnation series her questions. Now it’s your opportunity! What do you want to know about William, Gwen, and the revelation that Colin is descended from the Selwicks AND the Meadows-Reids? Lauren has graciously agreed to pop by today and answer any questions that you leave in the comments section. So ask away! But form a line and keep things orderly, or Miss Gwen will be reigning us in with that parasol of hers.

As always, the Pink Fairy will be awarding a lucky commenter on today’s post with a themed Pink X mug.

Thanks again to Lauren for hanging out with us, and to all of you for the Pink love and enthusiasm.

Pink X: Dream Casting

Welcome back, Miss Eliza!


Miss Gwen might be the only character I feared to get wrong. She does have a way with a parasol and I have very bruisable flesh. Unlike some other readers I had always pictures Miss Gwen in her late 30s or her early 40s, so I didn’t have this presumption working against me. My first choice years ago was Maggie O’Neill because of her wonderful job in the Billie Piper version of Mansfield Park. While a fabulous actress, she is a little too blond and busty, and has a tendency to be the killer on any murder mystery she’s in, which might actually delight Miss Gwen, but I felt it just wouldn’t do. Then when I first read The Passion of the Purple Plumeria I started to think that Lucy Cohu would be great. She’s another fabulous actress who I was drawn too because of the denied passion of Gwen calling out to other similar roles she has had, but, in the end, too short and too busty. Knowing the re-read was happening I started to become a little desperate. Who would be Miss Gwen!?!

I started to think about what defines Miss Gwen. She has a core of iron, as if her backbone was made of the steel her parasol conceals. She has to be fabulous with the delivery of a put down. She has to have wit, height, yet a secret vulnerability. Going with these traits I started to think Lena Headey, who plays Cersei Lannister on Game of Thrones, might work. Seriously, watch how she can just deliver a smack down without even saying a word, even if Miss Gwen says she’s never mastered the art of the single raised eyebrow I think we could let it slide. Though while watching a recent episode right when I had started to re-read The Passion of the Purple Plumeria I began to second guess myself. Later that night I was curled in bed reading and I was struck by how much Miss Gwen reminded me of the Queen of Thorns, as played by Diana Rigg, on Game of Thrones.  I thought was picturing a younger Diana, but then I realized it wasn’t Diana at all, it was Diana’s daughter Rachael Stirling; who most people know because of her stellar work on The Bletchley Circle. She’s elegant, witty, tall, has a husky voice, and has somehow become the perfect actress for this role in my mind. Therefore, despite much thought and much backtracking, I have found my Miss Gwen. I hope you approve, she might have a few choice words if you don’t.


As for William… I got preoccupied with his red hair, so much so that there was literally a ginger parade of actors going through my head. Tony Curran, Toby Stephens, James Cosmo, on and on, but all were too young or too old or just plain wrong, despite all being amazing talents I might add. I was so caught up on hair that I forgot that hair can be dyed. Duh.  So once I stopped trying to cast by hair and instead cast by character I instantly knew who Colonel William Reid was. He was Anthony Stewart Head who played Giles on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The reason I believe Tony is perfect is because of his acting range, he can do comedy, drama, singing, whatever you have, he can do, and do it riding a horse. More importantly, he has this inner mirth that is infectious. When he smiles and his eyes start to crinkle at the edges and then he tilts his head back to laugh, I just see the similarities to William and know that no one else would do William justice, he’s a likeable rogue. Plus, can I get a hell yeah for how well he’s aged? Rarely have I ever wanted the villain to win on Warehouse 13, but Paracelsus can win any day with me.

Miss Gwendolyn Meadows played by Rachael Stirling
Colonel William Reid played by Anthony Head

Pink X Week 4 in Review

This is, somehow, Paige’s last post for Pink X.  In addition to sharing your thoughts about the end of the book, please join me in saying a big THANK YOU to Paige for her guidance through this month.  She has done a great job!

plumeriaSharlene3Graphic by Sharlene (and coat of arms designed by Pink reader Shelli Armstrong)

Happy Friday, everyone! Doesn’t it seem impossible that this is the final recap for The Passion of the Purple Plumeria? These past four weeks and 400-plus pages of this novel have flown by. It has been my favorite reread of this book, and that is because I was able to share the experience with fellow Pink fans. Reading is typically a solitary adventure and I am naturally a bit of a loner. The fact that I am typing this as part of a group reread in a public forum speaks to how much I love Pink and how much this series has meant for so many of us. For different reasons, it has touched us enough to reread these books and discuss them with “virtual” strangers. It has been great becoming acquainted during this read along. I am fond of the discussions that we have had over the past 10 months, and I am looking forward to more as we move into Pink XI and XII.

As I was reading these final chapters, the highlight for me was the reappearance of familiar characters. I loved seeing Amy and Richard, Miles and Henrietta, and Stiles again! For real, as soon as I read anything about floppy blond hair or ginger biscuits I get extremely excited. When the Purple Gentian himself shows up, forget about it, I practically swoon. How about you? Who were you most excited to see again?

The thing that makes this so huzzah-worthy is that it is done in such a natural way. Of course, Selwick Hall would be the logical place to run into Richard and Amy, and the characters had such a plausible reason for going there. And, of course, Dorrington Court is practically in the neighborhood, certainly on the way to Selwick Hall in Sussex if one was traveling in a carriage from Brighton and had to find a shortcut due to being attacked by brigands. It is gloriously perfect. There is no stretching of plot and no gratuitous characters showing up to be scene hogs. There was a purpose for everyone to have been there. Clearly, we want to see our beloved characters again, whenever we can. I should probably put my fan girl pom-poms away, but Lauren did this so cleverly. And a spy school! In books about spies! The possibilities are endless.

What did you think about the reappearance of those earlier characters? Did Lauren not get them perfectly? In a version of Dream Casting, what character(s) would you most like to see again?

Personally, I am tickled and delighted that Colin is also descended from Miss Gwen, and that Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid’s youngest daughter is named Plumeria and marries Richard’s son. I am delighted that the copy of Convent of Orsino is Plumeria’s tower and holds the jewels of Berar for Colin and Eloise…and Jeremy. I particularly like this quote, “Colin’s ancestors, like all avid readers, were book double stackers.” Hello! Can we get double stacker tee shirts or something? I always thought the double stacking was my own little secret, but now I am part of a cool tribe!

I hope that you have an excellent weekend! Next week, we have Miss Eliza’s Dream Casting on the 29th, so get your casting lists together so we can have Pink Fight Club, ha ha ha. Then, on the 30th we have Ask the Author with Lauren!

Pink X: Two Rogues Together

This post was written by Paige.

Pink x postcard

Hello everyone! I was talking with Ashley about some ideas and she reminded me about Lauren’s post on her website about breaking the rules as an author. That post is here if you want to take a look. I am so grateful that Lauren broke the “rules” when she made Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid the lead characters in Pink X. I tend to like rule breakers, at least when the rule breaking results in such an engaging story as The Passion of the Purple Plumeria. The biggest convention that is broken is that both Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid are middle-aged. It is still not common for both the heroine and the hero to be middle-aged, particularly in a swashbuckling adventure. I am going on the assumption that everyone finds Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid as fabulous as I do, but is there anyone that did not enjoy the age aspect?

Gwen is 45 and William is 54. They have lived a lot before they find each other. They each have a certain amount of “baggage” that they carry with them into their relationship. Obviously, every character carries hang-ups and baggage. In this story, though, the characters are aware of their baggage from their youth. William and Gwen have each had heartache and personal trauma. In their own way, each of them blames themselves for poor choices made in their youth, and even things that they were not responsible for. Though they know themselves well, they are hesitant due to self-perceptions.

I wonder whether the 20-something year old Gwen would have fallen for the younger William, had their paths crossed, assuming they were both available? What do you think? Gwen has described herself at that age as being sarcastic and spoiled and willful, to a degree that is not tempered with the wisdom of experience. William has described himself as being a brash peacock as a younger man. How has the maturity that comes with time and age done for Gwen and William?

I like the image of Gwen and William, two rogues and adventurers, going forward together. Both of them possessing a fierce sense of honor and loyalty. Their past experiences have made them more appreciative of each other. As William reflects, “Odd the twists and turns through which one wandered to come to where one was. Right now, all the reversals, all the disappointments and missteps, felt like nothing but a prelude to this, this moment, this bed, this woman.”

This was meant as a jest, but I think that this is not a bad way to woo Gwen: “Come bicker with me and be my love.” There is no foolery and no fustian about it. Having read their story, there is much between the words. They are a true duo. Where one sword goes, so does the other. They are not young, perhaps, but they have much to share with the “youngsters.”

Jane in Pink X


Good morning!

I’ve been enjoying reading Paige’s recaps and the conversations that everyone is having about these last few chapters of The Passion of the Purple Plumeria. It seems like a lot of us were really struck by how much Jane has been withholding from Miss Gwen and the ways that this revelation affected our plucky heroine. I remember reading this section for the first time and being surprised and (okay, nobody throw anything at me) a little disappointed. Jane seemed so cold! Coming right on the heels of a pretty definitive brush-off when Augustus tried to declare himself, my affection for Jane wavered. This made me very, very nervous.

Taking yet another trip through Lauren’s Pink archives calmed me down a bit. Two years ago, when Pink X was in the pre-publication stages, Lauren shared a “mega-outtake” of the book on her site. This outtake was a big chunk of Purple Plumeria’s Chapter Nine, and it was written from Jane’s perspective. Evidently, Lauren’s original plan was to have several chapters in Pink X written from Jane’s point of view, but then she realized that having Jane’s voice in the mix took the focus away from Miss Gwen and Colonel Reid.

Having read the outtake, I agree with Lauren’s choice, but I’m also relieved. Thanks to that outtake and the excerpt of Pink XII at the end of The Mark of the Midnight Manzanilla, I’m feeling much more sanguine about Jane. I’m confident that Jane’s story is going to be a great one, and that some of her actions that seemed questionable when we saw them through our other heroines’ eyes will be clarified. Basically, I can’t wait for August.

What do you all think?

Pink X Week 3 in Review

This post was written by Paige.

plumeria flower4

What kind of person travels with a trunk full of billiard balls? That was certainly Colonel Reid’s question during these chapters. The answer, of course, is The Pink Carnation and The Purple Plumeria. But Colonel Reid only knows them as Miss Jane Wooliston and her chaperone, Miss Gwendolyn Meadows. As far as he knows, the three of them are on their way to Selwick Hall in Sussex to reunite with his daughter and her friend. Can you imagine his confusion when their carriage is chased and shot at by men on horseback? And the two women shoot back?

This was the section of the book that solidified my love for Colonel Reid. He is nobody’s fool. He realizes that something is peculiar before the actual attack. After all, he did serve in the cavalry for 30 years and is a Colonel, so he has a finely-honed sense of observation. He processes quickly and reacts well to a situation he was not anticipating. His instincts and training serve him well, and he ends up kicking out the back window of the carriage and joining the defensive attack. Can you imagine what must have been going through his mind as he held Miss Gwen’s legs while she leaned out the window of the moving carriage and shot at their pursuers?

The lovely thing about Colonel Reid is that he doesn’t dwell on the why of the circumstances. As has been his pattern throughout the book so far, he assesses and follows his instincts. He also shows the depth of his his battle skills. So far, we have seen him being kind, fair, and decent. We have seen his love for his children and his affection for Miss Gwen. Granted, there was the skirmish he and Miss Gwen had with the brigands that injured him earlier in the book. But this is where we get a real sense of his military leadership. This is where we see Colonel Reid being a cavalry officer of the East India Company’s army. These are the chapters where he is described as having a piratical grin. This is where we get to see his swash and buckle, and I am all for swash and buckle.

What makes his swash and buckle so swoon-worthy for me is that Colonel Reid is not doing it for show. He is truly fighting for what he believes in. He doesn’t know exactly what the trouble is that Miss Gwen has gotten herself into, but he likes her as a person and is going to help her. Then, there is the scene in the Hellfire Club when his instinct is to rescue the girl in their ritual, even though she turns out not to be his daughter or even someone he knows because, as he says, “It’s someone’s daughter.” Colonel Reid has honor. His big fight with Miss Gwen occurs when she accuses him of not keeping watch over his own children. In reality, he sent his two daughters off to England for their protection. He also did everything in his power to ensure his sons all had decent positions and job prospects. He loves all of his children, whether they are considered legitimate or not.

Then, of course, he sees Miss Gwen as Gwendolyn. He sees her for what she is underneath all of her protective layers, and he accepts her, layers and all. As a matter of fact, he likes her and tells her that he likes her. He challenges her self-perceptions at times, but he never asks her to change. He likes that she has to have the last word and he likes that she keeps him in line. He goes so far as to recognize that her lips were not meant to be stern. He sees her close enough to notice her lips. He is the real deal. How did you feel about Colonel Reid this week? I particularly enjoyed how Lauren gives us enough of the spice of their physical relationship while keeping the “bedroom door” closed. What are your feelings?

The other major thing that caught my attention this week was the conflict and confrontation between Miss Gwen and Jane. Despite the foreshadowing earlier in the book, I was not prepared for the intense pain that would result or the huge dissonance there is between Miss Gwen’s perception of the league and mission and what Jane’s actual plans and operations are. It hurt me to see the breach in their partnership and it was like a slap in my face right along with Miss Gwen’s as she begins to realize that Jane is probably correct: Miss Gwen probably doesn’t always act with the most prudence. The swinging through curtains and leaping off balconies is adventuresome, but there is reference to times when there has been some jeopardy to the league as a result of some of Miss Gwen’s antics.

As Miss Gwen learns that what she assumes to have been a partnership is really not the case, and that Jane has not disclosed all to her, my heart was heavy. I had such empathy for Miss Gwen, yet I also felt some of the weight that Jane has on her shoulders. Miss Gwen loves Jane, and I think that Jane also cares for Miss Gwen. What were you thinking? Did you find yourself sympathizing more with either Gwen or Jane?

Other developments this week include the revelation that Colonel Reid’s son, Jack, is the Moonflower, a French spy who has recently defected and taken the jewels of Berar. Things are going to be getting even more interesting, which I could hardly have believed possible. In modern day, Colin and Eloise are still searching with Jeremy for the jewels of Berar and things are tense between Colin and Jeremy. Our cliffhanger there this week is that they came home to find the front door open and the front hall appearing to be vandalized.

Once again, there was so much that happened this week! What did you think about the visit to the theatre? Was there anything else that particularly caught your attention this week? There is so much that we can discuss! Have a lovely Friday and an enjoyable weekend!

Another Visit to Lauren’s Pink X Archives

This post was written by Paige.

plumeria flower3

Hello, fellow Pinkophiles! I am going to make a wild guess that like me most of you have spent hours reading through all of the great things on Lauren’s website. I was recently looking at some of the Plumeria features again and one of the things that tickled my fancy was the “Ask Miss Gwen” post where Lauren encouraged readers to submit questions that they would like to ask Miss Gwen. The post was written prior to the publication of Plumeria, and I find it fun to read the questions now in retrospect. So many of the questions were addressed either in the body of the storyline or were incorporated into the Readers Guide at the end of the book – “An Interview With The Author of the Convent of Orsino or How Not to Interview Miss Gwen.”

It is a good reminder of how much we learned about Miss Gwen in this novel and how differently our perceptions of her were in the first nine books. It also highlights Lauren’s authentic and generous interactions with her readers. The published “interview” in the guide is amazing perfection. It isn’t a surprise that Lauren is clever and witty, but the interview is entertaining and perfectly channels Miss Gwen. We laugh and learn a lot from this interview. I am sure that it is difficult to write something that seems so effortless and is so spot-on.

Personally, the reticule grenade section was particularly enjoyable for me. I also enjoyed hearing Miss Gwen tell why she has a penchant for purple. The reason is so obvious that I should have known all along; I have heard of “imperial purple” and I can’t imagine her settling for a color of lesser rank. I intentionally used the word “hearing” because I did clearly hear this interchange between Miss Gwen and LW as I was reading. It was a perfect script. This was my kind of Reader’s Guide!

One of Miss Gwen’s responses particularly struck me. In her Miss Gwen way, she pronounced, “Any man can wield a length of steel. So few can turn a proper phrase.” Does this not describe Colonel Reid as well as the basis of their mutual attraction? Although she was referencing herself, I am absolutely struck by how appropriate that describes Colonel Reid. Both Gwen and William have shown without a doubt that they can wield a length of steel and turn a proper phrase.

On the human-interest front, Miss Gwen neatly avoided directly answering the question of whether there had been anyone in her life between Timothy Fitzgerald and Colonel Reid, but she did state that a lady never seduces and tells. And how about that mention by LW of the strange rumors about Miss Gwen and Talleyrand? This certainly opens up the possibility that Miss Gwen, with her penchant for disguises, may have used flirtation and feminine wiles for the good of the cause. At least, that is what I think, but how about you?

Did any of you happen to have responded to that original post on Lauren’s website asking for questions? Now that we know more about Miss Gwen, are there any questions you wish you could now ask her in a follow-up interview (and do you have any guesses on how she would answer those questions)? I have to wonder if she would repeat her jumping on the settee in Madame Oprah’s salon, or whether Miss Gwen would deign to ever do another interview.

On Friday we will have a recap and discussion of chapters 13-19. Have an enjoyable week and happy reading!

Miss Gwen’s Literary Heritage

plumeria UK

I was poking around the archives on Lauren’s website a while ago, and I came across her post discussing the literary lineage of Miss Gwen. Evidently, Lauren was asked on a fairly regular basis if Miss Gwen was based on anyone that she knew. So Lauren decided to let us in on the inspiration behind our Pink X heroine. She lists these characters as her primary inspiration for Miss Gwendolyn Meadows:

  1. Lucinda Throckmorton-Jones from Judith McNaught’s Almost Heaven
  2. Amelia Peabody from Elizabeth Peters’ series beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank
  3. Beatrice Poole from Amanda Quick’s With This Ring
  4. Jacqueline Kirby from Elizabeth Peters’ series beginning with The Seventh Sinner

I’ve read books from both of the Elizabeth Peters series. I absolutely adored Amelia Peabody. Miss Gwen’s way of thinking, speaking, and relating to her hero are all very reminiscent of Amelia. And, as Lauren points out, Gwen inherited her penchant for accessorized weaponry from Amelia. If you haven’t tried this series, I highly recommend it!

I also read one of Peters’ Jacqueline Kirby books, but in this case… I was underwhelmed. I will say, in Peters’ defense, I picked up a copy of Naked Once More without having read the first three books in the series. I didn’t even know it WAS a series. So my lack of enthusiasm for Jacqueline probably stems from my nonexistent knowledge of her previous exploits. I do recognize that Lauren could easily have drawn inspiration for Miss Gwen’s larger than life personality from Jacqueline, and I’m thinking now that I should probably pick up a copy of The Seventh Sinner and see how I like it.

What about you? Have you read the stories of any of Miss Gwen’s literary ancestresses? Or do you have other characters in mind that remind you of Miss Gwen?