Friday, May 25, 2012

The Garden Intrigue (Pink Carnation Book 9) by Lauren Willig

Title: The Garden Intrigue

Author: Lauren Willig
Read by: Kate Reading
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Length: 14 hours and 33 minutes
Source: Penguin Audio Review Copy – Thank-you!

Back when I still lived in Milwaukee and there was still a Borders book store downtown, I often used to pick up The Secret History of the Pink Carnation and look at it. It was the type of book that was just up my alley, but I didn’t have enough money at the time to buy it. My friend Barb has also enthusiastically endorsed this series and has told me to read it. Why have I not, especially with the Kewaunee Public Library only two short blocks from my home? I know all fellow book lovers understand that there are too many books and not enough time. I was more than a little happy to be asked if I would like to review The Garden Intrigue. Although it is the ninth book in The Pink Carnation series, I wanted to find out what all of the fuss was about. After having listened to The Garden Intrigue, I realize that I do need to read/listen to all of the previous Pink Carnation books. The Garden Intrigue was excellent.

The Garden Intrigue has dual narratives, one in Napoleonic France and the other in modern day (2004) England. In the past, Augustus Whittlesby is a British spy in the Napoleonic Court that poses as a terrible poet with a longing love for Jane Wooliston, the pink carnation. Jane’s friend, Emma Delagardie, a widowed young American socialite, finds Augustus to be quite aggravating with his prose, but also quite attractive. Emma and Jane were school friends of Napoleon’s stepdaughter and Augustus uses this connection to be invited to a party at Malmaison, Napoleon’s country home with Josephine. Augustus works quite closely with Emma writing a masque for the party, while he also looks for secret plans by Robert Fulton that Napoleon may be using to plan an invasion of England. Will Emma and Augustus find love and will Napoleon’s plans be thwarted?

Eloise is a modern day graduate student studying the Pink Carnation. She lives with her boyfriend Colin residing at his ancestral home Selwick Hall. Unfortunately tangled family relationships have resulted in a movie being filmed at Selwick Hall, much to Colin’s dismay. Eloise’s research is also being trifled with in the search for the Pink Carnation’s reputed treasure.

I LOVED this book and I definitely need to read the rest of the series. The characters were charming and unique and I found myself both interested in the past and present story lines. I love the Napoleonic (regency) era and was intrigued with the story line set in Napoleon and Josephine’s court. I especially loved the side story of Robert Fulton and his inventions. American youth are taught how he invented the first steam ship, but this is the first book I’ve ever read that truly brought him and his inventions alive. I was intrigued. I also loved the romance of the novel, Augustus and Emma played off each other brilliantly with a hate them/love them vibe. I loved how they got to know each other and could see beyond the façade that others saw. I also really enjoyed the intrigue. With so many spies at court, it’s a wonder that Napoleon was able to get anything done!

I listened to a digital audio version of this book and I thought that Kate Reading did a fantastic job of narrating the story. She had great voices for all of the characters. It had a great plot that kept me listening during my long drives to and from work . . . and doing the laundry at home. I definitely want to listen to the rest of the series if I can find them all!

Overall, The Garden Intrigue was a unique historical fiction novel with intrigue and romance. It makes for a great listening experience.


  1. Laura, I enjoyed reading your glowing review. I felt the same way when I was asked to review Outlander; it gave me a solid reason to read a book I'd wanted to read but had been postponing.

    This does sound like it would be great to listen to. I'm glad you were able to enjoy it although it's part of a long series.

  2. I can't imagine walking into a series knowing that it was up to book 9. In one way, though, you are lucky because you can now go back to the beginning and savour the books! there are a couple that I wasn't as keen on but I think now they are back up to a really high quality.

  3. Hi
    I came across this post and I found it really useful;
    Bless you for this kind of awesome info