The Secret History of the Pink Carnation begins with Eloise, an American girl who has traveled to England to complete her dissertation on a trio of English spies in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The spy that intrigues her the most is the Pink Carnation, an elusive and shifty fellow whose name is spattered throughout English newspapers, yet to this day hasn't been unmasked. Although she has searched through every archive and news article she can get her hands on, no clue to the Pink Carnation's identity is to be had. Fortunatly, she catches a break when Mrs. Arabella Selwick-Alderly, a descendant of the famed Purple Gentian, Lord Richard Selwick, responds to her desperate letter and agrees to let her read through some old family documents. Eloise quickly finds herself engrossed in the life of an enthusiastic young noblewoman and the dashing Purple Gentian on her search for the hidden identity of the Pink Carnation.
This book had me caught within its grasp in the first few pages. Willig creates vivid images in her readers' minds with her strong word choices. The personality of each character is portrayed in a way that is so believable it makes me want to reach out and slap them at times, and cheer for their victories at others. The novel is a mixture of adventure, mystery, romance, historical fiction, and just the right amount of humor that create a delightful read.
I gave The Secret History of the Pink Carnation 5 of 5 stars.