Willig, Lauren 1977–
Willig, Lauren 1977–
MEMBER: Beau Monde (Regency chapter of Romance Writers of America).
The Secret History of the Pink Carnation (novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 2005.
The Masque of the Black Tulip (novel), Dutton (New York, NY), 2006.
WORK IN PROGRESS: A third novel featuring Eloise Kelly and the Pink Carnation.
SIDELIGHTS: Lauren Willig's first novel was rejected the first time she sent it to a publishing house. Handwritten and spanning three hundred pages, her Nancy Drew-inspired mystery was returned and her dreams of becoming a best-selling author were crushed. Fortunately, Willig did not let this rejection stop her (she was only nine years old, after all), and she has since gone on to pen two successful historical romance novels, with a third novel for the series in the works.
In The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, Eloise Kelly is a Harvard graduate student working on a dissertation about two English spies, the Scarlet Pimpernel and the Purple Gentian, who performed gallant, clandestine deeds for the British during the Napoleonic wars of the early nineteenth century. Hoping to learn as much as she can about the two spies, Eloise travels to London, where she meets Arabella Selwick-Aderly, a descendant of Lord Richard Selwick, who was the Purple Gentian. Arabella grants Eloise access to the family's papers and, after a bit of research, Eloise stumbles upon the journal of a young woman named Amy Balcourt, and learns of another, more elusive spy: the Pink Carnation. As Eloise peruses Amy's journal, readers are transported back to the nineteenth century and get to follow Amy and her cousin Jane as they travel to France in hopes of joining the Purple Gentian's league. In the meantime, Eloise delves further into her research, despite attempts by Arabella's nephew, Colin, to restrict her access to his family's hidden secrets. Not one to be deterred, Eloise perseveres and uncovers the Pink Carnation's true identity.
A critic for Kirkus Reviews termed Willig's debut novel "a sexy, smirking, determined-to-charm historicalromance." In a critique for Library Journal, Anna M. Nelson observed that Willig "has an ear for quick wit and an eye for detail." A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that the identity of the Pink Carnation seems a bit obvious, but noted that Willig "does a good job painting a picture of the tumultuous era." Booklist reviewer Kristine Huntley concluded her review by calling the novel "a decidedly delightful romp."
The Masque of the Black Tulip finds Eloise continuing her research on the Pink Carnation when she discovers correspondence between the mysterious spy and Lady Henrietta Selwick, Richard Selwick's sister, stating that a deadly French spy known only as the Black Tulip is planning a murder. Readers are once again transported back in time as Henrietta and her brother's friend, Miles, work to stop the Black Tulip before it is too late. Writing for Library Journal, Bette-Lee Fox felt that The Masque of the Black Tulip is "a bit more clichéd" than Willig's first novel, but noted that it is still "terribly clever and funny." Likewise, a Publishers Weekly critic commented that "many … will delight in this easy-to-read romp and line up for the next installment." One Kirkus Reviews contributor remarked on Willig's appealing characters and plots.
In an interview for the Barnes and Noble Web site, Willig offered this advice to writers: "Write the story you want to tell, in a way that pleases you—you, after all, are the one living with this plot and these characters for months on end…. Reading—reading broadly, in a variety of genres and styles—is the best education for any author, and the only real training is to write, write, and write some more.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, November 15, 2004, Kristine Huntley, review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, p. 558.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2004, review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, p. 1028; October 15, 2005, review of The Masque of the Black Tulip, p. 1107.
Kliatt, July, 2005, Carol Kellerman, audiobook review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, p. 56.
Library Journal, November 15, 2004, Anna M. Nelson, review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, p. 53; November 15, 2004, Tania Barnes, interview with Lauren Willig, p. 52; September 15, 2005, Danna Bell-Russell, audiobook review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, p. 100; November 1, 2005, Bette-Lee Fox, review of The Masque of the Black Tulip, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, January 24, 2005, review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, p. 223; March 7, 2005, audiobook review of The Secret History of the Pink Carnation, p. 26; October 31, 2005, review of The Masque of the Black Tulip, p. 32.
Barnes and Noble Web site, http://www.barnesandnoble.com/writers/ (February 4, 2006), "Meet the Writers: Lauren Willig" (interview).
Lauren Willig Home Page, http://www.laurenwillig.com (February 4, 2006).