Des dels cercles íntims de la societat britànica fins als gratacels de Manhattan i els turons vermellosos de Kenya, els secrets d'una família es despleguen a poc a poc... Com a advocada en una gran empresa de Manhattan, Clementine Evans ha aconseguit tot el que s'ha proposat. Però les seves llargues hores dedicades a la feina li han costat el prometatge. I tot d'una, amb trenta-quatre anys, sent que la seva vida s'ensorra. Quan la família es reuneix per celebrar els noranta-nou anys de l’àvia Addie, un parent ...
Des dels cercles íntims de la societat britànica fins als gratacels de Manhattan i els turons vermellosos de Kenya, els secrets d'una família es despleguen a poc a poc... Com a advocada en una gran empresa de Manhattan, Clementine Evans ha aconseguit tot el que s'ha proposat. Però les seves llargues hores dedicades a la feina li han costat el prometatge. I tot d'una, amb trenta-quatre anys, sent que la seva vida s'ensorra. Quan la família es reuneix per celebrar els noranta-nou anys de l’àvia Addie, un parent deixa algunes pistes sobre un secret de família enterrat durant molt de temps... L'Addie va créixer a la mansió d'Ashford Park, a casa dels seus aristocràtics oncles. Tot i ser tan diferents com la nit i el dia, l'Addie i la Bea, la seva bella i extravertida cosina, van créixer com si fossin germanes. Però quin secret guarden aquelles parets? “La pedra daurada d’Ashford Park resplendia al sol, la cúpula dominava el paisatge del voltant. Unes escales a diversos nivells duien a l’entrada principal, un portal enorme, empetitit pel marc de columnes idèntiques, eclipsat per un pòrtic triangular.”
There’s nothing quaint about the “bodice ripping” romances that Lauren Willig pens in her popular Pink Carnation books. She infuses her historical love story/espionage mysteries with so much modern wit and character complexity that they transcend worn-out clichés about heaving bosoms.
Although she may not have realized it at the time, Lauren Willig had her life pretty clearly mapped out when she was a mere nine-year-old. That's when she completed her first "novel" -- 300 handwritten pages of a Nancy Drew-inspired mystery titled The Night the Clock Struck Death featuring not one, but two teenage sleuths. (Twin detectives, if you please!) She sent it off to Simon & Schuster -- who promptly sent it back. "I was utterly crushed for at least a week," the young author admits.
Crushed, perhaps, but apparently the pull of becoming a writer was considerably stronger than the sting of rejection. Several years later, while she was in grad school, Willig began work on another novel -- although she wasn't sure which novel it would be. "There were three contenders: one, the Pink Carnation; another, a mystery novel set at Yale; and the third, a historical novel set around a group of Luddites in 1812. The Yalie mystery novel nearly won out... but the image of a masked spy on a rope tipped the balance the other way, and The Pink Carnation was born."
A witty melding of espionage thriller, swashbuckler, and the kind of classic "bodice-ripping" romance novels she first discovered at the tender age of six, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation was published in 2005. The premise is irresistible: A modern grad student researching her dissertation in London stumbles on the identity of a mysterious English spy from the Napoleonic Wars. With its clever book-within-a-book format, Willig's novel was an instant sensation. Almost immediately, she penned the sequel, The Masque of the Black Tulip. Willig was off and running with a hot and sexy – not to mention bestselling -- series.
Although the Pink Carnation books build on one another, each story focuses on a different pair of lovers and can be read as a stand-alone. Willig tries to weave in any information from previous installments that might be key to understanding the characters or plot. All her books have become Romantic Times Top Picks. In 2006 Lauren was nominated for a Quill Award.
Good To Know
Even before she committed her stories to paper, Willig was amusing herself with her very own fiction in the privacy of her head. "I remember lying in bed, staring up at the underside of my canopy, composing complicated narratives complete with dialogue, generally based on whatever movie I had just seen," she told The Readers Place.com. "Star Wars spawned weeks' worth of bedtime dramas in which I starred as Princess Lea's best friend. Who would, of course, wind up with Luke Skywalker as co-ruler of the Universe -- you know what they say, if you're going to dream, dream big."
According to Willig's official biography, she is a Native New Yorker. However, she admits that this isn't entirely true being that she was actually born in Philadelphia -- a fact that her "real" Native New Yorker siblings aren't quick to let Lauren forget.
Some fun and fascinating outtakes from our interview with Willig:
"Like my modern heroine, Eloise, I spent a year in England doing research for my dissertation (mine is about Royalist conspiracies during the English Civil Wars in the 1640s), and living in a little basement flat in Bayswater. Unlike Eloise, on my very first week in London, I ate a bad kebab, and got so sick that I wound up briefly back in the States, on the same medicine they give people who have anthrax poisoning. Not exactly an auspicious beginning...."
"I still don't have a driver's license. Having grown up in Manhattan, there was never any need of it -- other than as a means of getting into bars, and learning to drive seemed a bit extreme just to get a drink. Of course, that was before I moved to Cambridge for grad school and realized that in other parts of the world, you can't just walk into the middle of the street, stick your arm up into the air, and, lo!, immediate transportation appears. Since I really don't want to have to learn how to drive, I've decided the only remedy is just to live in Manhattan for the rest of my life."
"Many years ago, at my Yale college interview, the interviewer took one look at my resume, and announced, ‘You can't be a writer.'
Getting a little panicky -- since no one takes kindly to having their life's dream flung in their face -- I blurted out, ‘Why not?'
‘Writers,' he said firmly, ‘are introverts. You,' he indicated the long list of clubs on my resume, Drama Club, Choral Club, Forensics, interschool plays and public speaking competitions, ‘are not.'"
"It is true; I've never been able to resist a stage. There are embarassing videos (which may have to be confiscated and burnt at some point) from various family weddings, where I, as a wee child, coopted the microphone to serenade the wedding guests with off-key renderings of "Memory" (from Cats). It's a wonder I lived past the age of ten without being murdered by a bride wielding a sharpened cake knife. Point me to a podium, and I can talk indefinitely (and usually do, as anyone who was with me in the Yale Political Union can verify). I simpered through Gilbert & Sullivan Society productions, taught drama to small tots through Yale Drama Hands-On Theatre Workshop, and was chairman of a debating society in college. And those were only the official performances. Recently, I appeared in a toga and bare feet (well, really a chiton, but why be picky?) in front of a hundred-odd people at the law school to argue a mock Athenian trial. And, yes, those pictures will also be confiscated and burnt -- as soon as I find out where my camera-happy friends hid them."
"I've always had trouble with the ‘writer as introvert' trope. I argued then, and still believe now, that the performative arts and creative writing have a great deal in common. After all, music, drama, public speaking, writing... all involve words! My interviewer wasn't too impressed by that argument, but there is a bit more to it than that. Singing and public speaking create an enhanced awareness for the rhythm of language. As for drama, how better to get inside one's characters' heads than to walk in their footsteps? Frequently, while writing, I'll tumble out of my chair (literally -- my chair isn't all that sturdy) and act out bits of a scene for a more concrete grasp of a character's movements. Most of all, acting, singing, and writing all involve the desire to get out there and share a story, a desire that can't be balked by the threat of rotton tomatoes, or even bad reviews."