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The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Pink Carnation Series #7)

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Overview

Despite her dear friend Jane Austen's warning against teaching, Arabella Dempsey accepts a position at a girls' school in Bath, just before Christmas. She hardly imagines coming face-to-face with French aristocrats and international spies.

Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation-has blundered into danger before. When Turnip and Arabella find their Christmas pudding yielding a cryptic message, ...

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The Mischief of the Mistletoe (Pink Carnation Series #7)

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Overview

Despite her dear friend Jane Austen's warning against teaching, Arabella Dempsey accepts a position at a girls' school in Bath, just before Christmas. She hardly imagines coming face-to-face with French aristocrats and international spies.

Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh-often mistaken for the elusive spy known as the Pink Carnation-has blundered into danger before. When Turnip and Arabella find their Christmas pudding yielding a cryptic message, they are launched on a Yuletide adventure. Will they find poinsettias-or peril?

2011 RITA Winner for Regency Historical Romance

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The delightful latest entry in the Pink Carnation series finds bumbling Turnip Fitzhugh in over his head when he visits sister Sally at boarding school, where a chance encounter with school mistress Arabella Dempsey lures the siblings into a complex web of espionage and derring-do. Guest appearances by Dempsey's best friend Jane Austen and characters from previous installments of the series round out the laugh-out-loud holiday-themed romance of intrigue. Readers familiar with the series will relish this newest installment and rejoice that Turnip has finally been given his due and a wonderful foil in Arabella. While readers never feel that the espionage aspect would actually put anyone in real danger, it definitely makes for an exciting story. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Loosely based on an unfinished Jane Austen novel, The Watsons, this holiday entry to Willig's Napoleonic-era series finds series character Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh and schoolteacher Arabella Dempsey stumbling across a Christmas pudding that may contain a hidden message of national importance. Willig is a talented scholar of the times as well as a gifted storyteller. Her latest will attract her "Pink Carnation" fans, readers who enjoy lighthearted historical fiction, and Austen aficionados. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/10.]
Kirkus Reviews

In this seventh installment in the Regency romantic suspense series, Willig (The Betrayal of the Blood Lily, 2010, etc.) refreshes her formula for a lighthearted and sweet holiday romance.

It is Christmas, 1803, and the charming Arabella Dempsey is not looking forward to the holidays. The oldest daughter of an impoverished Bath parson, Arabella had been living in London with her well-to-do aunt. But not only has the aunt married a much younger officer—the Captain Musgrave, who had previously paid attention to Arabella—she has since made it clear that Arabella, after years of virtual servitude, will not inherit a fortune. Over her friend Jane Austen's objections, Arabella takes a teaching job in a girl's school, where she literally runs into the wealthy and handsome older brother of one of her charges, uncovering a spy plot involving encoded schoolbooks and a message wrapped rather stickily in a Christmas pudding. As the holidays begin, and Arabella's attendance is required at one last function, both espionage and romance unfold, all under the knowing eyes of Arabella's aspiring novelist friend. While Willig's series has been distinguished by its Austen-like wit and historical accuracy, its gimmick of upperclass spies in the Napoleonic Wars had grown increasingly strained. In this holiday-themed volume, Willig smartly recharges the series by stepping back in time—the action of this installment takes place between the fourth and fifth books of the series. She also changes the usual setup by substituting a goodhearted but clumsy fool as her hero. Although many assume the foppish Reginald Fitzhugh is in fact the fabled spy, the Pink Carnation, in part because of his ornate floral waistcoats, the aptly nicknamed Turnip is exactly what he seems, a sweet klutz. But a gentlemanly klutz who can win the heart of Willig's more intelligent heroine with his affable chivalry.

A shift of focus away from espionage and toward Jane Austen makes for a fun, fresh installment in a successful series.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525951872
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 10/28/2010
  • Series: Pink Carnation Series , #7
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Lauren Willig
Lauren Willig is the author of six previous Pink Carnation novels. She has a graduate degree in English history from Harvard and a J.D. from Harvard Law School, though she now writes full time. Willig lives in New York City.

Biography

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."

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      March 28, 1977
    2. Place of Birth:
      Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    1. Education:
      B.A., Yale University, 1999; M.A., Harvard University, 2001
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 71 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 72 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Laura Willig provides a fresh entry due to Turnip who is a sort of Regency Inspector Clouseau

    In 1803, Reginald "Turnip" Fitzhugh visits his sister Sally at the Climson Select Seminary for Young Ladies, a boarding school she attends in Bath. He meets and his attracted to the school's new mistress Arabella Dempsey who accepted a position there over the objection of her best friend Jane.

    Mistaking Turnip for the Pink Carnation, Arabella persuades the Fitzhugh siblings to help her with a bit of espionage at Farley Castle though he is unaware of why she invited him to join her there. As the trio works their mission, Arabella introduces blundering Turnip to her BFF Miss Austen. Feeling as if he fell off a wagon, Turnip works hard to prove he is worthy of Arabella.

    Satirizing the Pink Carnation series (see The Secret History of the Pink Carnation), Laura Willig provides a fresh entry due to Turnip who is a sort of Regency Inspector Clouseau. Although the espionage subplot is secondary as is the delightful Ms. Austen "correspondence" with Arabella and her unfinished novel as anchors rather than leads, fans will want to spend the twelve days of Christmas with Turnip and Arabella at Dovetail estate.

    Harriet Klausner

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2014

    Hysterical Historical

    You don't expect a historical-fiction-mystery-romance to have you laughing, but I did. I always knew I liked Turnip.

    JANE AUSTEN! Worth it for that alone.

    And great news for Geoff and Letty!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 20, 2012

    I loved this adorable Christmas romance featuring the unlikelies

    I loved this adorable Christmas romance featuring the unlikeliest of heroes, Turnip!  I definitely laughed out loud at the antics and was sad to see the novel end.  My only consolation is that Ms. Willig seems to have written one last scene for Turnip and Arabella.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 7, 2011

    Loved it!

    I've read all the books in this series and wasn't expecting this one to be my favorite, but it is! A bit of a different flavor than the others...not as spicy, but oh so sweet!

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  • Posted March 6, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    My favorite so far!

    I fell in love with Miss Arabella and Turnip! These characters are so endearing. The book moves at a quick, but lovely, pace and is filled with intrigue and a dash of romance. This is my favorite book in the series so far, and I've read all of them! :)

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  • Posted January 21, 2011

    Loved this book

    I think this is my favorite book in the series even though it isn't written in the typical style of the others. Turnip is a lovable character who finds himself smitten by Miss whats her name. The two characters merge beautifully and innocently. Absolutely lovely story.

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