First, and foremost, I’d like to share with you something I won from a contest Lauren Willig hosted on her website. In keeping with the Christmas-timed story of The Mischief of the Mistletoe, Dutton (the publisher) came up with the wonderful idea to create Pink Carnation Christmas ornaments–and I won one!!
The contest was to create an e-mail inbox for a character in one of the Pink Carnation books. While the winners of the ornaments were chosen at random, not for the effort or wit put into the inboxes created, I am very proud of how my inbox turned out. (I won’t copy and paste it here because 1) it’s long and 2) I don’t want to spoil anything for those who might be interested in reading the series. But if you click here, you will be able to see the page about the contest, and my entry (#27, Kristie) ) And I even got a little note with my ornament, which makes up for the fact that Willig only comes within 2 hours of where I live on her tours and I can’t bring myself to drive that far for only a few hours Maybe someday…
Okay, now for the review…
Title: The Mischief of the Mistletoe
Author: Lauren Willig
Genre: historical fiction, romance, espionage
Year Published: 2010 (Oct. 28th)
Source: personal collection
Reason for Reading: I avidly follow the Pink Carnation series (and this counted in my 2010 Resolutions)
Summary (from book jacket):
Arabella Dempsey’s dear friend Jane Austen warned her against teaching. But Miss Climpson’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies seems the perfect place for Arabella to claim her independence while keeping an eye on her younger sisters nearby. Just before Christmas, she accepts a position at the quiet girls’ school in Bath, expecting to face nothing more exciting than conducting the annual Christmas recital. 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. But when he blunders into Miss Arabella Dempsey, it never occurs to him that she might be in trouble. When Turnip and Arabella stumble upon a beautifully wrapped Christmas pudding with a cryptic message written in French–”Meet me at Farley Castle”–the unlikely vehicle for intrigue launches the pair on a Yuletide adventure that ranges from the Austens’ modest drawing room to the awe-inspiring estate of the Duke of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate twelve-day Christmas celebration. Will they find poinsettias or peril, dancing or danger? And is it possible that the fate of the British Empire rests in Arabella’s and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?
My Thoughts: While I did love this book, I didn’t love love it as much as Willig’s previous books. It felt a little slow-moving to me. Her other books have much more adventure and more danger more often in them, while this one had the most danger right toward the end and the characters did not travel far and wide. While that might not necessarily be the reason I didn’t enjoy it as much as the others, I think I know why: it was too realistic
I know! Why would I like a book less because it’s realistic?! But think of it this way. Arabella is one of four girls–as am I. They are less-well-off than others, but not poor–my family is maybe a little more comfortable than that. Arabella is a teacher–I have my teaching degree (although I don’t have a job right now). And while I already have a significant other–Nick –and he’s not a buffoon like Turnip, we definitely share awkward moments like Arabella and Turnip often did in the book. Also, the setting of the novel being in two locations not far from each other remind me of how little I travel.
But when I read books, it’s often for the same reason people watch movies: entertainment and to “get away.” I don’t have the means to travel, and books let me see new places (and different times). But because there were so many similarities in the book to my own life, I didn’t find it as entertaining as the other books.
BUT, I still loved the book–it just wasn’t up to my expectations, I guess.
My Thoughts on the Cover: LOVE IT! I just love so many of the covers for this series, which you may have recognized over my great consternation over the proposed cover for The Orchid Affair, due out in January (it was too bodice-ripper romance for the series, I felt) which I have written various posts on. Anyways, the images on the covers so often have these angelic, innocent looking faces and are just so perfect as resembling the heroines of their respective books.
A Favorite Quote:
“‘Sometimes,’ she [Arabella] said thoughtfully, ‘I think I would be happier if I thought less.’” (p245)
I can’t wait for The Orchid Affair!! It comes out January 20th