Author Lauren Willig
Narrator: Kate Reading
Series: Pink Carnation, #7
Publisher Penguin Audio
Publication Date October 28th 2010
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 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 Dukes of Dovedale, where the Dowager Duchess is hosting the most anticipated event of the year: an elaborate 12-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 and Turnip’s hands, in the form of a festive Christmas pudding?
I had been curious about The Pink Carnation series as it has been billed as a “Jane Austen-inspired” series. Jane Austen does make a cameo via a letter but that is where the inspiration stops. I had been looking for a warm holiday read with a bit of intrigue, however, what I received was an insipid story that revolved around a Christmas pudding that never took off. The plot mainly focused on the character Turnip which the author, Lauren Willig stated fans wanted more of. Personally, I found him to be a bumbling idiot and cringed when he came on stage.
I felt it took too long to get to the spy aspect of the novel having to drag myself through the dally of missing lists, dresses, and snoops ransacking bedrooms. When we finally got to the crime-solving Willig tried to turn it into a Scarlet Pimpernel of sorts but gave up halfway through, losing direction mid-thought.
Perhaps if I had not come in mid-way through the series I would be more affable towards The Mischief of the Mistletoe. However, it just didn’t work for me and was as disappointing as receiving coal in one’s stocking.