The Garden Intrigue

Lauren Willig. Dutton, $25.95 (400p) ISBN 978-0-525-95254-1
The latest entry in Willig’s Pink Carnation series (after The Secret History of the Pink Carnation) finds Napoleon-era secret agent Augustus Whittlesby hiding his communiqués to the English in his insipid poetry. The young American widow Emma Delagardie covers sadness and intellect with a flirtatious gaiety. Her weekly salon, where Augustus’s work is enthusiastically critiqued, is famous. And Jane Wooliston is a friend to them both, and also the Pink Carnation, another British spy. Whittlesby learns of Napoleon’s plans to reveal a secret weapon at a lavish celebration and, by collaborating with Emma and Jane on a play for the event, gets a glimpse of what he believes to be a steamship. In fact, it is something more sinister, an invention that could greatly help Napoleon to invade England. Whittlesby isn’t the only one interested in the secret; a former lover of Delagardie is intent on selling the plans to the highest bidder. Whittlesby steals them first, but his feelings for Delagardie compromise his mission and force her to make a difficult choice. This time Willig sends Wooliston to the wings to focus on new spies and familiar contemporary characters (a researcher and her lover frame the tale). Whittlesby’s poetry is indeed laughably bad, but Delagardie is only mildly interesting, Napoleon appears rarely, the ex-lover lacks menace, and the double-cross is telegraphed. Even fans of the series won’t find much to engage with this time. Agent: Joe Veltre, the Gersh Agency. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/05/2011
Release date: 02/16/2012
Genre: Fiction
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-307-98995-6
Compact Disc - 978-1-61176-042-2
Paperback - 448 pages - 978-0-451-41560-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-307-98994-9
Open Ebook - 400 pages - 978-1-101-56033-4
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