cover image The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

The Secret History of the Pink Carnation

Lauren Willig. Penguin Audiobooks, $34.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-5-559-08370-4

It's difficult to narrate one book, much less a story within a story that spans two different time periods, but Reading meets this challenge with a bravado befitting Willig's swashbuckling tale. American academic Eloise Kelly has come to London to uncover the identity of the Pink Carnation, a British spy who infiltrated Napoleonic France. Eloise, who's given an appropriately flat American inflection, hits a vein of gold when she uncovers letters describing a love affair between the Purple Gentian, another famous spy, and Amy Balcourt, who may be the Pink Carnation. Much of the novel focuses on the far-fetched love story between Amy and Richard Selwick (aka the Purple Gentian), and here Reading truly demonstrates her vocal prowess. Amy's accent smacks strongly of her British roots but also proves as impish as her character, and Richard possesses a deep voice that actually sounds sexy. As the adventure progresses, evil French spies and formidable dowagers roll off of Reading's agile tongue, making this a fun, dynamic listen. ""Simultaneous release with the Dutton hardcover (Forecasts, Jan. 24). (Feb.)"" .