Friday, February 25, 2011

The Orchid Affair- Pink Carnation Series # 8 (Audiobook)

Laura Grey, a veteran governess, joins the Selwick Spy School expecting to find elaborate disguises and thrilling exploits in service to the spy known as the Pink Carnation. She hardly expects her first assignment to be serving as governess for the children of Andre Jaouen, right-hand man to Bonaparte’s minister of police. Jaouen and his arch rival, Gaston Delaroche, are investigating a suspected Royalist plot to unseat Bonaparte, and Laura’s mission is to report any suspicious findings. At first the job is as lively as Latin textbooks and knitting, but Laura begins to notice strange behavior from Jaouen—secret meetings and odd comings and goings. As Laura edges closer to her employer, she makes a shocking discovery and is surprised to learn that she has far more in common with Jaouen than she originally thought. ( Synopsis from Lauren Willig's website)

Audiobook- Unabridged on 13 discs- Read by Kate Reading-15 hours 38 mins-Penguin Audio

Loved, loved ,loved this book! The Pink Carnation series is one of my favorites- I personally own all of the books in hardcover and in audiobook form. Kate Reading has narrated all of the books in the series and does a fantastic job. Her ability to do accents is amazing and she really makes the story come alive. That said, you don't need to listen to the book to enjoy it. It is a wonderful read as well.

Laura Grey, aka Laura Griscogne,aka the Silver Orchid, is a recently recruited spy in the Pink Carnation network. Since her parents death when she was 16, she has worked as a governess. Laura wants a different life and sees this as her opportunity to make that happen. She becomes the governess for Andre Jaouen's two children-the sulky Gabrielle and the younger child Pierre-Andre.  Jaouen is a widower and his wife was a well known artist. Laura is no stranger to that world, as her parents were famous as a sculptor and poetess. During the course of the book, Laura discovers all is not what it seems in Jaouen's world. She meets up with friends from her past, makes an enemy of Jaouen's rival, the obnoxious Gaston Delaroche, and ends up playing happy families with Jaouen and his children while in a traveling theatre group. There is a very satisfactory ending for all concerned.

As in her earlier books, the historical story is interwoven with a modern day one featuring Eloise, an American doing her dissertation on proving the identity of the Pink Carnation. She is in the beginning of a serious relationship with Colin, whose family owns the house and papers Eloise needs to back up her theory. While the historical story seem to be mostly complete in each book, we only get a little glimpse of Eloise and Colin that leaves me wanting more...ah well, there is always the next book.

Like my favorite author, Georgette Heyer, Ms. Willig is a stickler for detail and historical accuracy. When she writes about a condemned man waiting for La Guillotine, you can almost feel your own panic rising. According to her website, Pink Carnation 9 is already in the works- see if you can guess who the main characters will be when you read The Orchid Affair!

Library note: The Orchid Affair is available in Hardcover at RPL in the adult new books section. The first book in the series, The Secret History of the Pink Carnation,  will be the book discussed in the June Book Discussion. RPL has both the Hardcover and audio version

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