Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Mischief of the Mistletoe by Lauren Willig

series info - see review
Copyright: 2010
Publisher: Dutton
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 352
Challenges: Holiday Reading Challenge
Author's Website
My rating: 4/5

Description taken from the author's website:

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?

Now what you really want to know....my thoughts: 
This is the latest book (#7) that was published for the series, however the time line of this novel actually falls in line with #5 which is The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.  You'll remember, perhaps, that I listened to the audio of that book earlier this month.  I was a bit worried about reading this one before I had a chance to read #6, The Betrayal of the Blood Lilly, however I needn't worry.  I was worried because in most of the books there is some store that takes place in present day by a lady researching these characters. I was worried that this book would have some of that story and therefore I would learn something that I didn't want to know since I was reading out of order.  I am happy to report that this book has none of the present day story in it, so it's safe to read before or after The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.

What is a rather happy coincident is that this book starts in time before that of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine but ends at the beginning of The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.  Ok..let's see if I can make this less confusing.  This book ends with the characters celebrating the 12 days of Christmas at one of the estates owned by the Duke of Dovedale.  The Temptation of the Night Jasmine starts at the beginning of the 12 days of celebration at the estate owned by the Duke of Dovedale.  So the stories do over lap a bit.  However, this book is told my secondary characters and so you get a different take on the happenings of that celebration.  It actually made it a lot of fun to read since I was familiar with what happened already but got to see it from different perspectives.  I would imagine you could read this book either before or after The Temptation of the Night Jasmine.

If you have read this series you know that Turnip does show up in previous books although never as the main character.  He finally gets his chance to shine.  Turnip is a fun character, goofy, but fun.  I liked having him as one of the main characters.  I liked Arabella a lot too.

Now this book is linked to Jane Austin and I was a bit worried about that since I've never read anything by Jane Austin and I'm not on the "Jane Austin is awesome" bandwagon yet.  I was worried that there would be things in the story that would cause me to be confused about what was going on.  Again, I worried over nothing.  I'm sure there probably were things I missed but, as far as I know, they weren't major to the story and it was never obvious that I was missing something.    I'm guessing that those of you who have read the Jane Austin books and know The Watsons would probably enjoy that aspect of it, but for me it didn't make a difference.

I'm a huge fan of the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig and this book was no exception.  I thought it was a lot of fun, very much in character for the series.  I did find it fun to read one of the books again since I've been in the habit of listening to the audio versions (even though I own the books).  It was funny to see all the names in print and find that in my head I read it with an accent and mimicked the original audio narrator a bit.
If you are a fan of the series, I think you'll enjoy this one.  If you haven't read the series yet but like historical fiction, I do recommend picking up the first in the series, The Secret of the Pink Carnation.  In fact, if I'm not mistaken you can read the first chapter or at least an excerpt for most of the books on the author's website.

Thanks to the publisher for providing this book for review.

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