Monday, March 12, 2012

Lauren Willig: Guest Post and Giveaway

I adore the Pink Carnation series and I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the Garden Intrigue blog tour. Check out all the blog tour stops - courtesy of TLC Book Tours.  

Here's my review of The Garden Intrigue - which is fantastic.

Welcome Lauren!

I traveled a lot as a teenager.

From the squishy chair in the corner of the library, I traveled the silk road with Marco Polo and fled Atlanta with Scarlett O’Hara. I climbed the scaffold with Anne Boleyn and Mary, Queen of Scots; faced down English forces at Culloden; danced a quadrille with the Scarlet Pimpernel before slipping off to a back room to burn a secret message emblazoned with a small, scarlet flower. I can’t tell you how many times I was kidnapped and put into harems.(What was it with all those harems back in the early 90s?)

There’s nothing like historical fiction for getting around. Since writing my Pink Carnation series, I’ve gotten to travel—metaphorically, at least—all over the place. My intrepid Napoleonic spy team has been to Ireland, to India, to France.(And, of course, to Almack’s Assembly Rooms, without which no Regency romance novel would be complete.)I’ve gotten to hob-nob with George III, Sir Arthur Wellesley, Robert Fulton, and the members of the Naughty Hellfire Club, among others.

But my latest book, The Garden Intrigue, is special. It takes me back to a very particular place: Josephine Bonaparte’s country house, Malmaison. I had a bit of a Bonaparte thing when I was a teenager. I was fascinated by the fractious Bonaparte clan: the brilliant little dictator, his promiscuous sister Pauline, his rebellious brother Lucien, his scheming sister Caroline, his increasingly cranky mother. But the characters I loved the best were Napoleon’s wife Josephine, charming and weak, and her two children, Hortense and Eugene. I felt a deep kinship with Hortense, who, like me, went to a small all girls’ school, where she excelled in the humanities, drama, and music—and not so much on the math and science front. It all sounded pretty familiar, minus the whole Revolution bit.

 In the early days of Napoleon’s ascent, before he declared himself Emperor, Malmaison, Josephine’s country house, was home to a continuous house party, where amateur theatricals and games abounded. Even Napoleon himself took part in the fun—although Hortense, accused him of cheating. As Napoleon’s ambitions grew greater, that charmed circle at Malmaison took on darker overtones, with s favorite, forced into a marriage with Napoleon’s hypochondriac younger brother, Louis.

When I was eighteen, I wrote a novel about Hortense, called Napoleon’s Daughter. No one is ever going to see that novel—trust me, it’s for the best—but I did want to make my way back to Malmaison someday and revisit Hortense and her family.  In The Garden Intrigue, my heroine, Emma Morris, is an American, a New Yorker who came over to France with her uncle, James Monroe, as a teenager, and was enrolled in Mme Campan’s school for young ladies, where she became fast friends with Hortense—who helped her to elope with her dream man at the age of fifteen. As you can guess, Emma’s dream man turned out to be not quite so dreamy. Ten years later, she’s a widow and a fixture of the Paris social scene. She’s also still best friends with Hortense, but increasingly worried about Napoleon’s designs for Hortense and her family. The world is changing around Emma and she doesn’t like it one bit.

At a request from Napoleon, Emma returns to Malmaison for a house party, where she teams up with a ridiculous poet to write a masque for the new Emperor’s entertainment. She never suspects that that poet might be an English spy—or that her weekend at Malmaison might change her life forever.

 In writing The Garden Intrigue, I got to revisit all my old friends—and enemies—from the Napoleonic court, all the people I’d hung out with years ago while writing Napoleon’s Daughter. I couldn’t change Hortense’s story—history has an annoying way of being static like that—but I could give her make-believe best friend a happy ending.

 I like to think that Hortense would have approved.

I love reading historical fiction and visiting places through books, especially places from the Pink Carnation series.  As a special treat, TLC Book Tours has offered up one copy of The Garden Intrigue to one lucky person (US/Canada only)

To Enter:
Leave a comment on the blog with 

1. state which time period you'd like to travel to most
(mine's a toss up between Regency England and Renaissance Italy) 

2. your email address 

The contest ends Monday March 19th at midnight. 


Anonymous said...

I'd choose to visit the realm of Catherine the Great (Catherine II), Empress of Russia. She presided over the Russian Age of Enlightenment. Also, who could resist seeing the much-extolled, original Amber Room in the Palace?

Maria D. said...

I would love to visit Regency England and Paris during the period of the impressionist painters...would love to hang out with them in the cafes. Thanks for the giveaway!

junegirl63 at gmail dot com

Faith said...

It's a toss up between the 1920s (love the music/clothes) and Victorian London (so many changes).

Faith said...

It's a toss up between the 1920s (love the music) and Victorian London (so many changes in such a short time).

faither at gmail . com

Rebs @ Book-Rants said...

Regency England for sure! I've always had a special place in my heart for this era!


Jessica said...

Though I know I'd have to give up a lot, well...almost all, of my favorite modern amenities, I would *LOVE* to see the medieval Scottish highlands. It just seems so romantic...*sigh*

Such a great giveaway, thanks!!

Margay Leah Justice said...

I absolutely love this series! I'd love to travel to the Regency period or the late Victorian age (1890s).


Anonymous said...

Thanks for featuring Lauren for the tour!