Welcome to the first of the Pink Anniversary guest posts! Rachel was kind enough to share her memories and thoughts about the Pink series, and so, without further ado, I’m going to turn the podium over to Rachel for a trip down Pink memory lane….
I am so honored to have a guest post on Lauren’s website! This medium is perfect because readers won’t get distracted by my fangirl squeals or nervous laughter… *ha ha ha*
I first discovered The Pink Carnation series in high school, as a sophomore starting to forge my identity, and using books as my guide to self-discovery. Wandering around in my favorite independent bookstore one spring day in 2006, I was using the oft- condemned method of finding a new book: by which cover intrigued me most. My attention became riveted on a gorgeous spine with pink letters… The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig. The front cover was even more promising and as I read the blurb on the back I decided to purchase the book. But HEY! It looks like a series, I’ll buy the next one too! There was no way I could pass it up.
My mother has blessed me with many things: her height, her wit, and her love of British literature and their accompanying BBC miniseries. So when I recognized the reference to the Scarlet Pimpernel in Lauren’s book it felt like kismet.
The sun seemed to shine brighter and the air seemed to blow more sweetly as I walked down the cobblestone streets with my new treasures. The details are hazy about where I sat (or which homework I neglected) while reading these books but I know that I averaged one a day and was laughing constantly. All I could talk about during lunch with my friends was the new series I’d started.
I never read Harry Potter growing up so I missed out on the wait-all-night-for-the-book-to-come-out-and-then-call-in-sick-to-read-it-right-away craze, so pre-ordering the latest book in a series or going to the bookstore on book launch day was a new experience for me. It was as if I had joined a new group of friends: Lauren, Eloise, Amy, Henrietta, and the other heroines as time went on. (Except maybe Mary… we definitely would not see eye to eye.) The brilliant writing of the series heralded a brand-new truth for me that proved to be very formative. Smart women could write, or read, anything they wanted and still sound intelligent! Romance novels were foreign to me as a 16 year old so the Pink Carnation series was my first foray into bodice-ripping, bosom-heaving fun. But the obvious research that went into the books coupled with Lauren’s clever prose erased my preconceived notions of the Romance Novel.
For me, the series was a metaphor for being a woman: a woman who could be comprised of all sorts of things and not fit into a specific category (think Alanis Morissette’s lyrics “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover…”). It was validation that I could be whoever I wanted to be and to a teenager with lukewarm self-confidence that was exactly what I needed to hear. Um, read. So I let my freak flag fly and aced my classes while laughing obnoxiously about off color jokes. I still read Austen and Dickens but I expanded to some of the contemporary romance authors suggested on Lauren’s website. I embraced my offbeat side and learned to love the word “juxtaposition.”
When Lauren mentioned on her website that for the “Crimson Rose” book tour she would be stopping in Ann Arbor, I was elated. I live on the other side of Michigan, about a two hour drive one way, but a road trip to see a favorite author was just the thing I’d enjoy and I knew I would not be disappointed. And I wasn’t. Lauren was vivacious and kind and it was so inspiring to think how much she’d accomplished not only as an author but also as a student (hello, two Ivy Leagues!) and lawyer. Yet another example of a woman who doesn’t live in a jello mold. At her next Ann Arbor book tour Lauren remembered me- and as a bibliophile (especially one who reads a lot of posthumous works) a living author is a rockstar. And a rockstar who recognizes said bibliophile is nothing short of amazing. The Kerrytown Bookfest panel Lauren was on this past fall was comprised of similar women who write strong female protagonists. Being able to read Lauren’s books (or those from a similar authoress) is a repeated affirmation that who I am is pretty cool. For this reason I read, reread, and recommend Lauren’s books. And, of course, to laugh and swoon in equal measure at men in knee breeches.
Thank you so much for this, Rachel. It means so much to me to know what the Pink books are to you– because I’m that bibliophile, too, with my own cache of Books That Made Me Me. It’s the most amazing thing in the world to stumble upon a book or series of books that really speaks to you. And more amazing still to know that your books were those books.
Happy ten years of Pink!