It’s been five years now since I wrapped up the Pink Carnation series with The Lure of the Moonflower, which sometimes feels like the blink of an eye and others like an awfully long time.

For the most part, the Pink characters have left me be while I’ve been writing other things.  Every now and again, I’ve entertained the idea of writing a series about Aunt Arabella in her youth in the 1940s or the Marquess and Marchioness of Uppington in the 1760s, but, for the most part, the original cast of Pink have stayed demurely in their books, closed behind the covers.

Until lockdown.  In March, New York locked down.  I found myself in my apartment with my husband, kindergartner, toddler– and Eloise.  Who was suddenly talking in my head again.  But this wasn’t 2006 Eloise.  This was now Eloise.  This was an Eloise with two kids– older than mine– in an apartment in London under lockdown, too.  And she was dying to tell me all about it.

There was also a young woman with her hair smoothly parted in the middle and a very round hoopskirt named Flora Selwick who appeared to be nursing with Florence Nightingale during the Crimean War– and doing it rather badly.

At the time, I was on deadline with my upcoming standalone book, Band of Sisters– and now I’m deadline with the prequel to Band of Sisters (untitled) and the next Team W book (also untitled), but whenever I can grab a moment, I scribble down that Eloise voice in my head.

I call it Pandemic Pink, and I thought it might be rather fun to share on a gloomy, rainy October day.  This is just a little snippet– but for everyone who wondered what Eloise is up to these days, here she is!

Prologue

London, England

April 2020

On the first day of quarantine, my true love gave to me—a Nespresso machine and a large collection of pods.

“I wasn’t sure which ones you would like, so I just got them all,” my husband said. 

Fifteen years of marriage had added some gray to his blond hair.  Two children had contributed the lines around his eyes and mouth.  And all those years of living with me had taught Colin that it was best to keep me caffeinated in his own self-interest. 

“Thank you,” I said, hugging an armful of pod packages.  I would have hugged the machine, but I was afraid of dropping it and breaking my toe, or, even worse, the machine.  The orders had just come down from Downing Street.  We were housebound for the foreseeable future.  No Costa.  No Café Nero.  No walks around the block to get to Costa or Café Nero.

Housebound was a misnomer.  We weren’t so much housebound as flat-bound.  Lockdown had found us turfed out of Colin’s ancestral home in Sussex by a group of builders who had confidently assured us the roof would be back on in a month or so and where was that kettle again?  The roof was apparently being rebuilt one cuppa at a time. 

And it wasn’t just the roof.  Don’t even talk to me about death watch beetles and dry rot and the Green Mold (I think they might have made that last one up, but I wasn’t prepared to stand my ground on it, just in case they hadn’t).  Ancestral homes might sound grand, but they were hell on upkeep.  Colin’s attempt at sustainable farming and my income from a series of mildly successful historical adventures were just a drop in the bucket.  The estate had to pay its own way.

So we did what every landowner does eventually.  No, not give the house to the National Trust.  We weren’t quite there yet.  We thought of trying to marry off our daughter to an elderly industrialist but Tosh pointed out that a) she was too young, and b) no one did that anymore.  We were forced to agree on both those counts.  So we were left with just one choice: close off the bits we preferred to live in and turn the rest into a tourist attraction: Disney with more crown moldings; Downton Abbey with spies.

That meant things like making sure the roof didn’t cave in on paying guests and bringing the building to code on things like, well, everything.  Apparently the codes had codes.  Colin and I had hired a firm of builders, asked what we hoped were intelligent-seeming questions, pretended to have a say in what was happening, and promptly fled to London and the flat of Colin’s ninety-nine year old great-aunt Arabella, who was only too delighted to have us to stay, particularly since it meant she could give the sack to the carer for whom she didn’t in the least care. 

“The woman treats me like I’m old,” Aunt Arabella had commented in disgust, and no one who knew her would have been surprised by her indignation.  Aunt Arabella was a walking advertisement for the benefits of clean-living, regular exercise, and a nightly jot of gin. 

Happy weekend, all!

38 Comments

  1. AngelB on October 16, 2020 at 2:41 pm

    ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  2. Samantha on October 16, 2020 at 2:42 pm

    Oh, Lauren! It wasn’t until I started reading that I realized how much I’ve missed this cast of characters. More, more please! I need to drop back in to see Hen and Miles soon.

    • Tamara on October 16, 2020 at 3:22 pm

      I agree this series was so addictive it made my train commute to and from Boston bearable.

  3. Ellen on October 16, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Thank you, thank you!

  4. Lisa on October 16, 2020 at 2:49 pm

    Oh my gosh! As soon as I saw the photo, I turned around and looked at my collection of Pink books – looks exactly the same, with a few hardbacks in the mix. Definitely time to revisit! Thank you for making my weekend!

  5. Jane on October 16, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Totally agree that have missed the characters and your voice in writing them. Thank you for this little snippet and would love more 🙂

    • Kelley Garvey on October 16, 2020 at 3:09 pm

      So nice to hear an old friend’s voice! ❤️

  6. Kathleen Clarke on October 16, 2020 at 3:04 pm

    I love it!!! More please!

  7. Sheila Churchill on October 16, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    Thank you, thank you thank you!! Love it. Please can I have some more?

    • Antonia Mauro on October 16, 2020 at 6:36 pm

      This is painful! Definitely wanting more! So much more with that added flash to the past! Hopefully, Eloise will continue to whisper her latest story to you. Just loved your Pink Carnation series! Woohoo! More Pink! 🌸🌸🌸

  8. Pat Dupuy on October 16, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Loved it. More, please. What happened to Colin’s nasty cousin and his mom?

  9. Michèle Cooke on October 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm

    Wonderful!!!…So glad to get back into that bit of the world as it were…Such a fabulous bit of escape for us….And I cannot wait to Aunt Arabella to go back to her “fun times”….Love it!!!

  10. Donna Benicke on October 16, 2020 at 3:26 pm

    Exactly my feelings.

  11. Amanda on October 16, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    It’s like visiting with an old friend. ❤️

  12. Victoria Leigh on October 16, 2020 at 3:33 pm

    This was wonderful and much needed! I’ve missed this world. Thank you for sharing.
    These characters are truly a delight and are welcomed back anytime you have time.
    Thank you!!

  13. Jan Siler on October 16, 2020 at 3:40 pm

    Oh how I have missed Eloise! Hope to see a full sequel some day – but looking forward to Band if Sisters!!

  14. Dianna on October 16, 2020 at 3:43 pm

    Could you manage a weekly installment… this was great… loved all the pink books and even though I have read all your stand alone books as well as the triple W books there is just something special about continuing characters and interlocking stories!!! Long live Eloise, Colin and Aunt Arabella and all their ancestors and friends from the past. Feel free to bring them back whenever you want to we will all be ready and waiting eagerly.

  15. Barbara on October 16, 2020 at 3:53 pm

    You go, girl! I am deep into my (3,4,5th?) threading of the series and I just love Eloise. So much so that I have been tempted to just read her chapters!
    The Pink series is just the right combo of moods to get me thru this fall. More Eloise would be fabulous!!!

  16. Anne amEdwards on October 16, 2020 at 4:11 pm

    you just turned my gray, chilly and very rainy day sunny! Thanks! I realized how much I miss the Pink series characters, story lines and environment. Please don’t stop with the snippet! In the coming months write another Pink book starting with the snippet you shared. What a wonderful gift that would me to all of us! Having that to anticipate will make this pandemic so much more tolerable! Please do this! thanks. Anne

  17. anne edwards on October 16, 2020 at 4:15 pm

    Loved the snippet and am yearning for another Pink book that begins with it. I hope you will get busy writing it posthaste! We miss those characters, story lines and the historical environment you create. Please!
    ( I submitted a comment a few minutes ago but hot a reply comment saying mine was awaiting moderation. ?? am trying again.)

  18. anne edwards on October 16, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    Loved your snippet and was again immediately hooked- ready for rest of the story. Please write that for us in the coming months!

  19. Lora on October 16, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    This just made my weekend!!! Thanks!! Keep going!!! More, please!!

  20. Anne Burner on October 16, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Oh…the snippet made my Friday. Thank you for sharing it with us. And if you decide to Kickstart it to full novel – I AM THERE!

  21. Jackie on October 16, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    This is so exciting! When a series ends I always wonder what happens to the characters! So marvelous! Keep it coming (. When you have a minute)👏👏👏👏🥰

  22. Lori Kramer on October 16, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    You have made my Friday infinitely better❤️
    Do please continue!!!!

  23. Denise on October 16, 2020 at 7:29 pm

    So excited — would love to read a new book with Eloise! Yipppee! Love your other books, however the Pink series is so fun! Thank you for bringing this back! (And count me in for wanting more, please!)

  24. Linda Rice on October 16, 2020 at 8:49 pm

    You are a goddess… I have so missed these characters. Just take my money….

  25. Lauren on October 16, 2020 at 9:16 pm

    This made my day! I reread the whole series two months into quarantine.

  26. Michelle Beckwith on October 16, 2020 at 9:22 pm

    Thank You!!!! As you know, Eloise was my “gateway drug” to all things Willig and Team W 😍 Clamoring for more!

  27. Linda Mollno on October 16, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    There is a silver lining in the Covid cloud … Eloise helped me through my history dissertation and first years of university teaching. I am thrilled beyond belief to hear her voice again. Thank you, thank you, thank!!! I await more …

  28. Debra Fortney on October 16, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    I am so thrilled! I just almost finished the Orchid affair. My last cd is MIA… So happy to hear about the children. Aunt Airabella, everyone!! I want more!! Where is Sirena, Jeremy, Mrs Selleick-Selleick? I hope you find a cold winter day for more Pandemic Pink updates!! ❤️❤️❤️ Thank you so much! Don’t forget the coloring book idea….

  29. Denise Huffman on October 17, 2020 at 11:47 am

    An enjoyable visit with Eloise! Would love to hear more about Aunt Arabella! Thank you for bringing them to us again!

  30. Karlene Barger on October 18, 2020 at 12:59 am

    I loved the Pink series so very much and enjoyed this brief snippet! More, please?

  31. Larke Turnbull on October 18, 2020 at 5:25 pm

    I too have missed the Pink series and would love to have more.

  32. Freya on October 18, 2020 at 7:48 pm

    Thank you, Lauren and Eloise!! (The idea of the carer is resonating for me . . . . She could be an evil mastermind in a pink pinny.)

  33. Keith Willis on October 19, 2020 at 3:01 pm

    I have ferociously missed Eloise and Collin (and Aunt Arabella) and your lovely cast of thousands (well, not quite, but close enough)). Sure, I can re-read them all (again, for the umpteenth time), but a new one? *Sigh*

    It might not be the book you want to write, but it’s the book we need… Please bring the Pink series back.

    Signed–A die-hard male Pink Carnation fan.

  34. Therese on October 20, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    I can’t believe it’s only been 5 years. Honestly feels like a lifetime ago the series ended. This was delightful. I echo all the others comments above.

  35. Betty Strohecker on October 23, 2020 at 6:17 pm

    Wonderful! Thanks so much, and stay safe!

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