Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Deception of the Emerald Ring by Lauren Willig

Lauren Willig has made a fine career out of her Pink Carnation series. She started the book while she was writing a dissertation in English History at Harvard. By the publication of this book, Willig had decided to ditch the PhD, attend law school and now works as a lawyer during the week and writes during the weekend. What does that choice say about the state of affairs of academia? But, that's a whole 'nother post?

The Deception of the Emerald Ring is the third in Willig's series. Each of the books stars Eloise, a history grad student doing research in England to write a dissertation on English spies in the eighteenth century. A small portion of the book revolves around Eloise and focuses on her lack of a love life. These sections of the book are very cliched, light, chic-lit. The majority of the stories take place in Napoleonic-era England and follow the lives of the spies that Eloise is researching.

In the third installment, Letty, a nineteen year old with a perfect beautiful siste, ends up through miscommunication and hijinks, married to Geoffrey Pinchingdale, one of the many spies. Set up as a typical romance, Geoff and Letty hate one another. Through the course of the book they both realize how much they do in fact respect and love one another. By the end, everyone is happy, in love, and content with their lives.

So, if the books are so cliched, why do I keep reading them? Because Willig has a great sense of humor and has no problems turning that cynical humor on herself and on her chosen field (or, not so chosen anymore). Willig knows that she is writing stereotypical romance and plays up the interaction in a fun way. She pokes fun at the trite dialogue and the watery descriptions. More than that, the stories are amusing. I find myself engaged and anxious to keep reading. While I know that everyone will be happy in the end, sometimes it's nice to just sit back and enjoy the suspense while they all figure out how to make themselves content.

While I won't go out of my way to track down the fourth installment in the Pink Carnation series, I know that one of these days I will find myself, text in hand, happily reading about the further adventures of the flower spies. Lauren Willig's books make for great, light reading. A nice break from the stress of the holidays.

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