What author idolizes Eleanor of Aquitaine and sent her first romance novel to a publisher handwritten on 300 pages when only nine years old? The answer is New York Times bestselling writer Lauren Willig, author of over 20 notable works of historical fiction.
History, specifically giving women in history the credit they deserve, is a passion for Ms. Willig, who uses meticulous research to put remarkable women into the historical narrative firmly. “When we leave women out, Ms. Willig observes, “we provide a skewed view of the past. Women didn't simply pine for husbands or lovers who were out making history; women made history themselves; they played an active, critical role in all of history's great events.
Willig's passions for romance, compelling heroines, and exhaustive historical research have led her to create a library of books certain to delight any reader. Her Pink Carnation series is a Romantic Times top pick. Ms. Willig was nominated for a Quill award in 2006 and won the coveted RITA award given to the Best Regency Historical Romance. Her stand-alone historical fiction novels and her collaborations with Karen White and Beatriz Williams are masterful in every way. All Lauren Willig's books appear regularly on bestseller lists and rack up rave reviews.
Are you ready to discover Lauren Willig?
Ms. Willig is a native of New York City, a place she still calls home. She read her first “romance at age six and hasn't stopped reading or writing them since. At age thirteen, Lauren began attending an all-girls school (is any situation more apt to kindle an interest in romance?) and then headed off to study literature, history, and law at Yale and then Harvard.
Her writing career took off when she signed her first book contract for The Secret History of the Pink Carnation during her first year of law school. Pink Carnation series number two, The Masque of the Black Tulip, followed in year two, and The Deception of the Emerald Ring appeared in year three. Yes, that's three books in three years while attending Harvard Law; can you spot an overachiever?
After graduating magna cum laude with her J.D., Ms. Willig practiced corporate law for about a year and a half before dedicating herself full-time to writing.
Every now and again, the Good Plot Fairy will wave her magic wand over my head. When I fail to pay attention, the Good Plot Fairy will then bash me over the head several times until I sit up, stick a bookmark in whatever novel I've been reading, and take notice.
In addition to writing, one of the projects she tackled early on was to teach a seminar at Yale called Reading the Regency Romance. The purpose of the course was to explore the Regency romance sub-genre as a form of literature.
Romance is the largest selling fiction genre; by every objective, quantitative measure, romance novels are the most popular books in the United States. They are regularly snubbed and dismissed in literary circles as being somehow “less than other types of fiction.
They are often characterized as misogynistic and bad for women. Ms. Willig promotes the idea that romance is literature, and female readers can indulge their fantasies in smart, intelligent ways.
And Ms. Willig's books are smart and intelligent. She's thoughtful about her heroines. You won't find flawless women who sail effortlessly through challenges and emerge unscathed and with perfect hair.
Instead, you'll find carefully crafted heroines who are flawed, ordinary women placed in extraordinary circumstances. Some of her heroines, in fact, are downright difficult to like at all in the beginning. It's in the struggle to overcome those flaws and pony up to life's challenges that Ms. Willig's characters shine.
With the Pink Carnation series now complete, Ms. Willig tells other types of stories about women and history. She's written six stand-alone novels set in diverse locations from 19th century Barbados to the battlefields of WWI.
She's also teamed up with Beatriz Williams and Karen White to create four different works of historical fiction, and their fifth collaboration is in the works.
Willig's books are loved by many. Which one of her books will become your new favorite? Let's take a closer look at the work of Lauren Willig.
The Pink Carnation Series
This series is classified as romance, but its also solidly historical fiction and intrigue. This series is for you if you like spies, masked men in knee britches, and love stories. The Pink Carnation books aren't traditional “bodice rippers, though you will find a modicum of “open door intimacy in each novel. Rather, they're a perfect blend of history, romance, and adventure.
Eloise is a thoroughly modern Harvard graduate student working on her dissertation in London. Her goal is to uncover the secret identity of the Pink Carnation for her dissertation, a British spy who saved England from Napoleon's invasion. Eloise hits gold when a descendant of one of the flower spies (like the Scarlet Pimpernel, for example) grants her exclusive access to private family diaries and letters. While the series spends most of its time back in the 1800s following Napoleonic spies, Eloise's story, and her romance with handsome Englishman Colin, is also an important thread.
There are 12 books in the series as well as 2 short stories. Ms. Willig recommends readers enjoy the books in the following order:
Lauren Willig has written six stand-alone novels as follows:
The Ashford Affair (2013) Manhattan lawyer Clemmie embarks on a journey through her family's past that takes her to Edwardian England and the red hills of Kenya.
That Summer (2014)Julia Conley inherits a home outside London and discovers a mystery that began with a pre-Raphaelite portrait hidden for centuries behind the wardrobe.
The Other Daughter (2015) Rachel Woodley discovers that the father she thought was dead is very much alive and living his best life as an earl in England. And he has a daughter named Olivia.
The English Wife (2018)Bayard Van Duyvil is found stabbed to death, and his wife Annabelle is missing. This novel about family secrets in the Gilded Age will keep you guessing until the final page.
The Summer Country (2019)In 1854, Emily Dawson inherited a sugar plantation in Barbados. When she arrives, she finds a burnt-out shell, and neighbors bent on acquiring the property, and an unforgettable story of love and betrayal.
Band of Sisters (2021)This is the story of a group of Smith College alumni that embark on a mission to help struggling civilians in France during WWI. This novel is based on actual women and actual events.
Willig is a talented novelist. In all these stories, she stays true to the time and the period. You won't find starting revisionism in her books, as is often the case in historical fiction. Her books are also fast-paced page-turners. Once you start reading, you won't be able to stop.
Team W Collaborations
What happens when three authors who are all best friends walk into a bar? With the help of a bit of liquid confidence, they decide to write a book together. And then another, and then another.
Team W has collaborated on four novels so far, and a fifth is on the way. While three women wrote the books, they are seamlessly constructed. In fact, the truth about who wrote what is known only to the authors; not even their editors or publishers are in on the secret. The books are as follows:
If you love these authors on their own, you'll love them even more together. They take pride in being strong women who write about strong women who grow as they realize just how strong they are.
Discover Lauren Willig
If you're on the hunt for a new favorite author, Lauren Willig is a great place to start. Explore Lauren Willig's titles at Discover Books today. With free shipping and prices as low as $3.85, you can afford to add the entire Pink Carnation series to your cart so you can indulge in an epic reading marathon.
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