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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

The Masque of the Black Tulip

1. The Masque of the Black Tulip alternates between the present day story of Eloise, researcher and archivist, and the past story of Henrietta Selwick set in 1803. How do these two stories enhance each other? What do they suggest about women's roles?

2. How does Lauren Willig create an aura of mystery and suspense surrounding "The Black Tulip"?

3. In chapters five and six, we are introduced to several characters --- Turnip, the Marquise de Montval and Lord Vaughn --- who might be "The Black Tulip?" Who do you suspect?

4. How does the ironic tone and humor contribute to the novel?

5. At the beginning of each chapter, we are given the definition of a word taken from the Personal Codebook of the Pink Carnation. For example, chapter eleven begins with "Quadrille: a deadly dance of deceit." How do these quotations enhance the story?

6. How does Henrietta and Miles' story parallel Eloise and Colin's story?

7. In chapter twenty, we switch briefly to the Pink Carnation's point of view. Why does Lauren Willig choose to do this?

8. How does Lauren Willig account for the very explicit love scene between Henrietta and Miles?

9. How is the story of The Masque of the Black Tulip different from Jane Austen's novels such as Northanger Abbey to which Lauren Willig refers?

10. Does Henrietta and Miles marriage come as a surprise?

11. Were you surprised at The Black Tulip's real identity?

12. How does Henrietta behave in the climactic scene (chapter 35)?

13. Compare The Masque of the Black Tulip with The Secret History of the Pink Carnation. How are they the same/different?

14. At the end of the novel, "The Black Tulip" escapes. Where does Eloise believe the Black Tulip is headed and who might the Black Tulip meet?

15. Will Colin call Eloise?

16. In the Historical Note at the end of The Masque of the Black Tulip, Lauren Willig explains that "although the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Purple Gentian and the Pink Carnation are all fictitious, there were flower-named spies romping across the Channel." What other historical details contribute to the story's authenticity?

The Masque of the Black Tulip
by Lauren Willig

  • Publication Date: December 29, 2005
  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult
  • ISBN-10: 0525949208
  • ISBN-13: 9780525949206