Author: Baroness Orczy
Published: 1905, available in many, many editions
Category: Historical Fiction / Classics
I've kept my brain from rotting this month! Just finished The Scarlet Pimpernel. I'm going to do a mini-review here. We'll be discussing it later this week on Dance Chica's blog for her classics book club, so I'll link to that when it happens.
I also put a brain icon, because it is a classic. But it is one of the more accessible classics I've ever read. And I'm a wimp about "literature" (said in snooty British accent).
Set during the French Revolution, The Scarlet Pimpernel is the story of a mysterious hero who is the leader of a league that is committed to rescuing French aristocrats who have been sentenced to death on the guillotine. He is a hero whose reputation becomes larger than life; his identity is a closely guarded secret, his rescues are so daring that people have attributed almost supernatural powers to him. The French government, tired of being made fools of, sends a spy named Chauvelin to London to try to track down the Pimpernel and figure out a way of arresting him. Chauvelin threatens and blackmails Lady Marguerite Blakeney, a French actress who has become the leader of fashionable society in London, into assisting him in unmasking our hero.
It's easy to see why this is a classic. It is just a great story. And I believe (I'm not an expert here) that it was very influential in literature--a kind of precursor to the modern-day superhero. It's been made into many movies, plays, tv shows, even musicals.
This book is HIGH, HIGH drama. Very exciting. It actually gets a little melodramatic for me there at the end. (If I can not safe him, I will stand by my love and we will perish together!!) And the heroine, Marguerite, is pretty much worthless, even though she is described as the cleverest woman in Europe.
But the Scarlet Pimpernel himself is so wonderful. So clever, ingenious, and resourceful. The scenes with him are brilliant. And the love story is great too--how misunderstandings and wounded pride can slowly destoy the happiness of such strong-willed characters.
I'm looking forward to hearing what everyone else thought of this.