Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Back Cover: The Scarlet Pimpernel is considered one of the greatest adventure novels of all time. It is the first in a series of stories about Percy Blakeney, an Englishman in France during the French Revolution's Reign of Terror, who lives a double life as an English aristocrat and a swashbuckling masked rescuer of French aristocrats from the guillotine. The Scarlet Pimpernel is the classic tale of action and adventure that literally invented the genre of the masked avenger.

My Thoughts: I love this book. It is the most exciting, suspenseful, breathtaking book I have ever read; one of many books that once I started it, I couldn't put it down. Spoiler (in white): A few chapters in, you begin to see things more from Lady Marguerite Blakeney's view, that her husband once loved her, but is now an indifferent fool, and the life of the party. When he leaves suddenly, she feels even more that he doesn't care for her, until she finds a ring with a scarlet pimpernel on it in his room, and begins to realize that his outward attitude is only a coverup for his daring life as the infamous Scarlet Pimpernel. She sets out to find him, enlisting one of his dearest and most trusted friends, a member of the band of the Scarlet Pimpernel, to help her. They travel to France, avoiding the wickedly plotting Chauvelin, and trying to save both Sir Percy Blakeney, and Marguerite's brother.

It is a wonderfully plotted and very well written tale of adventure, romance, and narrow escapes. I highly recommend this for anyone high school age or older.

Excerpt: "A cart,. . ." he shouted breathlessly, even before he had reached the gates.
   "What cart?" asked Bibot, roughly.
   "Driven by an old hag. . . . A covered cart. . ."
   "There were a dozen. . ."
   "An old hag who said her son had the plague?"
   "Yes. . ."
   "You have not let them go?"
   "Morbleu!" said Bibot, whose purple cheeks had suddenly become white with fear.
   "The cart contained the ci-devant Comtesse de Tourney and her two children, all of them traitors and condemned to death."
   "And their driver?" muttered Bibot, as a superstitious shudder ran down his spine.
   "Sacre tommere," said the captain, "but it is feared that it was that accursed Englishman himself - the Scarlet Pimpernel."

Bad Content: D--- is used a fair amount of times near the end.

Prequels: The Laughing Cavalier by Baroness Emmuska Orczy and The First Sir Percy by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.  Even though these are prequels, I read The Scarlet Pimpernel first, and would recommend reading them in that order. 

Sequels: There are several sequels, some of which I have read. However, I didn't like most of them as well as the first three, they get a little repetitive. If you are interested, you can find the full list of books (several of which you can read online) at the site Blakeney Manor


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