Orczy, Baroness. 1905. The Scarlet Pimpernel. Signet Classic. 248 pages.
A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.
Set during the French Revolution--1792 to be precise--The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is a wonderful, adventurous romance.
Who is the Scarlet Pimpernel? The French would love to know, especially M. Chauvelin. Since this English aristocrat is interfering in their deadly business--the politics of murder. The English wouldn't mind knowing as well--especially the women, because even sight unseen this man is someone to swoon over. A dashing, brave hero. Why is he so romantically dashing? He's risking his life--and the lives of a dozen or so other men--for a noble cause. The Scarlet Pimpernel and his league of nineteen men are doing their best to smuggle out French aristocrats and secure their safe arrival in England.
We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?--Is in he in hell?
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel? (93)
The stars of this book are a husband and wife: Sir Percy Blakeney and his French wife, Marguerite. When we first meet this pair, they are proudly and stubbornly denying their love for one another. But truth be known, the love is there--under the surface--and it's as strong and passionate as ever.
The conflict of this one is simple. Chauvelin comes to England seeking to discover the identity of The Scarlet Pimpernel. He finds Marguerite, a woman from his past, and knowing that she has a brother in France, seeks to use her love for him (the brother that is) to his advantage. How far would she go to protect her brother, Armand, from the guillotine?
I haven't seen the 1934 Leslie Howard adaptation yet. But watching the clips below makes me think it's worth seeking out...
The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934)
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews