Monday, August 10, 2009

The Scarlet Pimpernel

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.

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)
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.

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


Alaine - Queen of Happy Endings 5:15 PM  

I've never read this but I will have to put it on my list. Sounds really good, I think I saw the movie a long time ago!

Elizabeth 10:36 PM  

I've read the book and seen the stage production. Didn't know there was a movie, I may check it out from Netflix.
Have you read any of the "Pink Carnation" books by Lauren Willig? They are fun, with a mix of the early 19th century spying and a modern historian looking for information.

Anonymous,  11:06 PM  

Fun review, Becky! So enjoyable to read, and perfect for the book. L.

Cami Checketts 11:48 PM  

I love this book. Haven't read it since high school. Thanks for the reminder!

Booklogged 12:31 AM  

The Leslie Howard version looks very fun. I loved the book, too and was amazed at how she packed it so full of action.

DesLily 6:40 AM  

all of a sudden i can't see anyone's youtubes that they embed .. just a white box.. by any chance are you having this problem??? I can see them fine ON youtube but now I can't see them in ANYONE'S blog

Tina's Blog 8:36 AM  

I read The Scarlet Pimpernel in high school while taking French III. I loved it then, but as a re-read about ten years later, I had a harder time. I just couldn't remember as much about the French Revolution. We also watched the movie and loved girlfriends and I spent a lot of time saying "we seek him here, we seek him there, The Frenchies seek him everywhere...."

Carl V. 9:03 AM  

I've never read The Scarlett Pimpernell, but it is one of the 'legends' that I have always enjoyed. I've seen it mentioned in many television shows over the years and I believe I may have seen this film, though my memory is suspect on that front. It would have been a loooong time ago. Love the cover to that more recent edition of the book.

Marg 6:27 PM  

I read this book years ago and loved one of the series as well, but I never realised until a couple of years ago that this book is actually part of a whole series about the Scarlet Pimpernel. One day I am going to read more of them.


I read this book as a teenager and loved it, but I never saw the movie. Thanks for the clip!

Tif 11:53 PM  

I read this book in high school and re-read it again a few years ago . . . loved it even more the second time around!

TheBlackSheep 7:35 AM  

Thanks for the review. I really need to put this one back on my list. I started it, but then sort of stopped and never got back into it. It's a shame.

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