Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel

For my first blog post, I decided that I should do one of my favorite books. Having a number of favorite books, it took me a little while to decide which one. But I have found a perfect one: The Scarlet Pimpernel.

I first came across The Scarlet Pimpernel in the form of a movie starring Anthony Andrews; however, no movie has yet done The Scarlet Pimpernel much justice. Baroness Orczy, the authoress of the book, spins together a riveting tale with the perfect balance of romance and adventure with deep, full characters. The movies fall a little short, especially on the ‘deep, full characters’ part. That criticism given, I must add that the Anthony Andrews movie was not bad, and the black and white movie with Leslie Howard was pretty good. Now on to the book -for which I only have good things to say.

The Scarlet Pimpernel
takes place during the French Revolution, yet with the exception of the first chapter, it has very little gore and bloodshed in it. I like adventure and French historical fiction, but I greatly dislike anything that is over graphic. The Baroness does an excellent job of creating a realistic setting without being macabre. The story’s pace is quick, yet not lacking emotion or feeling. Indeed how could it lack emotion when a beautiful Frenchwoman, Marguerite, is married to an Englishman who once loved her passionately but now has drawn a mask of inanity around himself and no longer seems care for her while she still desires his love?

Along with that, there is a daring English hero, known as “The Scarlet Pimpernel”, who risks his life to rescue French aristocrats from the guillotine, incurring all kinds of rage from the revolutionists. When a French agent, Chauvelin, comes to spy out the hero’s true identity, he forces Marguerite to help him; either she aids him in finding the Pimpernel, or her brother dies.

I could go on and on about the book, but then I would spoil it for future readers.

There is enough angst in it to have you gripping the book tightly (and wailing when people interrupt you), yet it has uproariously funny parts, and in the end it is quite a happily after book. And then there lots of sequels!

To my great sorrow, I do not have a copy of this volume of my own. However, when I do find one at some store, you may be sure - aye and very, very sure!- that I will do my best to procure it for my already crowded book shelves.

Now if your library happens to be inept at stocking its shelves with great books, or it is “ept” but has overlooked The Scarlet Pimpernel, don’t despair! There are two online ways you can enjoy it: Librivox and Blakeney Manor.

Librivox.org is a fabulous place. It’s just like a “book-on-tape” library at your finger-tips. Just click and there is the whole book, chapter by chapter. You can listen to the whole thing, and it’s perfectly free.

is another great place, and it has the complete e-text of The Scarlet Pimpernel (it’s free, too). It also has all her other Scarlet Pimpernel books in e-text as well.

"We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven?--Is he in hell?
That demmed, elusive Pimpernel


  1. Wonderful book! I happen to have two paperback copies of it.

    Of course the pace is exciting: Most of the story takes place over the span of three days. :)

    ~ A.K. ~

  2. Many congratulations on the new Blog! You seem to cover many of the points of review that need to be covered, and to be a natural writer. I greatly look forward to seeing future installments, as the premise of the blog is one that very much interests me.

    If I may be so bold as to put forth a very slight suggestion? Perhaps in the future, review books that you don't adore *quite* so much. It makes for a more interesting review, I think, when there are cons to point out as well as pros.

    Best of luck on the next post!
    ~The Night Writer.

  3. I love it, Kae!!! Welcome to the Blogging world! The Scarlet Pimpernel, an excellent choice for your first post! :D ~*


  4. I adore The Scarlet Pimpernel - the book, the films, and the musical - are you familiar with the latter? The score is awesome! I also really enjoy the Richard E. Grant Scarlet Pimpernel films - he made a great Percy IMO. :)

  5. I haven't seen the musical, but I know that it is out there! I have a friend who will no doubt know a youtube link to it. I've heard part of "The Falcon in the Dive" and that was pretty cool.

    I watched part the R.E. Grant "Scarlet Pimpernel" and was not pleased with it, actually. Grant seems far to coarse and animated to really be Percy, and Marguerite seemed all wrong. But, Tony, played by Jamie Bamber was cute. (He didn't capture Tony's character, but he was cute ;)

  6. I didn't realize that Jamie Bamber was in that one! Of course, I hadn't seen Hornblower at the time I saw the R.E. Grant *Scarlet Pimpernel* (for which I did not care), so I wouldn't have recognized him.

    ~ A.K. ~

  7. A.K., The only reason I even watched the R.E. Grant one was to see Jamie Bamber. You and two others had given that show a thumbs down, but I had to see Jamie Bamber as Tony. ...but what with his stuttering? Tony was a sporting fellow with a ready tongue. Honestly.