Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Forgotten Books)
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
272 pages
Rating: 4/5
Goodreads description:
The Scarlet Pimpernel is a classic adventure novel, the storyline of which takes place in the early years of the French Revolution. It is also a precursor of spy novels, as the title character, the Scarlet Pimpernel, works undercover and in disguise to save French aristocrats from the guillotine.

In the novel, Marguerite Blakeney, a French actress, is married to a Sir Percy Blakeney, a seemingly vain and simple man. The French Ambassador to England, Citizen Chauvelin, blackmails Marguerite into giving him information that leads to his discovery of the Scarlet Pimpernel's true identity. Marguerite only realizes once her husband has once again left for France that the man she betrayed, the Scarlet Pimpernel, is in fact someone very close to her.

Baroness Orczy also wrote many sequels to the novel which was based on a classic play by her.

My thoughts:
In sitting down to write my review of this novel, I have to say that it is hard to capture into words my feelings about the novel.  From a reader's standpoint, I have to say I loved this book.  It reminded me of The Count of Monte Cristo in some ways, as I was constantly on edge and finished it going, "Wow, that was a good book!"  Now you may ask why I gave it only a 4/5 instead of a 5.  And really, it is mainly because my 5s are for books that are absolutely perfect.  Ones that I could not imagine changing in any way.  Novels, to me, that deserve a 5 are ones that I could read over and over again, each time enjoying the plot, characters, and ending.  But that's just my way of reviewing things.  However, a four in my book means, "I loved it."

That being said, I really enjoyed this book.  It was refreshing to read a novel where I was not constantly critiquing it.  I did not have to think about sentence structure or character development.  I was completely lost in the novel.  Orczy writes convincing characters.  I squirmed when the evil Chauvelin got his hands close to the heroine Marguerite, and my heart jumped with joy as things all worked out in the end, and the Scarlet Pimpernel outwitted them all.  I never guessed who the Scarlet Pimpernel was (as I was not familiar with the plot), though in my mind, I thought it would have been clever for him to actually be a woman.  And though I guessed part of the plot towards the end, I never had it all worked out - Orczy surprised me again in tying all the lose ends up neatly.  It was a great, fun mystery novel written with great insight into the history of that time.   The writing is almost poetic in a sense.  It's written with the language of Britain in the turn of the century, and those who enjoy reading classics will the enjoy the novel.  The only negative I would say I found was that it was a little fluffy at times.  I related to Marguerite well, but some may find the writing surrounding her character a little light - bringing to mind pink frills, curls, bows, and girly things.  However, the character herself improved throughout the novel, as she is an intricate part of the action that takes place.  

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel.  And I would recommend it to almost everyone.  I think it is a great story with a plot line that will keep most people interested and with enough history to educate those who are unfamiliar with the times of the French Revolution.  I gave it a 4/5 mostly because I could not see myself reading it over and over again.  But it is a definite great read.

No comments:

Post a Comment