Armed With Only His Wits And His Cunning, One Man Recklessly Defies The French Revolutionaries And Rescues Scores Of Innocent Men, Women, And Children From The Deadly Guillotine His Friends And Foes Know Him Only As The Scarlet Pimpernel But The Ruthless French Agent Chauvelin Is Sworn To Discover His Identity And To Hunt Him Down When the guillotine dropped quickly, remorselessly, and often, there arose a mysterious Englishman, who crossed the channel, to rescue the French Aristocrats mostly innocent victims , he called himself, The Scarlet Pimpernel Named after a modest, British flower, this person organized a band of twenty high born men, he like the flower, was unpretentious Their daring deeds thrilled the world, Antoine Fouquier Tinville director of the French government, wants to capture these enemies Offers 5,000 francs, for the head of the unknown leader, but the brilliant Pimpernel, has supernatural powers, they sayThe Terror was just beginning, Sir Percy Blakeney is a rather silly, unintelligent, fop everyone thought so Percy travels in High Society, his friend is the dissolute Prince of Wales, similar men are his young followers, and copy all Blakeney s latest clothes he wears Recite his witty words, the riches man in England was surprisingly the secret chief of this group of daredevils, in perilous FranceHaving recently married a French actress, Marguerite St Just, the most beautiful, smart woman in the country All her friends, were stunned, she had many suitors, love of money, undoubtedly was the reason A hard, precarious childhood, Marguerite and her older brother, Armand, endured, as they lost their parents, at an early age Unusually close, they depended on each other to survive, but still, how can she, lower herself to such a nitwit dandy With an irritating laugh Her many friends, can t accept itIn Paris the barricades, surround the city, everyone leaving, is thoroughly searched Their carts, barrels, animals, all that goes by, particularly the frightened citizens, the fleeing aristocrats, can t get out An old, ugly woman, approaches the western barricades, the cart will not be searched, her grandson has the plague, she saysThe guards, back away and the vehicle slowly passes, into the countryside, never to be seen again Yes, The Scarlet Pimpernel, is the old woman, and some nobles are hidden, in the wagon Sir Percy is a master of disguise, it will save his life, numerous times The Committee of Safety, the notorious Revolutionary French government, sends an agent to England, to find out, the identity of this Scarlet Pimpernel Such a silly name Citizen Chauvelin , the spy, is also an accredited official, of the bloody, French regime, and a former friend of Lady Blakeney When her brave brother, or foolish, Armand, working for her husband, in France, to help some Aristocrats escape, is apprehended The Day Dream , Sir Percy s yacht, which has been used, often, to get them, across the sea, back to freedom England , needs to sail in the opposite direction But now the ruthless Chauvelin, threatens to kill Armand, if Lady Blakeney, doesn t find out who is the Scarlet PimpernelAnd she is in the dark, that her despised, idiot of a husband, is that person Will Marguerite, have to choose between her husband and her beloved brother , one must die Appearances are not always reality, as this book shows A man wears a mask, for the world, but inside, he is a totally different animal. I ve always had a thing for books that use the Scarlet Pimpernel trope the intelligent, capable person who hides behind a mask of inanity So Emma Orczy gets extra points from me for popularizing this secret identity plot device in her 1905 book The Scarlet Pimpernel.It s 1792, the early days of the French Revolution, and the Reign of Terror is at its peak thousands of French aristocrats, men, women and children, are sent to the guillotine, regardless of actual fault But a group of brave English noblemen, led by the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, are rescuing many of the condemned French aristocrats and spiriting them away to England French authorities are outraged.Meanwhile, Marguerite St Just, a lovely French actress who inexplicably married the slow witted, foppish but extremely wealthy Sir Percy Blakeney, is having issues in her marriage she thought her rather foolish husband adored her, but they ve drifted far apart, ever since she confessed to him that her accusation against a French noble family resulted in their deaths, while being too proud to explain the whole story to him She s not quite sure why, but now she finds she misses the adoration of the big galoot.But Marguerite has worse problems the French envoy to England is blackmailing her into spying for him, so he can find out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is and make sure he dies the next time he sets foot in France If she doesn t cooperate, her beloved brother Armand will be guillotined.This is an old fashioned adventure romance novel, not terribly deep but an easy, enjoyable read, for a hundred year old book anyway It occasionally gets high on the melodrama I about lost it when Sir Percy view spoiler passionately kisses the places Marguerite s feet and hand have touched, half crazed with frustrated love hide spoiler 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 The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness OrczyIt s been too long since I last enjoyed a classic novel and I was beginning to fear that I was falling out of love with my favourite genre Well, I found the remedy with The Scarlet Pimpernel What a lot of fun The French Revolution is one of my favourite periods of history to learn about despite the morbidity and the violence and cruelty It s shocking to be reminded of the fact that even children were guillotined It makes you wonder why on earth people felt the need to be so barbaric and unforgiving.Baroness Orczy also introduces us to one of the most interesting characters in literature, in my opinion, Sir Percival Blakeney, Bart., aka The Scarlet Pimpernel His character is an example of what I d call the Columbo effect, a dopey demeanour that puts people at ease and disguises sheer brilliance Sir Percy is a fop who is obsessed with fashion and making inane comments that amuse those around him Surely he can t be the Scarlet Pimpernel Rick Flair talks about The Scarlet Pimpernel.WHOOOOOOOAAAAA LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHIN, BROTHER, THIS IS ONE BAD MAMMA JAMMA OF A BOOK, YOU KNOW WHAT I M SAYIN Let me step it down a notch for you literary librarian types and let me pose a question was the Scarlet Pimpernel the first masked superhero I mean I m thinkin about Batman, Green Hornet, The Shadow right All those cats had a hidden identity and they had their crime fightin side too YOU KNOW WHAT I M SAYIN The Stylin , profilin , limousine riding, jet flying, kiss stealing, wheelin n dealin son of a gun WHOOOOOOOAAAAA For all you who don t know, this was set in the French Revolution and unlike us in AMERICA who settled our fight the old fashioned way, those FRENCHIES took to choppin off HEADS of the old French aristocracy and royalty And while the author, a BARONESS herself, gives some objective reasons for the French dislike of the uppity rich folks, she has her hero THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL ride across the English Channel and rescue French royals.And just like RICK FLAIR, THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL IS A CLASS ACT ALL THE WOMEN WANT TO BE WITH HIM AND ALL THE MEN WANT TO BE HIM The English at least.WHOOOOOOOAAAAA Don t wanna hand out any SPOILERS to you readers who don t know about this HUNDRED AND SOMETHIN year old book, but THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL pretends to be an English FOP when he s not out rescuin Frenchies from MADAM FREAKIN GUILLOTINE So read up and get some culture from this CLASSIC WHOOOOOOOAAAAA I have seen a movie version on this book at some point but I had not read the book I am so glad I did I highly recommend it Don t rely on the movie versions of this classic, they don t do it justice If you have an e reader this book should be free I ordered mine on Kindle There were some typos here and there, but nothing serious. Okay, I read this for exactly two reasons one, I thought this book was on The List it s not and two, the Scarlet Pimpernel is the inspiration for the Bruce Wayne Batman dichotomy and I am a giant dork For a book about a secret team of English nobleman working to rescue French nobles from the scary revolutionists who want them dead, this is a surprisingly unexciting book The pace is fast, and there s plenty of spying and blackmailing and races against time, but there isn t a single fistfight, swordfight, gunfight or slapping fight in the whole book There s sort of a chase scene at the end, but the pursued party is in a slow moving cart and the pursuer is on foot There s plenty of drama and intrigue and excitement, but just one duel would have been nice Luckily, the characters are all great Sir Percy, in addition to being a precursor to Bruce Wayne s vigilante disguised as idiot rich boy act, also reminded me of Lord Peter Wimsey another fan of the Badass Disguised as Fop method , which was awesome His archenemy is Chauvelin, basically the French version of Hans Landa in Inglorious Basterds, and everybody was generally so cool that I forgot about how amazingly not scary a name like Scarlet Pimpernel is The true hero of this story, surprisingly, is not the Scarlet Pimpernel He mostly stays in the background while people talk about him, and throughout the whole book we never really get to see him in action Instead, we see almost everything through the eyes of Sir Percy s wife, Marguerite, who despite everything manages to be awesome The issue I had with Marguerite was that she s repeatedly referred to as the cleverest woman in Europe, but god damn is she stupid Sir Percy might as well have been dancing around wearing a sign that read Hello, I am secretly the Scarlet Pimpernel and she wouldn t figure it out At one point, Marguerite snoops around in Percy s study and sees the following objects maps of the English and French coastlines on the walls, and a small ring with a scarlet pimpernel flower engraved on it Marguerite stares blindly at these objects and is like, But what does it all mean The major flaw in the Percy Marguerite marriage was a lack of communication First we find out that Marguerite had a French family arrested by accident before she was married, and never told Percy about it even after she found out that she d made a mistake Then, when Chauvelin tells Marguerite that she has to work as a spy for him or he ll kill her brother, Marguerite doesn t tell her husband what s going on until after she sells out the Pimpernel without knowing who he is I mean, Jesus Also he s in disguise for the last part of the book and it was so fucking obvious which character was actually Percy in disguise I wanted to throw the book at the wall.But fortunately, this all ends with Marguerite becoming awesome, racing against the clock to save her husband and defeat Chauvelin, and the ending between Percy and Marguerite is surprisingly sweet and very satisfying that got a bit rambly, didn t it Anyway, in conclusion a fun espionage story, even if it s not as swashbuckling as I expected and everyone except the Pimpernel is an idiot I ll be looking up the movie version soon, and will likely prefer it to the book. 9 10 Ah, classic. How I had always imagined that the classics are only for those who are born, brought up, spoon fed in and potty trained in English and how wrong was I to think that they are out of the reach of people like me who had only subnormal command over the English language Among many other popular authors of the classic era,Emmuska Orczywas a name much bandied about for her magnum opus,The Scarlet Pimpernel, even during my school days I can t quite pinpoint the exact reason why I was motivated to choose this book as the first proper classic novel that I will ever read, but it sure delivered the necessary impact that made me change my course of this book journey of my life and embrace the uphill task of delving into the treasure trove of works left behind by the writers of yonder and unearth the hidden riches of the literature world that I have so far eschewed This story describes the many facets of the post revolution France and the ripples that reflected off from places as far as London The story is written in a simple, lucid style and the narrative is very straightforward and candid, that never once did I feel like I am in the middle of a momentous undertaking as this one A MYSTERY, BUT NOT QUITEThe story traces the mysterious ways of one enigmatic Englishman who works under the sobriquet of The Scarlet Pimpernel and plots ingenious ways to bring back the doomed aristocrats from the very verge of death to the safety of the English hospitality Throughout the first half, we are left to our own devices to hazard a guess as to who this Scarlet Pimpernel could be and the sense of bewilderment ties you to the story to the hilt After all, you have been hearing about this titular character for ages and you are only a few hours away from learning the true identity of this much celebrated hero of all ages On a parallel timeline, you are treated to the boisterous and always in the spotlight kind of life of Lady Blakeney aka Marguerite St Just who is popular equally among the intelligentsia and the fashionistas of the 18th century London and her ridiculously rich but inanely infectious laughter along with other attributes husband Sir Percy Blakeney. Her undulating affections for Sir Percy ranging from utter hatred for his foolish ways to unconditional love for the worshipper in him keep us riveted to the story in an effort to help us understand which direction a witty woman s feelings for a dim witted husband should swing towards A THRILLER BUT NOT QUITEThe beginning of the second part is what should be the one to reveal the identity of the RESCUER EXTRAORDINNAIRE himself This is where Lady Blakeney is unwittingly fooled into aiding in the capture of The Scarlet Pimpernel by the evil French official Monsieur Chauvelin, who used to be her close associate during her young days in France, in return for her beloved brother Armand s life Her arduous journey in a league member Sir Andrew Ffoulkes company to save her loved ones or die alongside them trying presents to us the typical dilemma of choosing one of two equally valuable things and that s why this novel is worthy of being hailed as one of the finest precursors to the modern day whodunits, even though the dearth of a multitude of characters made it easy for the readers to zero in on the suspect not in the usual life taker sense, but in the unusual life saver sense Oh, and you wouldn t quite believe how the quirky masks and strange countenances helped our dashing hero to slip away right from under the nose of his archenemy.That this novel is a wonderful commentary on love, family, gallantry, friendship, loyalty, commitment and betrayal in the times of turmoil comes as no surprise to me But, ifsimplecould move me so much, in this age where there is a tendency among people to complicate things, and usher in a paradigm shift in my reading habit, then I owe it to this brilliant, elegant yet plain prose And this story makes hero worshipping only that much better.PS If you read my review, you d notice that I have left a clue as to who the eponymous Scarlet Pimpernel is Gah, the joy of giving away to the world the secret identity of someone you know Human nature is century independent, huh Odd s Fish Is this book an action adventure, a romance, historical fiction Baroness Orczy has provided us with all that Tis a fun romp, I say Had I known how much of this story was romance, I might not have read it but then I would have missed out on how good an all round story it really is.Baroness Orczy was a playwright and this book was adapted into a play or the play was adapted into the book I know not which was first It does have it s faults but still deserving of it s place in literary history Sir Percy Blakeney is an English dandy in his normal life But it is when he takes on the guise as The Scarlet Pimpernel that he becomes a hero to the French aristocrats Crossing the English channel on his yacht, The Day Dream, in order to save.these aristocrats from their adjudged doom upon the guillotine Tally ho and away we go This book s disguised hero story line, first published in 1905, has been accredited with giving inspiration to several other literary heroes such as Batman, Zorro and The Shadow.Yeah, yeah, yeah, Now I know not where those writers received their inspiration but surely there had been other, earlier, similar stories First comes to mind, The Bible Josiah disguised himself in order to make war with Neco, King of Egypt This adventure didn t turn out good for Josiah So close, but not quite.Then I look to ol Willy Shakes You gotta know Shakespeare couldn t, wouldn t leave this type story line alone Measure for Measure, fitting title I believe, is a play written by Shakespeare back in 1603 In this play Vincentio, the Duke of Vienna, lets everyone know that he is leaving the city on a diplomatic mission.What he does then is stay in the city disguised as Friar Lodowick in order to observe the governing of the city in his absence At the end of the play The Duke reveals himself in order the save an innocent man from the guillotine. If, like me, you watched the movie times than you d care to admit when you were growing up or if, like me, you ve read all of Georgette Heyer s Regency romances and then some, you ll love this book It doesn t pretend to be anything extraordinary, it doesn t even offer a social commentary on the period in which it s set written by an aristocrat who is clearly on the side of the aristocrats, it s easy to see where her sympathies lie But it is a rollicking good ride, a fun adventure story, a very sweet and at times intense love story, and a daring, cunning dash into danger For sheer entertainment s sake, I loved it.Set in 1792 during the French Revolution when, if your history is a bit hazy, the French people rose up in revolt and began executing their wealthy aristocracy on Madame Guillotine including the King and Marie Antoinette their young son was famously unaccounted for, if I remember correctly stories of innocent aristocrats especially women and children, who were beheaded alongside the men being rescued and taken to England are perfect for a romantic adventure story When I was a little girl, my mother s best friend returned from a trip to Russia, where her family was from, with a birthday gift for me a book printed in Yugoslavia called Girls Adventure Stories of Long Ago The very first story, and my favourite, was about a young girl fleeing France who is rescued by a Englishman with a secret identity, going by the name of Red Hawk Adventure and romance ensued So between that story and watching my sister s copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel, I was an early fan.Lady Marguerite Blakeney is a beautiful, clever young French woman, once an actress, now wife to Sir Percy Blakeney, one of the richest and most well dressed men in England and also, so everyone thinks, one of the most inane and stupid When her brother Armand, who is working on the side of the Revolution in France, is found out to be in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel, the man in charge of hunting down the Pimpernel, Chauvelin, uses the damning knowledge to blackmail Marguerite into helping him discover the Scarlet Pimpernel s true identity When she realises who the Scarlet Pimpernel really is, though, it s too late to save him or her brother she must to France to warn them, but Chauvelin s trap is closing in fast.Originally written for the stage in 1902 by Baroness Orczy, it became so popular that she novelised it a few years later In the 1982 film, Anthony Andrews while lacking the impressive height and shoulder breadth described of Sir Percy in the book did a fantastic job of portraying the urbane fop who hides his cunning and resourceful mind behind a mask of stupidity I can think of a couple of heroes Georgette Heyer wrote who were likely inspired by Sir Percy He is wonderfully charismatic, and the love he suppresses for his wife ever since he found out her role in the execution of an aristocrat, makes for a truly bittersweet romance They both must learn to trust one another and work through misunderstandings in order to be happy again.The pacing might be too slow for some readers, but I found the details engrossing and the build up of tension and anticipation gut tightening While the first half of the book was recreated closely in the movie, the second half is quite different It was a pleasurable surprise, and made the book less predictable than I was expecting It might not have the cinematic build up of the movie, or that final classic sword fight between Percy and Chauvelin, but I found the original ending to be just as satisfying and far less clich d The characters are well drawn and feel very real we mostly get Marguerite s perspective never Percy s , and while she doesn t always make the best decisions, she is at least understandable and even sympathetic The true hero is, of course, the Scarlet Pimpernel, whose modern equivalent would be Batman a superhero without superpowers, unless you count enormous wealth and a sharp mind.