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!
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy is the second last book I needed to read for the Back to the Classics Challenge of 2014. I don’t know now why I left it so long. It is a fairly short, easy read, with plenty of action.
It is 1792. Lady Marguerite Blakeney, a former French actress, is fed up with life with her lazy, indolent English husband – Sir Percy Blakeney. She dreams of meeting the swashbuckling “Scarlet Pimpernel”, the leader of a group of 20 dashing young English nobles who have made it their mission to rescue French aristocrats from the revolutionary government, and Madame Guillotine. Then disaster befalls her. Citizen Chauvelin, an agent of the French government, approaches her to warn her that he has evidence her brother is in league with the Scarlet Pimpernel. He gives her a choice: help him discover the identity of her hero, or her brother goes to the guillotine in his place.
As you can imagine, the plot is fairly predictable, and the clues to the Pimpernel’s true identity are about as subtle as a sledgehammer. Orczy frequently describes Marguerite as being renowned for her cleverness, yet she is the last person in the novel to figure out the truth. She is redeemed however, as she chooses to attempt to warn the Pimpernel of his danger, risking her own life to do so.
I actually really enjoyed this one, and can give no higher recommendation than to say that of all the books I’ve read for this challenge, The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first one I can genuinely see myself reading again. Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for my review of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, my wrap-up post for the 2014 challenge, and my announcement post for the 2015 challenge!