Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Baroness Orczy


Each day this question grew more pressing to the tillers of the French Revolution. Only this man and his band of followers threatened their total power. Only this maddeningly elusive figure defied the vast network of fanatics, informers and secret agents that the Revolution spread out to catch its enemies.

Some said this man of many disguises, endless ruses and infinite daring was an exiled French nobleman, returned to wreak vengeance. Others said he was an English lord, seeking sheer adventure and supreme sport in playing the most dangerous game of all. But of only one thing could those who sought him be sure. They knew all too well the symbol of his presence, the blood-red flower known as the Scarlet Pimpernel....
I started the Scarlet Pimpernel with no real expectations. While I had heard about it and was curious I was surprised by how much I liked it.

Most of the story is told from the point of view of Marguerite St Just, the beautiful French wife of Sir Percy Blakeney, apparently a British dandy only interested in fashion and not particularly bright. When they wed, a year previously, Marguerite had felt that there was more to her husband than what is apparent but when, on the day after the wedding, she tells him of her part in sending some French aristocrats to the guillotine the couple becomes estranged and only share the same social functions.

London's society is abuzz with news of a certain adventurer, someone known as the Scarlet Pimpernel who has been rescuing French aristocrats from certain death and bring them to England. The French authorities are desperate to know who he is, and stop him, and Marguerite finds herself blackmailed by the French ambassador. Either she helps him finding the identity of The Scarlet Pimpernel or her brother will be imprisoned and executed for treachery.

Although not reconciled with the idea of sending a man she admires to jail Marguerite finds she has no choice, but after she delivers some information to the ambassador and after she tries one more time to break through her husband’s coldness towards her, he leaves on an apparent business journey and she discovers that he is the Scarlet Pimpernel. What follows is an adventurous and dangerous journey to warn Percy of danger.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is essentially a fast paced adventure story. We know, or guess right quickly,  who the characters are and what role they play from the beginning, we feel with Marguerite the sorrow for Percy's rejection, her despair at having endangered him and her happiness when everything is revealed. It's a very entertaining story and I can't wait to watch the movie made of it. Just lovely!

Grade: 4.5/5


  1. I've been meaning to read this one for eons. Keep getting side-tracked.

  2. Loved this one! Do you intend to read the other Pimpernel books?

  3. I have an enduring love for Sir Percy Blakeney and his friends!

    They seek him here, they seek him there!

  4. This has absolutely nothing to do with The Scarlet Pimpernel . . . but because I love embroidery and historical fiction and because I have published a fantasy, The Stumpwork Robe, where one of the lead characters is named Ana, I just felt I needed to make a connection.

    However, in respect of TSP, I am very fond of Sir Percy, both in the book form and as acted by Richard E Grant in the wonderful BBC TV series. How often do I use the phrase 'They seek him here etc.', let alone the ubiquitous RE Grant expletive 'Sink me!' Shall look forward to more of your blog.

  5. Wonderful review Ana! This classic had been on my TBR for years. I think you just moved it up a notch or two.

  6. Misfit and Teddy you should definitely pick it up. I enjoyed it so very much.

    Christy, I plan to although I'm a bit worried that they wont be as entertaining as this one. Percy seems so much bigger than life, can the others possibly be as good?

    Marg, I guess you have read the others uh?

    Prue, what a coincidence! I must look for your fantasy then. And I must look for that series, I watched the movie with Jane Seymour this week but found that I loved the book much more.

  7. Actually no. I have watched a couple of different TV series/movies but not read any more books. They are all available for free online.

  8. Which were your favourites? Movies and series I mean...

  9. It's hard to go past the Richard Grant version.

  10. Ok, with 2 recommendations that is definitely the one I'll be picking up next!

  11. The only spin-off I've read so far is The Elusive Pimpernel, and while it wasn't as good as the original, Percy is still hilarious.

    I'd really recommend watching the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour/Ian McKellen version. It's probably the most loved. And Andrews is just perfection.


I love to chat about books and stuff and I would love to hear from like minded readers. Please do leave me a comment :-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...