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!