Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

136116“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.” (from Goodreads)

Complicated characters. A married romance. DISGUISES. It’s like someone took my Christmas list and wrote me a book. Seriously! This story by Emmuska Orczy is soooo brilliant. Even though this time was a re-read, the suspense was still terrible. (I couldn’t even remember what happened when Pimpernel and Chauvelin were eating together at the inn!)

I enjoyed the characters much more this time since I understood them. How could Sir Percy—”He, the sleepiest, dullest, most British Britisher that had ever set a pretty woman yawning”–be so laughable and endearing at the same time?!! And I used to think Marguerite was just plain silly, but now I understand her motives and fears and the corner she was backed into so much more fully. (Horrid Chauvelin!)

But the whole plot was complicated and brilliant–just how I like it, and I’m convinced that Steven Moffat sleeps with a copy under his pillow. 😉 And DISGUISES. Disguises of appearance and personality. 😀 Just a note that the first scene is setting the tone of the French Revolution so it’s pretty descriptive. I also didn’t appreciate the implied immorality at the inn, the mistaken idea that one character was “running away with her gallant”, and the frequent use of redacted language.

Best quotes: “The paper always contained a brief notice that the band of meddlesome Englishmen were at work, and it was always signed with a device drawn in red–a little star-shaped flower, which we in England call the Scarlet Pimpernel.”

“She waited there, out at sea, waited for her master, like a beautiful white bird all ready to take flight, and he would never reach her, never see her smooth deck again, never gaze any more on the white cliffs of England, the land of liberty and of hope.”

Altogether, I enjoyed my re-read very much. (And never has the song “God Save the King” been sooo precious. 😉 )


4 thoughts on “Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

  1. I love The Scarlet Pimpernel too. I first saw it as the movie version, which is half this book, half El Dorado one of the later books. But I miss the ending. I find it interesting because despite the Scarlet Pimpernel being very heroic, the books rarely end in a huge dramatic display. It’s a battle of wits rather than physical strength, and half the time Chauvelin has no idea he’s lost until it’s all over. I almost feel sorry for him at time, because Sir Percy is more than his match, and he never can win.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, really? That’s interesting that they mashed books together! A lot of the later books I’ve read seem to have *similar* storylines, so it might be easy to put them together.

      Do you prefer the book ending or the movie ending? Yes!! I love the battle of wits, although you’re right about Chauvelin–he can’t stand a chance against dear Percy. 😉


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