The Scarlet Pimpernel
Baroness Emma Orczy
This is not a title I see on many TBR lists. Ok, I never see this on TBR lists. It was not on the top of mine, but I remembered that I had planned to read it to my kids when we came to the French Revolution in our history studies.
The story of the Scarlet Pimpernel is no stranger to our family. Five years ago, we met Sir Percy and Lady Blakeney, the hero and heroine of The Scarlet Pimpernel. They were guests at our closing school year ball, back in 2013.
|Sir Percy & Lady Blakeney|
|Our family w/ Sir Percy and Lady Blakeney|
Sir Percy was a big hit with the ladies.
|Sir Percy Blakeney, pretending to be asleep|
But in all seriousness, I knew about the plot (though instead of reading the book, I watched the 1982 film, staring Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews), and it is a very charming story. Since it took place during the Reign of Terror (and the Scarlet Pimpernel is rather like a super hero - and what kid doesn't like super heroes?), I had to read it to my kids.
The underlying focus is the courageous band of men, led by the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel who leaves his identifying mark behind when he has done his deed, which is to rescue French aristocrats from the grip of the bloodthirsty revolutionaries during the Reign of Terror.
There are some twists and turns in the plot, which keep you guessing and wondering, until the very end when the true identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel is revealed. And of course, there is a happy ending.
Frankly, as I have already said, the story is charming and sweet, but what I miss from the book is the strong emotion between Percy and his wife. There is a terrible misunderstanding that causes a rift between them for much of the story, and the film does a better job expressing and revealing those feelings. Or maybe I was just focusing too much time on trying to pronounce all the French words properly that I missed the emotion. Ah, well.
In addition, the film changed some of the details of the action, including the way the story ended (with a sword fight, because sword fights are cool), but without compromising the plot. The book ending was a little dubious, but maybe because I am partial to sword fights.
|Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews, 1982|
Is this book for you?
Simply, if you love sweet love stories, with a bit of adventure and lightheartedness, this is a short, but sweet (haha) love story, with a happy ending. But do watch the 1982 film version (for free on Youtube) because the movie bridges some gaps in the story, and the emotion and chemistry between Seymour and Andrews is just perfect.