Saturday, 15 April 2017

Sofa Spotlight - The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy

I had no idea that so many people hadn’t heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel. You know that moment when someone asks you what are you reading and you tell them and then you are met with a blank stare and oh I’ve never heard of that comment. Yeah. Well that happened a lot when I was reading this. In fairness even though I had heard of the Scarlet Pimpernel I had no idea that there was a whole series of books written about him. He’s not a one off.

So who is the Scarlet Pimpernel? Well, it’s the French Revolution, or one of them anyway, and the aristocrats of France are finding their way to the guillotine. But there’s an English aristocrat who, with a band of about ten follows, is doing his best to save. No one knows who he is but he always leaves a note from the Scarlet Pimpernel.

This is no A Tale of Two Cities or Les Mis but I did enjoy it. Although I didn’t like Les Mis all that much. But back to the Scarlet Pimpernel. From what I can gather this is the first book in the series. So as readers we don’t know who the elusive Pimpernel is either. But you could probably hazard a good guess and get it right. It’s not massively obscure.

The big thing in this book is the drama. It’s like Baroness Orczy has thought about the most dramatic scenario that could possible happen, hyped it up a bit more and then written it into a novel. This is probably because the story first appeared as a play, so I guess you need the drama to be high for that.

At the start you hear of the legendary tales of the Pimpernel, which read not unlike Robin Hood legends. And then you meet some of the aristocrats that he has rescued. The two characters that are central to the book are Sir Percy Blakeney and his wife Marguerite. Marguerite is French and her brother is part of the Scarlet Pimpernel’s band. Chauvelin who is the most evil of evil villains knows that Marguerite’s brother has gone to France to work with the Pimpernel and he tries to use this knowledge to get Marguerite to find out and reveal the identity of the Pimpernel.

From the way it is written you can work out that things are going to end well, no matter how bad they may seem. It’s definitely a good read, fast paced and fun. Not something you should take too seriously. 

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