The Scarlet Pimpernel // Book Review

“They seek him here, they seek him there
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere"

~ Sir Percy Blackney, The Scarlet Pimpernel

Over the years, I have heard of The Scarlet Pimpernel here and there, but up until last year I knew very little of what the story was actually about. I always enjoy trying new things best with my family, so, when I finally decided to give this classic a try, it was unanimously agreed upon to be our next sister buddy/read-aloud.

 
Baroness Emma Orczy, 10 June 1920

The Scarlet Pimpernel was written first as a play by Baroness Orczy in 1903. Its success was so great that it was then published as a novel in 1905. 

The story begins in the year 1792, during the height of the French Revolution. Triumph has turned to terror, and all dilemmas in the city of Paris are answered in the form of executions. However, a mysterious Englishman, only known has "The Scarlet Pimpernel", has made it his mission to rescue the innocent French aristocracy from the clutches of Madame Guillotine.

 Madame Grand (Noël-Catherine Verlée, 1761–1835)  Artist: Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun
 
 
Lady Marguerite Blackeney, a former french actress, is now the belle of English society since her marriage to the silly and dandified, Sir Percy Blackney.
 
Upon discovering that her beloved brother's life hangs in the balance, Marguerite is thrown into a quandary. Should she aid her blackmailer in discovering the identity of the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel? Or should she turn to her frivolous husband for help? Perhaps the Scarlet Pimpernel himself is the only one who can solve this quandary!
 
 
Artist: Arturo Ricci (1854-1919) - Musical Soirée
 
I don't want to give away too many spoilers, but suffice it to say - we adored this book!
The writing was excellent and the drama impeccable. As secrets began to give way to answers, it was fascinating to see how Marguerite and Sir Percy managed to resolve their seemingly insurmountable differences. And as to the Scarlet Pimpernel and his league of compatriots, they were pretty fantastic as well!  We had a lot of good laughs along the way at some of the over-the-top drama and Sir Percy's ridiculous ways.
 
The historical setting was fascinating and has made us want to read some non-fiction books that explore the background and history of the French Revolution in more depth.
 
 You can read this book for free on Project Gutenberg HERE
And you can listen to this book for free on Librivox HERE
 
 
 
 Once we finished the book we decided that we had to round off the experience by watching a movie version of it!  We chose the 1982 adaptation to start with. 
 
This film combined the first book with some of the incidents that take place in the other books in the Scarlet Pimpernel series and they wove them together marvelously into a seamless plot. The script contained a lot of funny banter between Sir Percy and the villain, Chauvelin. 
 
Various family members watched it with us, and were able to follow the story line without ever having read the book. This movie even got a thumbs up from our brothers and has made it to our list of  re-watches.
 
So, if you decide you'd rather skip the read and watch the film . . .
You can watch the movie HERE

 
Naturally, we soon discovered that each one of us needed a copy of this gem of a book. Juuust in case we should all three decide to read The Scarlet Pimpernel simultaneously . . . which is very likely to happen once we begin discussing it. We have already begun working our way through the rest of The Scarlet Pimpernel series, and we'll have to keep you updated with how the series progresses!
 
From left to right: Bridget, Megan, and Brittany.
 
I am so glad we read this book together and can now form our own little league. Books are so much better when shared together!
 

 
 

2 Comments

  1. What a delightful review!! This sounds totally up my alley and I can't wait to read it. :) Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. ~ Anne

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    Replies
    1. Thank you so much, Anne! Hope you enjoy it if you get a chance to read it!

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