Beautiful Marguerite Blakeney is in a dilemma. Her brother Armand is in danger of sharing the fate of other French aristocrats and lose his head. Envoy Chauvelin offers her choice: help him find the Scarlet Pimpernel or her brother dies. As the wife of Sir Percy Blakeney, she rubs shoulders with the upper crust every day. She must use her reputation as 'the cleverest woman in Europe' to ferret the Pimpernel out. However, she is about to discover that he is closer than she could have imagined.
Baroness Orczy wrote The Scarlet Pimpernel in five weeks and it shows. The writing is abysmal. She uses 'fox-like', 'cat-like', 'woman-like' as her main adjectives and she uses them often. It's overly dramatic. None of the characters have two clues to rub together and are two dimensional. Is it possible to be one dimensional? Because if it is, they are. They're all a bit keystone cop. If Marguerite is the cleverest woman in Europe, I'd hate to see the dumb ones. Sir Percy is the only character I liked.
Orczy also throws all her prejudices into this book. The aristocrats are near perfect. The revolutionaries are evil. At one point, one of them cackles to himself. She also leans heavily on her anti-Semitic beliefs at the end of the novel. It's over the top. Consider yourself warned.
The Scarlet Pimpernel has been made into countless movies. Why? For all it's problems, the premise is pretty good! A man with everything to lose risks his life to save strangers and he does it with panache. It makes for great television but not a great book. In the hands of someone like Dumas it could have been so much more.
It's a quick read and doesn't require much thought. If you'd like to kill an afternoon with an easy read, you might like this light adventure story.
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