Welcome back to the What Are You Reading? Series! If you have no idea what’s going on feel free to take a look at the introductory post. Don’t forget at the end of the post to let me know your own thoughts and interpretations of the book. [Please note that if you haven’t commented before I recommend reading the Commenting Guidelines.]
And today’s book is……. *Drum roll*
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Author: Baroness Orczy
Genre: Adventure Fiction
First Published: 1905
This was my favorite book when I first read it back in middle school, but I couldn’t remember as to what made me love it so much so I believed it warranted a second read through.
Set during the Reign of Terror at the beginning of the French Revolution, The Scarlet Pimpernel follows our narrator Marguerite St. Just who has fled France to be with her husband Sir Percy. An event that took place before their marriage causes them to become estranged.
Meanwhile in France, The Scarlet Pimpernel and his crew of 19 Englishmen are on a mission to rescue the remaining French aristocracy from death. Marguerite, like the rest of England, has become fascinated by the tales of The Scarlet Pimpernel and his daring escapes.
But one night at a ball Marguerite meets an unseemly man, who has blackmailed her into helping the new French government in capturing The Scarlet Pimpernel in exchange for her brother’s life. Instead of going to her husband for help, she gives the information the man needs to reveal the identity of The Pimpernel. Regretting her mistake, she finally goes to her husband for help and he agrees to rescue her brother. In doing this she comes to the realization that her husband has been the daring Pimpernel all along, and goes after him to keep him from danger.
I remembered why I liked this book so much. Really great suspense and intrigue!
Within the first chapters there is only story establishment. Baroness Ocrzy takes her time to create the political setting of the story and make it much more important than the physical setting. This is also a way to create a makeshift prologue for the story since the political setting is the trigger and introduction of the title (but not main) character, the Scarlet Pimpernel.
It isn’t until chapter five that the main character is introduced; Margarite Blakeney, whose point of view is followed the most. Before we even reach Margarite herself, we are exposed to an outside view of her. A gold digger, the most clever woman in Europe, an evil woman, a liar, a loving sister, a hateful wife, the jewel of London society. You learn so much about her from the start that you aren’t even sure what to really think. Then you enter her mind and see who she is. Instead of being a hateful, gold digging wife, you see that she is just a scorned woman who believes that the husband that really worships her doesn’t love her anymore. His love for her has become a secret that she doesn’t even know. She is so loyal to her brother that she wanted revenge on the man who hurt it, but was easily manipulated to sending an entire family to their death. This ability to be manipulated is exploited further when Chauvelin uses a long believed power in a name. Here he uses her maiden name as a subtle way to bring her into his power, a way of blackmailing her for her misdeeds in France. Just a whisper of the name St. Just and her body goes into a sort of shock.
Through Margarite’s point of view, we see something that we don’t see much in action movies or even in many adventure stories anymore. The point of view in which we see the story through a companion or outsider. Sure in those action movies we see the “faithful” companion reveal that they betrayed the hero and still want to be redeemed, but have you even see the story through their eyes?
Going on to the tangent of point of views, the Baroness goes towards the story with many point of views taken, except for one person. Sir Percy Blakeney. We don’t ever enter his mind really but we see his actions. We see how he looks at Margarite as she walks away, how he kisses the steps after ripping her heart out with his distance. This sort of gives it away to me, but I still wanted to keep reading to find out for sure, or more just see how she reveals it.
And the Verdict is:
I would read this again, and I would love reading this to my children one day. One of the things that I really loved about this novel was the relationship between Margarite and Percy. He worships her and she at first takes it for granted. When he stops showing it she comes to truly love him. In the beginning, their relationship is shown as a one way street and since that is how Percy sees it, he wants it to change. In her revealing of her own secret before the story began, it caused their relationship to come to an almost standstill. In the revealing of Percy’s secret or more of a search for it creates a closeness between them that they didn’t really have before. It transforms their relationship into a more functional one. Their’s is one of the most passionate relationships I’ve read.
Now it’s your turn! If you’ve read it, what do you think of The Scarlet Pimpernel? Let me know in the comments! 😀
Want to keep up with this months What Are You Reading? choice? Click here to keep weekly up dates on this week’s book and more!