Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Publishing Date: January 3, 2011 (First Published 1905)

Publisher: Simon and Brown

Pages: 268 (Paperback)

My Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
Armed with only his wits and his cunning, one man recklessly defies the French revolutionaries and rescues scores of innocent men, women, and children from the deadly guillotine. His friends and foes know him only as the Scarlet Pimpernel. But the ruthless French agent Chauvelin is sworn to discover his identity and to hunt him down.


This is another one of those "for-school" books that no one gets excited about.  I saw that we had to read it and my basic thought process was, "Dude.  Seriously? This is ridiculous.  No one wants to read this."  And, yes, for the most part, no one in my grade really wanted to read the book.  But we all had to.  So, I sucked it up and started.

The best thing that I can compare The Scarlet Pimpernel to is a Jane Austen novel, for those of you who have read any books by her.  I would say the structures are almost parallel.  

Let me lay it out for you: 

The beginning: dreadfully, awfully, painfully slow.  Horrid beyond compare.  Makes me want to throw the book across the room.  Or vomit.  It's awful.  (This is where the 5th star is lost.)

The slightly-after-beginning-slightly-before-the-middle: decent.  I can maybe tolerate this.

The middle: Wow.  This is growing on me.

The turning point (around the middle, somewhere in there (here we mirror Jane Austen novels): BAM.  WHOA.  DUDE.  I SUDDENLY CANNOT PUT THIS DOWN.



So, as you can see, this book did not turn out to be too bad.  I was so sucked into this book that I ended up reading majority of it over Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  Which, is an extremely busy time, and it is quite amazing to me that I was able to do it.  I seriously couldn't set it down.

The basic set up for The Scarlet Pimpernel: for those of you history fans, this is set during the French Revolution.  For those of you who aren't so interested in history (or if you are, but you can barely remember  high school history classes), basically, the French Revolution was a BLOODY war where the French common people overthrew their monarchy.  Thousands upon thousands of French nobles in that time period (including the king and his wife) were put under the guillotine (beheading device) and sentenced to death for nothing more than a mere rumor or for their title.

In this book, Baroness Orczy takes the facts from the French Revolution and adds in her own story line, that of an elusive, mysterious hero under the title "Scarlet Pimpernel".  The Scarlet Pimpernel takes these nobles, who had committed no crime other than their titles, and sneaks them out of Paris and into England, the "safe-zone", where the French Government cannot touch them.

Basically, this book blew my expectations out of the water.  The reader is SO emotionally attached to the characters, and the story is filled with the perfect balance of action and romance.  As strange as it may sound, it is actually a quite interesting book that captivates many who read it.

Favorite quote from the book:
"Fate is usually swift when she deals a blow."

Peace out Girl Scouts!

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