10 May 2016

Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

TD;DR: It’s an episodic adventure, like Howard Pyle’s Robin Hood, with a playful hero and his merry band engaged in a daring game.


The book is written by the Baronness Orczy, and she makes Lady Blakeney a protagonist, which I’d never noticed in the movie. We get to see her thoughts, worries, and awe (though not tons of choosing or acting). Interestingly, she tests her Percy to see if he will love her in exchange for his honor, and he doesn’t do it.

The book ends feeling like only a short episode was concluded and not the overall story. Which is true, as apparently there’s a sequel which covers the rest of the movie. Not sure when I’ll get to reading it.


These two quotes are about the elegance of womanhood, and reminded me of some of the Goddess passages in SONG OF LOCKE. I also felt justified that a woman would write the same sort of things:

  • “She stood there before them, in all the unconscious insolence of beauty, and stretched out her dainty hand to them, as if she would, by that one act, bridge over the conflict and bloodshed of the past decade.”
  • “The commands of a beautiful woman are binding on all mankind, even on Cabinet Ministers.”


Since this quote is a conversation, I thought it needed its own heading. I love this concept of daring sport. Bully, just bully! (Though I can’t help but believe he was hiding some nobles oblige in his answer.)
“Ah, monsieur,” sighed the Comtesse, “it all sounds like a romance, and I cannot understand it all.”
“Why should you try, Madame?”
“But, tell me, why should your leader—why should you all—spend your money and risk your lives—for it is your lives you risk, Messieurs, when you set foot in France—and all for us French men and women, who are nothing to you?”
“Sport, Madame la Comtesse, sport,” asserted Lord Antony, with his jovial, loud and pleasant voice; “we are a nation of sportsmen, you know, and just now it is the fashion to pull the hare from between the teeth of the hound.”
“Ah, no, no, not sport only, Monsieur... you have a more noble motive, I am sure for the good work you do.”
“Faith, Madame, I would like you to find it then... as for me, I vow, I love the game, for this is the finest sport I have yet encountered... hair-breath escapes... the devil’s own risks! —Tally ho!—and away we go!”


As a fictionist, I have to praise the movie too. The writers took a cool concept and shaped it into a short, well-balanced plot arc, actually combining two of the books. They also add some aspects, like the potential for romance between Chauvelin and Lady Blakeney, which actually increases the drama. Often when I dislike a movie, it’s the scriptwriters who are to blame; in this case they did a fantastic job. I like how they made it a tad more serious and down to business.

Thanks for being part of J’s Reading Club!

If you want to read along, here’s what coming next:

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • Happiness by Matthieu Riccard

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— J