Monday, February 25, 2013

Book Review and Book Club Report: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orszy

Book: The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
Genre: Classic 
Rating: ★★★★★
For: Book Club
From: book club set from the library

Way back about nine years ago I read this for the first time as one of the first books this book club read! (Actually, in looking at my list, it WAS the very first book!) And now we've come full circle and read it again! I loved it then, and I loved it again.

It's the story of a British guy and his buddies who have taken it upon themselves to help rescue people who have been sentenced to die by the guillotine during the French Revolution, specifically during the Reign of Terror. In order to not be discovered and caught, he masks his true personality by acting like a crazy fool. Despite this, he has married a lovely (and smart?) French actress. They were quite in love at the first, but since then he has had cause to lose his trust. They are estranged and it makes them both sad... and the lady (Marguerite) is baffled as to why.

This is the story of how she discovers many interesting things about her fool of a husband, Percy, and gets herself needlessly involved in a rescue!

I love it because it's a fast-paced, intriguing yet easy-to-read story. I love the drama and the excitement. I love the romance that's there, but not there. I love the character of Percy, how he is first one way and then another. I love the time period and the setting. I love the movies and musical that have been based on this story.

Bottom line: It's a fun enjoyable story, and I love it.

Book Club's Thoughts:

We didn't have a whole lot to say about the book at book club! Everyone (most everyone!) seemed to enjoy  it and read through it quite quickly. The main consensus was that the character of Marguerite was very unlikable and that her place in the story is a mystery, that she served no purpose. It was mentioned that while reading it, you didn't really think about that, but afterwards it hits you that she is quite the drama queen and really does the story no good. Well, except for the romance part of the story of course!

We talked about how there are many "sequels" with the Scarlet Letter character and his other adventures. I hadn't realized this and it makes me want to check those out and see what they are like!

Other Reviews:

True, it veers dangerously close to being a romance novel, but there are adequate numbers of buckles being swashed and swashes being buckled that I'm still terming it "historical adventure." From Collateral Bloggage

I do remember that I loved the romance and the action of this tale based loosely on the French Revolution. I was still spellbound by the romance and drama of it all. From BooksPlease

One of the things wrong with this book: Marguerite. What a useless character! She was used as a plot device. There was all this set up like she might actually be of some help but she never was. So freaking infuriating. From Alternate Readality

I enjoyed the book, it had a very lovely flow to the writing, that made it easy to get lost in the book, not to mention the character, the Scarlet Pimpernel, was a fun character to read about and root for, making for a very enjoyable read. From Jules' Book Reviews

Here's a fun scene from the musical, though the sound is a bit off.


  1. I read this in high school when we were studying the French Revolution and loved it. When I re-read it many years later, I just didn't feel like it lived up to my memory of it. Sort of a letdown.

    1. Tina: Yeah, I can see that it could do that.

  2. I love this book and the movie version with Jane Seymour is one of my favorite movies. Also, that lovely clip you posted? And that wonderfully talented man playing Percy? I've met him. Got my program signed, a picture with him and then shook his hand. It was so amazing!

  3. I can't believe you read it again! If I read it again I'm pretty sure my eyes would roll right out of my head.

    1. Jenny: I'll pick them up for you... maybe! LOL! :)

  4. I've been seeing this one pop up several times on a few blogs I've been reading. I'm thinking I'll have to check it out. Thanks Suey! :)

  5. I had a teacher that made us watch the movie of this in Middle School, and the teacher was an idiot, and it kind of made me hate this. I don't know if I'll ever get over my experience to read it.

  6. Ha ha! I love that you included a scene from the musical. I had no idea it was musical until you said it was at book club. I must see this some time.

  7. I love this book. I've seen the movie with Anthony Edwards and Jane Seymour more times than I probably should admit. I am hesitant to read any more of the series (?) because I felt the first one ended so perfectly. Marguerite is pretty worthless but she is what makes Blakeney so awesome.

  8. I have only read the one, but on a re-read a couple of years ago, it definitely held up. It may have even been better the second time around!! Great one!!



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