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The Scarlet Pimpernel

Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Book Overview: 

The Scarlet Pimpernel is set in 1792, during the early stages of the French Revolution. Marguerite St. Just, a beautiful French actress, is the wife of wealthy English fop Sir Percy Blakeney, a baronet. Before their marriage, Marguerite took revenge upon the Marquis de St. Cyr, who had ordered her brother to be beaten for his romantic interest in the Marquis' daughter, with the unintended consequence of the Marquis and his sons being sent to the guillotine. When Percy found out, he became estranged from his wife. Marguerite, for her part, became disillusioned with Percy's shallow, dandyish lifestyle.

Meanwhile, the "League of the Scarlet Pimpernel", a secret society of 20 English aristocrats, "one to command, and nineteen to obey", is engaged in rescuing their French counterparts from the daily executions (see Reign of Terror). Their leader, the mysterious Scarlet Pimpernel, takes his nickname from the drawing of a small red flower with which he signs his messages. Despite being the talk of London society, only his followers and possibly the Prince of Wales know the Pimpernel's true identity. Like many others, Marguerite is entranced by the Pimpernel's daring exploits. (summary by Wikipedia)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .passing clouds, the pale rays of an after-storm sun shone upon the beautiful white coast of Kent and the quaint, irregular houses that clustered round the Admiralty Pier. Marguerite Blakeney stepped on to the porch and looked out to sea. Silhouetted against the ever-changing sky, a graceful schooner, with white sails set, was gently dancing in the breeze. The DAY DREAM it was, Sir Percy Blakeney's yacht, which was ready to take Armand St. Just back to France into the very midst of that seething, bloody Revolution which was overthrowing a monarchy, attacking a religion, destroying a society, in order to try and rebuild upon the ashes of tradition a new Utopia, of which a few men dreamed, but which none had the power to establish.

In the distance two figures were approaching "The Fisherman's Rest": one, an oldish man, with a curious fringe of grey hairs round a rotund and massive chin, and who walked with that peculiar rolling gait which invariably betrays the se. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Here's my new and improved title for this book...
The Scarlet Pimpernel: A Classic That Doesn't Suck Sweaty Balls.

I can't usually make it through classic literature.
Does this make me a bad person?
I think not.
There are manymanymany other things I do on a daily basis that make me a bad person, but not being able to...book...more

When the guillotine dropped quickly, remorselessly, and often, there arose a mysterious Englishman, who crossed the channel, to rescue the French Aristocrats ( mostly innocent victims), he called himself, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" . Named after a modest, British flower, this person organized a band...more

To start let me quote the book blurb. "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 F...more

Odd's Fish ! Is this book an action adventure, a romance, historical fiction?
Baroness Orczy has provided us with all that.
Tis a fun romp, I say.
Had I known how much of this story was romance, I might not have read it but then I would have missed out on how good an all round story it...more

Rick Flair talks about The Scarlet Pimpernel.

WHOOOOOOOAAAAA!

LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHIN, BROTHER, THIS IS ONE BAD MAMMA JAMMA OF A BOOK, YOU KNOW WHAT I’M SAYIN??

Let me step it down a notch for you literary librarian types and let me pose a question: was the Scarlet Pimpernel the first masked superhero? I mean I’m thinkin about Batman,...more

Okay, I read this for exactly two reasons: one, I thought this book was on The List (it's not); and two, the Scarlet Pimpernel is the inspiration for the Bruce Wayne/Batman dichotomy and I am a giant dork.

For a book about a secret team of English nobleman working to rescue French nobles from the...more

I've always had a thing for books that use the Scarlet Pimpernel trope: the intelligent, capable person who hides behind a mask of inanity. So Emma Orczy gets extra points from me for popularizing this secret identity plot device in her 1905 book The Scarlet Pimpernel.

It's 1792, the early days of the French Re...more

★★★★★★★★★☆[9/10]

Ah, classic.
How I had always imagined that the classics are only for those who are born, brought up, spoon-fed in and potty-trained in English and how wrong was I to think that they are out of the reach of people like me who had only subnormal command over the English language.

Among many other popular au...more

“A surging, seething murmuring crowd, of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.”- The Scarlet Pimpernel, Baroness Orczy

It’s been too long since I last enjoyed a clas...more

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