Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

“The Scarlet Pimpernel, Mademoiselle,” he said at last “is the name of a humble English wayside flower; but it is also the name chosen to hide the identity of the best and bravest man in all the world, so that he may better succeed in accomplishing the noble task he has set himself to do.”

While the French Revolution rages across the channel, the people of England are buzzing about a new hero. No one knows the true identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, but all admire him. Lady Blakeney is no exception. Her husband, however, is a far cry from this dashing subject of legend. Foppish and dull, Sir Percy is a leader of fashion, but of little else. When her brother’s life is in danger, Lady Blakeney is forced to make a difficult choice. Will her decision bring both the men she loves to the guillotine?

I hope all of you have already read The Scarlet Pimpernel because you’ve been missing out if you haven’t. This is my absolute favorite classic. It is also the easiest to read classic I’ve discovered. The beginning is a bit confusing the first time through, but stick with it and you’ll find it well worth your while. In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend it. πŸ˜‰

Author: Baroness Emmuska Orczy
Audience: All Ages
Genre: Classic Adventure
Pages: 273
Publisher: Dalmatian Press (and many others)
Read It For Free

What is your favorite scene from this book? What other French Revolution stories have you enjoyed?

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26 Replies to “Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel”

  1. I love this book! It’s one of those wonderful classics that one can read over and over again. Although it’s been a number of years since I last devoured it, so now you are reminding me that I ought to re-read it. πŸ˜€ Some other French Revolution stories I’ve enjoyed would include A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens of course), and In the Reign of Terror (G.A. Henty).
    Another book that I LOVE that is written in much the same style is The Prisoner of Zelda. You should write a book review on that, Leah! (Unless you already have??) Those who haven’t read it (and its sequel) are missing out! πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, The Scarlet Pimpernel is a fantastic re-read. I’ve read it at least five times.

      And you’re right, I should review The Prisoner of Zelda. I haven’t done that one yet. Maybe next Friday or the Friday after. Thanks for the suggestion.

      1. I just realized I made a typo–I meant The Prisoner of Zenda, not Zelda. πŸ˜€ Not sure why I didn’t catch that!! And you’re welcome for the suggestion, but I’m really just returning the favor, as it was you who introduced me to that book in the first place. πŸ˜‰

  2. I have to admit that I am blessed to have 2 children who love to read! Would probably never have read this book (and many others) except for you and Jonathan. And I agree, this one not to miss. πŸ™‚

  3. Yes! I love this story. It’s one of my favorite classics as well. Along with The Scarlet Pimpernel the movie, starring Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews (one of the few book-to-movie adaptations that I really like).

  4. Ah… the French Revolution. It seems to be a time period that so exudes pathos, authors just can’t keep their pens from it. I can list at least four titles off the top of my head about this period… And they’re all good! No, good is SO over used, let’s say stirring, compeling and intriguing! πŸ™‚ I’m itching to get my fingers on “Tale of Two Cities” since I love “Oliver Twist”.
    What an author Dickens was – I think his 200th birthday was earlier this year, wasn’t it?

    (Speaking of great, classic authors, has anyone here actually read the whole novel “Les Miserables”? I’m about a third of the way through it; and though I think I’ll have to read it at least a dozen times before I really understand what the author is implying sometimes, it is impressive writing. I know this will make my post exceptionally long, but here is one of my favorite exerpts from this book – so far!
    “One hundred years — that is young for a church and old for a house.
    It seems that man’s abode partakes of his own brief existence, and
    God’s abode of His eternal life.”
    Wow! I wish I could write like that…)

    But I digress. My favorite scene in the “Scarlet Pimpernel”? Hmmm… probably right towards the end where the elusive hero come face to face with his cunning enemy – wholly unintentionally on either part – and the authoress “spices up” the scene with a marvelous escape; and the last scene when Lady Blakeney frees the “old Jew” whom the soldiers had “trussed up like a rat,” and makes quite a discovery. (Anyone who’s read this book should know what I’m talking about, and if you haven’t or don’t, than it should be a little incentive for you to make a trip to the library πŸ™‚ )

    “The Scarlet Pimpernel” as a movie! That could either be quite good, or really rather aweful; but I’ll definitely check it out.

    The Prisoner of Zenda? Never heard of it. But maybe I’ll give it a try… when I find the time πŸ™‚ But if we’re discussing book review options, Leah, you should definitely do “Prisoners of the Sea” by Florence Kingsley, published by Lamplighter. To use antiquited vernacular, that one’s a “regular rouser”!

    OK, this post is becoming way too long now.

    There’s so much more I could say…

    But I won’t. πŸ™‚

    1. I, for one, have not read Le Miserables, but I love the Focus on the Family Radio Theater version. Recently I enjoyed two old black and white movie versions of the story too. You are right, that is a masterful quote.

      The part where Lady Blakeney and Percy are reunited at the end is probably my favorite part. And all the confusions get set straight. It leaves me smiling no matter how many times I read it.

      Hmmm. Prisoners of the Sea. I’ll add that to my list, then. πŸ™‚

      1. Oh! Radio Theaters are perfectly smashing! (to use my dad’s expression). Our family listened to “Les Miserables” on the car ride down to North Carolina last year, and I liked it so much I promptly asked for the book, which became my next birthday present! Some parts of it can be emotionally trying though. Fantine’s story is tragic; Cosette tugs your heartstrings; Javier ignites your zeal for mercy; and Jean ValJean… evocts such a tumult of emotions – fear, fury, compassion, pride, agony, tragedy, victory, joy. I don’t doubt you would cry Leah.

        I’ll confess I was surprised how soon into the book you found out who the Scarlet Pimpernel was. I think the Baroness should have made it twice as long, and discribed more of his rescues and adventures. Just personal opinion.

        Are you adding “Prisoners of the Sea” to your reading list or posting list? πŸ™‚

        Jiminy crickets! I can’t write a short post… πŸ˜€

        1. Seeing as I cry at just about anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if I did. Jean is an awesome character.

          I was adding it to my posting list. πŸ˜‰ Need to go through by book review notebook and see if I wrote anything about it when I read it…it has been a while.

      2. A “book review notebook” what a good idea! Actually, I’ve done something similar (jotting down the info and a summary) on idex cards. I also have a “great vocab and writing ideas notebook” When I come across a word I don’t know, I look it up and write it down. Same rules apply to a exceptional piece of writing that catches my eye. Hence the quote about the church and the house by Hugo that I posted previously.
        I couldn’t resist, here’s one from “Rifles for Watie” (slightly paraphrased)
        “They had been marching for hours and Jeff was
        hungrier than a woodpecker with a headache.”
        I thought that was simply hilarious!

  5. By the way, Melody, you have a great profile picture.
    Is that a dance group you’re part of? On a random guess, are you in the middle?
    Great composition – wish I could see it bigger!

    1. Thanks, Miss Maiden-in-Waiting! πŸ™‚ Yes, the picture is of the teachers in the dance group my sisters and I are a part of. And yes, I am in the middle! (How did you know?!) If you’d like to see more of the pictures, ask Leah for my email address and I’d be happy to send you the link to the rest. Then you can see the enlarged version. πŸ˜‰

      1. I didn’t think about that option… and yes! clicking on it does make it bigger. “Melodramaticity” that’s clever – and funny!
        Your picture kind of reminds me of a song – “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes…” πŸ™‚

        You being in the middle was just an educated guess – since it’s YOUR profile picture, I just thought maybe… It looks like a wonderful group, ya’ all look like such sweet and pretty girls to know πŸ™‚ (I’ll make another random guess – you wouldn’t happen to be homeschooled, would you?)
        By the way, I’m one of Leah’s homeschool friends from the “distant lands of Massachusettes” I was going to include a profile picture so we could “meet” each other, but I’m not sure if I want a gravatar account. How does it work? Is it actually global and who gets to see it? (I’m not hyper-sensitive about it, but my mom is wary of posting lots of things on the internet.)

        Do I sense another varacious reader? “It’s been a while since I last devoured [The Scarlet Pimpernel]” ha! that made me smile.
        Is “Prisoner of Zenda” written in the same style as “In the Reign of Terror” or “The Scarlet Pimpernel”? And where, what or who is Zenda?

        This is a rather discombobulated post, and there are probably more spelling mistakes then I want to look for; so sorry and all that πŸ˜‰

        OK, this was supposed to be a SHORT post, so I’ll sign off. Roger.

        1. I think it is global (gravatar, I mean). My account came with the blog, so I never looked into it too much. Here’s the link if you want to explore it. Pretty much people see it next to your blog posts if you post on a wordpress supported blog or website (I think).

          Zenda, if I remember properly, is a castle in Ruritania. Ruritania is a fictional country. The book is sort of comparable to The Prince and the Pauper, just with a bit more adventure and romance. Melody can correct me if I got any of that wrong. It’s been a while since I read the book.

  6. Wow! you reply fast! I just posted that about two minutes ago!
    I’ll look into it, thanks.
    The book is sounding better and better – thanks for the definition.

    (There, one SHORT post accomplished :D)

    1. I do school online, so I’m forever popping in to see what’s happening. πŸ˜‰

      No problem. I guess I really do need to do a review on it now. The Prisoner of Zenda is required reading for OYAN.

      1. I hope that popping in doesn’t mean you’re avoiding your work πŸ˜‰ (or am I wrong in thinking you sometimes act like me!)
        Required reading for OYAN – huh, it must really be good then; unless it’s an example for “here, DON’T write like this.” πŸ™‚ Just teasing.

      2. This sort of reminds me of instant messaging, but on a blog instead of a phone – it’s getting pretty funny!

      3. The Scarlet Pimpernel’s Rescue schedule:
        “1. Save the Lady Eponine and her children from the French murderers *check*
        2. Redeem and expand my reputation and popularity among homeschoolers *check* ”
        Ha ha!

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