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Topic: The Scarlet Pimpernel - Chapters 1-10

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Subject: The Scarlet Pimpernel - Chapters 1-10
Date Posted: 1/12/2009 10:36 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2008
Posts: 576
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Let's begin!

Subject: My thoughts
Date Posted: 1/13/2009 12:25 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2008
Posts: 1,899
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First of all, I must say that I really enjoyed this book.  I loved the descriptions and the "mystery" of who the SP was.  I never read this book before and  I will admit I had a hard time trying to find it.  My local library does not carry it and I tried to do an inner-district transfer but to no avail.  I finally ended up getting a copy at the high school I teach at (only one copy available, hasn;t been checked out since 2006.) 

What  I liked most about the beginning was the colorful language, descriptions and ease of the writing that Orczy used.  It could have been a very dry book, but I got the sense that it wasn't.  Marguerite, though she was labeled to be a very intelligent woman, could be so dense!  It remeinds me of some people I know.  She is very clever and witty, but a little slow on the obvious.  I liked the characters at the The Fisherman's Rest as well.  You could almost see the table as it was described, the bar, the lanterns, etc.  Very well done!

My favorite part in the first 10 chapters is the opera scene.  When Marguerite is in the box with Chauvelin.  I found this scene to be very well written.  You could read her desperation and dispear over the threats made to her brother.  This tone is repeated later in the book, but the first time was my fav.

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,930
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yay! I'm glad someone else enjoyed Scarlet Pimpernel.  I liked it a lot more than I thought I would.  It was such swashbuckling fun.  I like that Marguerite is supposed to be an intelligent, independent woman (even if she doesn't really demonstrate it in the early chapters).  Even though her life wasn't turning out the way she'd hoped, she's made a place for herself, she made herself a leader of society in a foreign country which couldn't have been easy (although lots of money always helps).  Orczy establishes Chauvelin as a really creepy, insidious villain from his first introduction.  And I thought all the 18th century slang was hilarious.

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 8:37 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I really liked the opening sequence--I thought her description of the casual violence of that time in France was really well-done. I also thought the next sequence in the inn was excellent.. The scene was set so well, with the barmaid, the pub owner, the regulars, and the description of the place--it all just came right to life. The notes in my book say this story was a play before it was a book, so maybe that's why the scenes are described so clearly.

Date Posted: 1/14/2009 9:49 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 1,438
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Last Edited on: 8/4/14 8:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 2:05 AM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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It's interesting to compare this view of the Revolution to Dickens' in A Tale of Two Cities.

Yes, I thought the same thing, with the ladies knitting next to the tumbrils--shades of Madame DeFarge. Dickens brings the horror of it a little nearer to the reader, but then, this is an adventure story, not a serious epic.

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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I've read through chapter 10 and I'm enjoying the novel. As others have noted, the scenes at the inn, the opera box scene between Marguerite and Cauvelin, and the descriptions of The Reign of Terror have been especially interesting to me.

This period of French history has always been interesting to me so I did a little research and am posting some background information on that time period.

Subject: The Reign of Terror
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 8:59 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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From wikipedia,

The Reign of Terror (5 September 1793 – 28 July 1794) or simply The Terror (French: la Terreur) was a period of violence that occurred fifteen months after the onset of the French Revolution, incited by conflict between rival political factions, the Girondins and the Jacobins, and marked by mass executions of "enemies of the revolution." Estimates vary widely as to how many were killed, with numbers ranging from 20,000 to 40,000; in many cases, records were not kept, or if they were, they are considered likely to be inaccurate. The guillotine ("National Razor") became the symbol of a string of executions: Marie-Antoinette, the Girondins Philippe Égalité and Madame Roland, as well as many others, such as "the father of modern chemistry" Antoine Lavoisier, lost their lives under its blade.



Last Edited on: 1/15/09 9:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 9:09 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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I also was not sure what the "bart" after Sir Percy's name meant (it show up a couple of times in my book). It is an abbreviation for Baronet.

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 9:28 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Just in the ten chapters I have read, it is apparent that Orczy has sympathetic feelings for the aristocrats. Here is a little background on why she has these sympathies:

As described in Gary Hoppenstand’s introduction to the novel, Baroness Emma Orczy had aristocratic roots. She was born

in 1865, and her father Baron Felix Orczy owned a large farming estate near the Tarna River in Hungary. However, when

she was three, an event occurred that forced her family to live in poverty and apparently influenced her later views against

the peasant class. The farm workers at the Orczy estate became enraged when the Baron Orczy brought in modern farm

machinery. They regarded the machinery as evil, “the work of the devil,” (xv); in rebellion, they destroyed the farm by

fire. Emma’s family immigrated to England when she was fifteen. The young girl quickly learned English and went on to

become a writer. She first published her most famous work,

The Scarlet Pimpernel, in 1903 in the form of a play. It

expressed the deep resentment she felt of the ignorance and brutality of the lower classes which she and her family had

experienced.

Date Posted: 1/15/2009 6:42 PM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2007
Posts: 116
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I'm a little behind but hope to catch up this weekend. My mother-in-law passed away last week. I'll post some thoughts soon. april
Date Posted: 1/15/2009 10:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/30/2007
Posts: 3,237
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I'm so sorry, April!

Date Posted: 1/16/2009 8:52 AM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2007
Posts: 116
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Thanks Janelle. I appreciate it! I have read the first 2 chapters this morning. With everyone enjoying the scenes at the Inn, I cannot wait to read more. Chapter 2 was at the Inn, and I found it quite entertaining.
Date Posted: 1/16/2009 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Sorry to read about the passing of your MIL April. My condolences to you and your family.

Date Posted: 1/24/2009 5:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2009
Posts: 13
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I just finished reading this today!

LOVED IT!