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The Scarlet Pimpernel was awful.
The first chapter was wonderful. It should have ended as a short story. Done! because it pretty much goes downhill from there.
The protagonist is not the Scarlet Pimpernel, rather it's his wife, Lady Blakeney. She's supposedly the smartest woman ever. After all, Baroness Orczy tells us this no less than 23 times. She spends the entire book pining after her dh.
The book should be called The Pining Lady Blakeney
It is not so action packed and swashbuckling as you are led to believe. The man behind the SP disguise is revealed early in the book so there is no surprise ending. There is strong anti-Semitism in it which I knew about, but tried to ignore. Awful.
It's classic pap and I am just happy to be done.
Last Edited on: 4/26/10 11:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
I so totally agree. If Lady Blakeney was the cleverest woman in Europe, then women were really, really stupid in the 1780's.
After I read it, I realized it's not really a classic - it's just a piece of Edwardian pulp fiction that sounds like a classic because of its setting and the fact that 'Scarlet Pimpernel' is still a cultural meme.
Last Edited on: 4/22/10 10:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
IIRC the pepper scene was when the Scarlet Pimpernel put the pepper in Chauvelin's snuff box and set Chauvelin to sneezing while SP gets away before the soldiers arrive.
I liked the book for reasons previously mentioned, silly but fun. We read this together on the board a year or two ago. While reading the book I did a bit of research on Orczy and found some interesting history:
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