Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “Scarlet Pimpernel”

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #6 – The Elusive Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

The Elusive Pimpernel is either the third or the fourth book in the series (I did some research, and I’ve gotten both answers). Citizen Chauvelin is back, and boy is he pissed. His star has fallen because of the Pimpernel, and he will have his revenge. He travels to England, supposedly as an ambassador, but mostly to trick Sir Percy to go to France, so that the Pimpernel can be captured and killed.

Chauvelin brings a young French actress with him, and uses her to draw in Marguerite Blakeney; Marguerite sympathizes with her fellow actress, and invites her to the Blakeney home at Richmond to entertain the Prince of Wales. Juliette de Marny, from I Will Repay, is staying with the Blakeneys, as Chauvelin well knows. He gives the actress a necklace that used to belong to Juliette’s mother, to provoke a confrontation. He succeeds, and Sir Percy agrees to a duel – which means they have to go to France, because dueling is illegal in England.

In the first book Marguerite Blakeney is described as intelligent, but she seems to keep getting herself into scrapes. For instance – Marguerite is so worried about Percy going to France, that she follows him on a forged passport. That she got from the French actress. Yeah, that’ll work out fine. So of course she gets arrested, and confined in Bolougne. Chauvelin has a brilliant plan – he wants the Pimpernel to humiliate himself and lose his honor to save his wife’s life. If he helps her escape, then the breadwinner of every house in Bolougne will be killed. Like that’s going to stop our Pimpernel. Chauvelin is outwitted once again, and the Pimpernel eludes him. Oh, he also saves some nice innocent people too.

The story once again follows the Pimpernelian formula, so it’s a good idea not to read them all in a row. But, it’s a nice light read, especially when the news out there in the world is often not so happy.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #5 – I Will Repay – Baroness Emmuska Orczy

I decided to work my way through the Scarlet Pimpernel series – this is book two. The prologue starts before the French Revolution. The young Vicomte de Marny has called out the rich (but bourgeois) Paul Deroulede, who has spoken disrespectfully (yet truthfully) about the Vicomte’s inamorata, Adele de Montcheri. The men duel, and Deroulede disarms the Vicomte. Normally that would be the end of it, but the Vicomte won’t let it go. He wants full satisfaction, and goads Deroulede into rejoining the duel. Deroulede tries to take it easier on the youth, but the fool pretty much dives onto the sword, and dies.

The Duc de Marny forces his daughter Juliette to vow to avenge the family on Deroulede. Ten years later, Citizen Deroulede is beloved by the rabble, and declared to be “not dangerous” by Marat, so he has risen high in the Revolutionary government. One day, Juliette de Marny finds herself in his neighborhood, and she incites the crowd so that she has to be saved by Deroulede. He and his family take her in, and protect her. However, she is still bound by her vow, and looks for a way to ruin Deroulede.

Deroulede is friends with Sir Percy Blakeney, who is more of a bit player in this book. Sir Percy tries to talk Deroulede out of a very dangerous undertaking, but Juliette overhears, and uses what she hears to inform on Deroulede. The Terrorists come and search the house. However, while they’re there, Juliette realizes she loves Deroulede, and tries to save him. However, they both end up on trial and condemned. Will they survive? Well, duh. The Scarlet Pimpernel comes to the rescue, in a very clever way, and all is well in the end.

Orczy telegraphs quite a bit of the story, but one doesn’t read these books for the twists. It gets a bit obvious when a very large stranger appears, and begins driving events, but that’s coming from a modern, cynical reader. The books are adventures, and the good guys always win. They’re fun, easy reads, and they are also kind of informative. There are nuggets of information about the atrocities committed by the Terrorists – it wasn’t just beheading the gentry. There was a lot more going on, and the bits of information make me want to do some research and learn more. But not until after I’ve read all the rest of the books.

Captain Tuttle’s #CBR4 Review #4 – The Scarlet Pimpernel by by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

“They seek him here, they seek him there, Those Frenchies seek him everywhere. Is he in heaven? – Is he in hell? That demmed, elusive Pimpernel.”

I’ve known that rhyme since I was a kid, when I saw the Leslie Howard movie based on this play/novel. And then in the 80s (I think) I saw the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version. I had a picture of the Scarlet Pimpernel in my head: a wee, fey, clever dandy, who was pretty decent with a sword. My vision was a bit off.

It’s 1792, France, early days of the Revolution. In England, the lovely actress Marguerite St. Just is the darling of London society, and everyone wonders why such a brilliant woman is married to the fop Percy Blakeney (ok, he’s rich and titled – I’d be fine with that). In the book, Blakeney is repeatedly described as being large – so big, that it is continually remarked upon. He’s still a dandy, impeccably dressed, with Mechlin lace at his cuffs, a laconic demeanor, and a distinctive laugh. He’s not known as a bright shining light of intelligence. Marguerite had informed on an aristocrat back in France, who had gone to the guillotine. She had a good reason, but not everyone knows that. She had fallen in love with Blakeney, but was disillusioned with his frivolity. She was also very well-known for insulting her husband in public.

BUT – Percy’s seeming inanity masks the shrewd, calculating leader of the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel: the savior of innocents from the Reign of Terror. THIS IS NOT A SPOILER – if anyone doesn’t already know this story, one still finds out within the first 50 or so pages. Percy is a bit disillusioned himself with Marguerite, because he only knows the bad side of the story of the denunciation of the Marquis de St. Cyr.

While the Blakeneys are living the grand life in London, Citizen Chauvelin appears (he’s real, although exaggerated) to blackmail Marguerite. Her brother is still in France, and apparently working with the Pimpernel. In order to save her brother, she helps Chauvelin to try to find the Pimpernel, not realizing that she’s married to him. Marguerite confides in Percy about her predicament, and he leaves quickly.  She figures out who he is, and hauls ass to France to save everyone. She travels with a member of the league, and is in a race with Chauvelin to reach Percy first.

While the writing is a bit overblown (common for the time), it is very easy to get sucked into the story.  I know I’ve been sucked in, because I have downloaded all the Pimpernel stories (I love my Kindle – sorry for the plug), and am working my way through the series. I have also started doing some research on the French Revolution. I learned a bit about it in school, but the stories give a lot more insight into what really happened.

Again, I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by saying that the Pimpernel triumphs.  That’s his job. The stories are good, old-fashioned, rip-roaring adventures, that I would recommend to anyone who wants fun story with no complications.

Post Navigation