The Scarlet Pimpernel is a classic novel that was first published in 1905 by the Hungarian Baroness, Emmuska Orczy. It's always great to read books written by women at this time because they have a different perspective from the many male authors of the time period. She was a prolific author, but this was by far her most popular work.

gif, the scarlet pimpernel, and vintage image
“They seek him here, they seek him there Those Frenchies seek him everywhere Is he in heaven or is he in hell? That demned elusive Pimpernel”

The story takes place in 1792 when French aristocrats were being executed by Madame la Guillotine after the citizens rejected hierarchy and religion. Across the English Channel, the English disapproved of the murder of aristocrats, and from that disapproval rose a vigilante called the Scarlet Pimpernel. He and his group of young men sailed to Paris to rescue those who had not yet been executed, saving men, women, and children. The English people loved and praised him, even wearing his symbol of the scarlet pimpernel in their hair and clothing.

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“He was but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love, and as soon as her light footsteps had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade there, where her tiny hand had rested last.”

The perspective of the story is that of Lady Marguerite Blakeney, known as the cleverest and most fashionable woman in England. She must choose her loyalty between her French heritage and her estranged English husband. The choice she makes would impact the fate of the Scarlet Pimpernel, a man that she and all the English admire.

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“The invigorating scent of the sea was nectar to her wearied body, the immensity of the lonely cliffs was silent and dreamlike. Her brain only remained conscious of its ceaseless, its intolerable torture of uncertainty.”

This is a great book for its themes on morality, virtue, and loyalty. The characters are constantly fighting their pride or moral code when action is required. The plot slowly becomes more and more exciting all the way to a thrilling end filled with romance, adventure, disguise, and deadly situations. Although it is also an adventure book, the overarching theme is romance. It is an interesting look at the French Revolution, right before the Reign of Terror, from the eyes of the nobility of England. The main character is a strong and clever woman in the 18th century who takes matters into her own hands, which is not all that common! I just finished reading this book, and while it's not one of my favorites, it was an easy read that I really did enjoy.