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jenn

Murder by Death

I read cozy and historical mysteries, a bit of Paranormal/UF, and to mix it up, I read science and gardening books on occasion.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy

The woefully small number on my "read - classics" shelf has increased by 1.  While I've always known of The Scarlet Pimpernel as a character - an English spy - that is infamous for his daring rescues of French aristocrats, I don't think I ever really knew it was a book.  I can offer up no reason or excuse for this, but thanks to my BookLikes friends, it's a lapse that has been corrected.

 

My copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel is a FOTL find from my recent vacation and the cover says it is part of the "The Best Mysteries of All Time" series.  I wouldn't call this a mystery, though.  It felt more like an early 1900's action-suspense novel to me.  As a reader, was there ever really much doubt who The Scarlet Pimpernel was?  But the intrigue, the manipulation, the threats, the warnings, the running, the escape... and the escapes!  Lots of action and lots of suspense.

 

A lot of readers point to the florid writing and I agree, it is rather less er...modern than most books I've read that were written in the same time frame.  But the story itself takes place during the French Revolution, so the writing didn't feel out of place to me and I didn't struggle at all with comprehension after the first page or so.  

 

I won't pretend that I didn't have some confusion over Marguerite - I never quite got what the author wanted me to think about her 'wittiest woman in all of Europe'.  There was a bit of bouncing between strong/weak, smart/dim, stoicism/over-wrought-female.  But this was written over 100 years ago about a time over 150 years ago.  I have no idea what women were like 150 years ago but I'm certain I'd not identify with them overmuch.

 

For me, it was the last few chapters that drove me away from a full five stars.  Could everything that happened after the scene in the 'Chat Gris' been strung out any longer?  I was beginning to feel like an over-wound spring; I found myself thinking "Oh just something HAPPEN already!! Gah!"

 

The story was great fun and I clearly see why it is still such a popular choice.  It's a true classic and even though I've heard from everyone that the sequels just don't compare to this first, I find myself tempted to hunt one down to see what happens next.