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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations


*****The Scarlet Pimpernel

by Baroness Orczy

Reviewed October 24, 2001.
A Sonderbooks' Best Book of 2002 (#4, Fiction Rereads)
Available at Sembach Library (JF ORC)

I believe it was my friend Ruth who first introduced this book to me when we were in high school.  Thanks a million, Ruth!  This is the story of a daring and brilliant Englishman who cleverly rescues French aristocrats from the guillotine and into England during the time of the French Revolution.  He is a master of disguise, and all of London society, not to mention the French Revolutionaries, wants to find out his identity.

The plot is brilliant and the romance is delightful.  If possible, read the book before you watch the movie, to see if the Scarlet Pimpernel can fool you as well as everyone else.  The Sembach Library does not have a copy of the book, but we do have two different movie versions.  (*Note:  We later did get the book!)  I strongly recommend the older one, starring Jane Seymour, which catches the flavor of the book.  In the other more recent movie version, the Scarlet Pimpernel merely hacks his way out of the French prisons.  They also throw a little gratuitous nudity, sex and violence into what was a beautifully clean story.  (A story about the French Revolution that isn’t violent?  Somehow, she pulls this off.)  In the book and the earlier movie, he uses his cleverness and his excellent disguises.  (The viewer does know his true identity earlier than in the book, however.)

The copyright on the original book has expired, so there are several different publishers with a version in print, last I checked.  The Baroness Orczy also wrote numerous sequels.  I got several years ago at a used bookstore, and recently ordered a few more from  They looked like print-on-demand technology--I’m simply thrilled to get a chance to read them.  (I’m afraid they are still sitting on my dresser while I’m reading Library books that have a due date!)

Ruth tells me that now they’ve made a musical out of the story.  Some day. . . .

An Anonymous Reader Comment:  I loved this book, and the Scarlet Pimpernel reminds me so much of the guy I am crushin on!  (She gives the book 5 Stars.)


Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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