Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel

by Baroness Emma Orczy
Publisher: SeaWolf Press
Trade Paperback
Price: $9.95

A nice edition with 13 illustrations from 1919 edition and the cover from the 1907 edition.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is the first novel in a series of historical fiction by Baroness Orczy, published in 1905. It was written after her stage play of the same title enjoyed a long run in London. The novel is set during the Reign of Terror following the start of the French Revolution. The title is the nom de guerre of its hero and protagonist, a chivalrous Englishman who rescues aristocrats before they are sent to the guillotine. Sir Percy Blakeney leads a double life: apparently nothing more than a wealthy fop, but in reality a formidable swordsman and a quick-thinking master of disguise and escape artist. He is known by his symbol, a simple flower, the scarlet pimpernel. Orczy's daring hero with a secret identity disguised by a meek manner proved enduring. Zorro, Doctor Syn, the Shadow, the Phantom, Superman, and Batman followed within a few decades.

The year is 1792. The French Revolution, driven to excess by its own triumph, has turned into a reign of terror. Armed with only his wits and his cunning, one man recklessly defies the French revolutionaries and rescues scores of innocent men, women and children from the deadly guillotine. His foes know him only as the Scarlet Pimpernel. But the ruthless French agent Chauvelin is sworn to discover his identity and to hunt him down.

One of our favorite novels. Sir Percy is that daring Englishman who, with his loyal band of followers, dons disguises and rescues members of the French aristocracy. When he woos and marries Marguerite, but later suspects her of betraying one such aristocrat, the process becomes a bit more complicated. Fun, swashbuckling, and romantic. . . full of close calls and some pretty memorable dialogue.

Many readers clamored for more after reading The Scarlet Pimpernel, and the Baroness Orczy graciously obliged. They're not as cleveras the first book, but here are three sequels, made available for free from Project Gutenberg:

Did you find this review helpful?