“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”
Odd’s fish! I liked this book very much indeed. The story had a simple and entertaining curve and allowed the reader to stay ahead of the protagonists. It not only made me laugh heartily but also explored the historical setting of 1792 and the political setting in France in the most digestible manner. The story is set at the start of the French Revolution where mass executions were held by the public towards the “Sacre Aristos” or the French Nobilities. The death toll ranged to about a hundred mass executions by the guillotine every day. In the midst of such terror and violence, would a band of brave Englishmen risk their lives to rescue members of the French nobility?
The story depicts the adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel and his league of nineteen other loyal Englishmen who employed all sorts of cunning, trickery and bravado to rescue scores of the French aristocrats from the fate of the guillotine’s blade. The Scarlet Pimpernel, leader of this league remains anonymous through the novel, his identity guarded faithfully by his league of followers. As the story unravels, we come to understand who the hero really is and the mask he puts forth in society to shun any suspicions. He assumes the role of a foolish fellow, described by Orczy as having “the foppish ways, the affected movements, the perpetual inane laugh” which hide his true brilliance from society.
The perfect dosage of intrigue by the hero’s anonymity and daring plots is mixed with adventure and action as the sly agent Chauvelin from the French Republican Government vows to hunt down the “demmed elusive Scarlet Pimpernel” who has managed to slip through the very nose of the republic a number of times. Along with this delightful concoction , add a dash of romance as the finest woman in Europe struggles with how barriers to loving relationships can arise from foolish ego between those who should trust and support one another. This is a story told from the perspective of Marguerite Blakeney, who struggles with questions of love, pride and heroism. The story of Scarlet Pimpernel’s heroism is coupled with a different type of heroism exhibited by a woman. If you want a simple and light read, which is entertaining, uncomplicated, relaxing and just pure fun– have a go!