Monday, 24 June 2013

THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL- Baroness Orczy, 1905

Years ago I had a huge crush on Anthony Andrews, a ‘posh’ British actor who made his name with an exemplary performance as Sebastian Flyte in the Granada production of Brideshead Revisited.
An adaptation of The Scarlet Pimpernel was one of his follow-ups, hardly as successful but much loved by me, nevertheless.
I was expecting the novel to bear little resemblance to the TV version, but it is very similar.
This is a rip-roaring story, crossing the Channel during The French Revolution, just like a Tale of Two Cities. Although lacking the genius of Dickens’ novel, this is still a fast-paced and well-executed drama.

The ‘Pimpernel’ disguises his abilities behind a mask of insipidity. I don’t think the reveal would come as a surprise to any reader and I almost wanted to shake Marguerite for not realising it sooner. The cleverest parts of the novel are the disguises themselves and how the ‘League of the Scarlet Pimpernel’ gets away with so many rescues.

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