First published 1903
(This is the Kindle cover)
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 friends and 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.
Ok YA's out there, it's time to bone up on your classics. This is a classic? I hear you saying to yourselves. Well it is in my book. This is a wonderfully humourous book about the search for the English spy 'The Scarlet Pimpernel', who is completely upsetting the French in their revolutionary zeal.
The main character is Sir Percy Blakeney, who on the outside appears to be a complete idiot and waste of space. (I think that today we would suspect he was gay.) He has married Marguerite St Just for convenience and he is barely civil to her. The two are struggling and Marguerite is trying to accept that her married life will be a complete sham. But wait......
'They seek him here, they seek him there,
That demn'd elusive Pimpernel'
There is something mysterious going on here and Baroness Orczy takes the reader on a wild fun-filled ride trying to solve the mystery. Set amongst the guillotines of the French revolution and the drawing rooms of the British aristocracy the search for the 'elusive Pimpernel' is a thrilling mix of humour and suspense that is so much fun to read.
I first picked up The Scarlet Pimpernel when I was about 17, and I re-read it every few years just for fun. It's not a mystery to me any more, but it is just a great book to read. It's not a very long read, and it's not a difficult read, but it is fun and I highly recommend it.
Oh and for Canadians who need a novel for your ISU - this one fits the bill.