The Scarlet Pimpernel Review

pimpernel pic

Title: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Author: Baroness Orczy

Pages: 317

Summary: It was the perfect instrument of death: swift, silent, and merciless. Men, women, even children bowed down before it. No face was too beautiful, no neck too tender. One fatal slice, one head rolled into a basket, one more life cut short!

All Paris was trembling in the shadow of the guillotine. No one dared defy the Terror. Until one night, out of the shadows, came a masked man on a mission of mercy–to save those condemned to die!

In London he was known as the simpering Sir Percy Blackeney, seen at the most elegant parties, devoted to fashion and gossip. It was only in France that Blackeney’s true identity was revealed–when the English dandy peeled off his white gloves, took up the sword of justice, and put in the mask of…The Scarlet Pimpernel!

Belle Rating: B+

Bookworm Rating: B

Overall Rating: B+

Target Audience: Young adults – Adults

Story Notes:

D – So, I know this is a classic and is usually read in school, but this was actually my first time reading it and I found it very enjoyable.

L – The Scarlet Pimpernel has a very good plot. Almost everything that happens during the course of the book has some effect on the story as a whole. It actual makes for a story that flows well and catches your attention.

D – It does flow very well. I also love how well Orczy writes her characters, particularly Sir Blackeney. Even though you know he is the Scarlet Pimpernel, everybody thinks he is an idiot which makes it kinda hard to think of him as a brilliant trickster after reading about him in the beginning of the book.  

L – The story is also pretty accurate with it portrayal of the attitudes between England and France during the Reign of Terror. And even though there never was someone known as the Scarlet Pimpernel in real life it’s interesting to compare it to the actual rescue attempts that occurred at the time.

D – I agree. At first I felt like I needed to have brushed up on my history in order to comprehend what was going on at the start of the book when the characters were conversing about the events going on. It also would have helped if I knew how to speak French…

L– I feel that way about a lot of classics. Ah… the days when people just assumed you knew French.

D – And here I am in the modern age and I can barely speak English. Sad, sad times. Then again I don’t have to worry about the plague…

L– I’m also a huge fan of indoor plumbing and clean water.

D – WIFI!!! Oh how would I live without you!!

Writing Style:

D – It’s very similar to that of most of the other classics, like Pride and Prejudice. I feel so sophisticated when I can read and comprehend what’s going on.

L– Baroness Orczy does have a very fun sense of humor though. It takes a bit of contextual knowledge but she is very clever with her writing.

D – Yes, I did actually find it easier to read than most classics. And I was snickering through most of the book. Some people are just so stupid ha ha ha

L– The humor is also fun because you are always in on the joke with one of the characters. It’s usually the Scarlet Pimpernel himself and it’s fun to laugh along with him as everyone else is in complete hysterics trying to figure out what is happening.

D – He is the best *sigh* you’ll just have to read the book yourself to appreciate the story Orczy was able to weave.


D – I think the one thing that frustrated me the most was that the book did not focus on the Scarlet Pimpernel’s point of view. It was about his clever, yet super dumb wife.

L– It was intended to be a love story. We also have to remember that in that time period most people wrote books from the point of view of a character that shared their gender. You can notice at some points that her writing from the different gentlemens’ points of view are a bit unrealistic for what a man would probably really think.

D – Yea, I reckon so. It would’ve been cool to have read some of the ingenious plans of escape that the Scarlet Pimpernel was able to pull off though. And yes, the love story made me all gushy inside (even though I think he deserves someone better!! Someone who would have loved him from the start!!).



L– The biggest strength of this book is the story. It is really a delightful adventure story filled with clever plans, the right amount of romance, and some pretty interesting characters.

D – I couldn’t have said it better myself. It’s got a little something for everyone.  

Final Thoughts:

L– Even if classics aren’t usually your thing I really recommend The Scarlet Pimpernel. The writing style is not as difficult as some other classics you might come across and the story is gripping enough to keep you interested through the more difficult parts.

D – As a first time reader, the hardest part for me was the beginning. And that was mostly because I didn’t fully understand what was going on. But please read this book! And stick with it! You will come to enjoy this classic. It is absolutely marvelous.

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