I had never read The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, but recently did so at the recommendation of my friend, Joyce DiPastena. It is set during revolutionary France and is a compelling read from the very first sentence. And, as a teaser, here is the first sentence: “A surging, seething, murmuring crowd of beings that are human only in name, for to the eye and ear they seem naught but savage creatures, animated by vile passions and by the lust of vengeance and of hate.”
Since this book is a classic, there are a few differences between it and contemporary novels. The publisher made full use of the paper with only quarter inch to eighth of an inch margins. The type is small (think scripture-sized font) possibly size 10.
The novel is written with a European flare and spelling, and there are occasional words that were spelled differently back then—today, for instance is spelled to-day, realize is spelled realise, and for me, there is a general overuse of commas that is sometimes confusing.
All in all, it was an enjoyable read and all I could think about is what was going to happen next. While I was making dinner, I had to check on poor Marguerite and see exactly how she was doing for a page or two until the timer chimed. While writing my own novel, Marguerite’s awful dilemma ticked at the back of my head until I took a break from writing to see if she would survive her latest ordeal.
It’s not that I didn’t guess what was going to happen before it did, because I did guess correctly more often than not. However, with a good novel the joy is in the journey. And as long as you’re reading, there’s still the uncertainty of how they (the main characters) will arrive to the end of their story.
Unfortunately, I must dare to admit right here that I was slightly disappointed in the last chapter. The baroness had gone into great detail showing us Marguerite’s emotions and motivations throughout the novel, until this last chapter where it is all wrapped up neatly in narrative that seems to say, “That’s all folks!” And, having enjoyed the novel immensely until then, was definitely not ready for a summarized ending.