Monday, 23 April 2012

A Little More Conversation

I must apologize, this month has been a bit hectic.  I really can't believe that the end of April is just around the corner!  You would think with me having recently had my spring break that I would have had some down time, but that just doesn't seem to be in the cards right now.  Pile on that this weekend I have been very sick, it has not been the best of months.  So, I didn't finish the book.  I got 62% of it read (thank you kindle for your accuracy).  However I have seen the musical and know the basic storyline.

The first chapter took my breath away.  It was so descriptive and poetic.  It made the guillotine seem like a character unto itself.  I became excited and enthralled immediately.  However, at its conclusion when I found that the style did not continue into the rest of the book I had a hard time picking it up again.  Once the Blakeneys made their entrance it became much more engaging.  The scene in the garden where Margarete finally tells Percy that her brother is in trouble is beautiful and I sat on pins and needles with the "whole will they won't they" dilema.

I am not really sure how to start things off.  I really could go on for a while on themes and analysis, but I don't want to bore you and make this post way too long.  While reading a couple of themes really stood out to me in the book;  duality and trust.  Our hero and female ingénue both suffer from duality, but in reverse aspects (which I find fascinating).  Percy is seen as an imbecile (I loved all the different conjugations of the adjective in the book :) ) in public.  His mask is one of innocence and obliviousness.  It makes me wonder when this mask was put in place in his life, when did he realize that it would be useful.  It does seem to give himself some freedom.  No one suspects him, who is the likeliest culprit due to his finances and bred "intelligence" of the upper-class (Oo, another theme, class).  How could they suspect him?  He is a foppish idiot who serves as the court jester.  Then there is Marguerite.  I debated as to whether or not I should call her an ingénue and then decided that is her true self.  She is seen by the "world" as a strong opinionated woman. It is often remarked that she is too witty to have married such an moron of a husband.  This is the exact opposite of an ingénue, but when the author gives us her private thoughts or her conversations with her brother, I think the title fits.  She is smart and witty, but easily makes mistakes and is beguiled by others and her own narrow perceptions.  She of all people should have realized Percy's true self.  I wanted to scream at her when she would remark on how much he had changed from courtship to marriage.  She said remarked that Percy was a strong, loving, intelligent man and then became and annoying, distant, idiot after their wedding.  Such a shift, at least to me the reader, seemed like a tell tale sign that something was amiss.  However, just like Percy's mask, hers gives her more freedom.  In a world where women are seen as ornaments, her forthrightness actually give her more freedom and influence.

This leads me to me second theme, trust.  Marguerite trusted Chauvelin, at first, merely because they were countrymen (a sign of her naiveté).  He bamboozled (oh how I love that word) her with it to get her attention and then thrust the dagger of betrayal into her bosom and twisted it with the desire to entrap her brother and husband (what a dramatic sentence! haha).  Then there is the lack of trust between Percy and Marguerite.  How different the book would have been if the two of them had sat down and had an open conversation instead of letting their pride get in the way.  Although I find that to be the case in many stories, if people used the lines of communication we never would have a story or it would be vastly different due to less conflict.  What does that teach us?  :)

The other thing I wanted to mention was the scarlet pimpernel itself.  I did a little "research" and found that it is a weed that has a tiny flower.  I like the idea that one man (the tiny flower) could "spread" across France to "choke" out the wicked.  The allusion that Orczy uses is, to my mind, rather effective.

I hope I didn't bore anyone or that this didn't get too long.  I had so much fun analyzing what I read of the book.  It reminded me of college and my English major days.  I kind of miss those.  :)  What are your thoughts?


  1. Wonderfully done my dear!

    I say you really must finish the story!

    I agree with you in that the first chapter grabbed me right away, and then I really struggled with the next 2 or 3... but when the Blackeney's joined in it sped up, and then I just had to keep reading! It got so exciting! (That also might be because I was reading the exciting bits in a plane with a LOT of turbulence.)

    But I simply fell in love with Percy.
    I loved your comment on the duality of the main characters. My book had questions at the end and one dealt with that. It said: "The motif of a hero whose everyday self is ordinary, but whose secret self is heroic and masterful, is very common - consider Clark Kent and Superman. Which other characters from popular culture are like the Scarlet Pimpernel in this way?"

    That really got me thinking about all my favorite cartoons and super heroes. Maybe that is why I love Percy, because he has this Clark Kent/Bruce Wayne/Tony Stark dynamic character. He is one of the original Super Heroes!

    I hadn't thought much on Margot, but I agree with your thoughts on her.

    I really enjoyed the book and hope others did as well! (At some point I will probably read a couple of the sequels!)

    1. If you can believe anything on wikipedia, they said he was the precursor masked heroes. Clark Kent seems like an easy parallel to draw. C.K. always seemed clumsy and silly to me, although still charming (especially to all females with the initials LL). Percy seems to take it a bit more to the extreme though. He really seems like a buffoon and his counter self much more thrilling. Although he would have to exhibit some charm for Marguerite to still hold on to the relationship. Or maybe she is holding out for the man she married and her love for him then was much more than she even realized.

  2. Oh, you must finish it! It has an amazing ending. This is one of my favorite books, ever. I even bought all the sequels in an omnibus.
    I admit I've never thought much about themes. I just loved the book and Percy and foolish Marguerite and watching how the Pimpernel outwits his enemies when all seems hopeless. I do love a smart man.
    The scene in the garden is one of my favs.

    1. I intend to finish it. ;) I do love a smart man too. He seems so romantic and dashing. Every girl needs a little dashing in their lives.

  3. I admit, I didn't get my hands on the book in time and then life took over, but you guys have really motivated me to try again!I have really enjoyed your comments.