Orczy, Baroness Emma
OK, so just one today, but this is a must read if you like historicals with a dash of romance, a lot of cunning, and close escapes. The Scarlet Pimpernel is a historical novel written by Baroness Emma Orczy. It’s first iteration was actually a play produced in 1905. The story is set during the Reign of Terror days of the French Revolution. Marguerite St. Just is living in a loveless marriage. Oh, there was love once. Her dull witted husband once fawned over her and showered her with gifts and affirmations of love, but when Marguerite unintentionally sends a marquis and his sons to the guillotine, the well of affection suddenly dried up. Now she must deal with his witless conversation, his boorish laugh and his increasingly cold shoulders. It’s almost too much for the intelligent, beautiful actress to bare! Wouldn’t life be so much better if she was married to the dashing scoundrel who, through amazing guile keeps spiriting guillotine doomed French nobles out of the country, right under the noses of their intended executioners? The one known by no other name than the Scarlet Pimpernel? The fantasy is enough to set a young lady’s heart aflutter!
I’m sure you know where this one is going, but it’s a great read nonetheless.
Baroness Orczy married the son of a clergyman and the couple, though having a very loving relationship, did not have a lot of money. She started her writing career after the birth of their first and only child, but had only mediocre success. The novel adaptation of her Percy Blackeney short stories went to twelve publishers and while it was in submissions limbo it was accepted to be adapted for the stage.
Emma’s subsequent success after the publication and wild popularity of The Scarlet Pimpernel seems to vary depending on what source you read. Some say that she was a one hit wonder, and nothing she wrote after The Scarlet Pimpernel had much success. Other sources claim that the works that spun off from the original novel continued to be hugely popular, which increased her standing as an author as well.
Whatever the case may be, The Scarlet Pimpernel is in my opinion an excellent book. The suspense will keep your butt clenched to the edge of your seat, and the tender romantic scenes will melt your heart. It’s not even a very long book, so it won’t take up a year to read either.