The book Club – The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Welcome back to the virtual book club at Book Allowance! My partner in crime, Rebeca Barroso, is back and we’re going old-school. This time we’ll be discussing “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Orzcy. Just remember there will be spoilers.

Wit? I Don’t See Any Stinking Wit.

by Rebeca Barroso
Dearest Princesse,

I agree absolutely with the fact that there has to be some conflict to establish plot and actually write a book. Take my arm and walk with me to the lovely greenhouse for some tea… but I tend to have a problem with general stupidity as the source and origin of conflict, as it irks me so… especially one born out of someone the author keeps reminding us is THE sharpest wit in Europe more often than she points out to us of the Olympic timing of the events she narrates down to the photo-finish millisecond.

I would like to playfully reach out to you and tap you with my own ivory fan, (tsk tsk) whilst I disagree about supporting Marguerite in her quest to save her husband. Odd’s fish! You already proved to us all (and yourself, dear Margot) that you’re a twat. And now your twatness pretendeth to be smarter than Sir Percy, who has proved all around to be above and beyond resourceful, elusive, and bright? La! Have a little faith in the Pimpernel, m’dear!

But, sit, sit… Tea is ready. I kept wondering how exactly she pretended to be of any use to anyone walking without shoes in the mud alongside the cart towards the cliff. Do you take milk or honey with your tea, m’dear? As I read the long and tortuous meandering towards the cabin to entrap the Pimpernel and the refugees, I couldn’t remember what was going to happen next, but it was clear to me that the only danger the Pimpernel would face in this scenario (having found out Chauvelin in priest’s clothes back at the inn already) would be when he had to come over and retrieve the sharpest wit in Europe from entrenching herself deeper and deeper in a hopeless situation thanks to her own folly and lack of judgement… which seems to me lasted exactly 38 hours, 24 minutes, 30 seconds and a demmed good pair of shoes worn to the soles. Pity that. They were such modern shoes. Sugar?

I hadn’t thought about it, but, as I take a modest sip from my delicate porcelain cup of tea and bite a bit of my crumpet, I do believe you’re right when you say rom-coms possibly can be traced to writing such as this. Though I think I’d place it even farther back with Austen, who I think really perfected the romantic comedies. I love Austen better because she’s adept at intertwining several plots at once (Orczy only has a half-developed parallel romance with Sir Andrew and the young girl, what’s-her-name going on at the same time) which entertain me to no end. And then there is class conflict, which is much more interesting to overcome because it’s seemingly much more insurmountable than stupidity conflict. Though… now that I think about it, whilst I fan myself and glance at my lush garden and the fountains… there is something to be said about the lack of evolution in some of the women we’ve read so far and the permanence and insurmountability of their stupidity… but I digress. Austen can possibly be the beginning of chick lit, though hers is quite above the quality of chick lit today. I think we both read Chasing Harry Winston and rolled our eyes more or less in harmony… did we not?

Having said that, let’s see how a modern woman writer deals with mystery in this day and age. Can’t wait to get started on Her Fearful Symmetry!

À tout à l’heure!

Duchesse de Midwest

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