Narrator: Ralph Cosham
Published by Blackstone Audiobooks on July 1, 2007 (first published 1905)
Genres: Classic, Historical Fiction
Length: 8 hrs 20 mins
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"Who is this man, this Scarlet Pimpernel?" Each day this question grew more pressing to the rulers of the French Revolution. Only this man and his band of followers threatened their total power. Only this maddeningly elusive figure defied the vast network of fanatics, informers, and secret agents that the Revolution spread out to catch its enemies. Some said this man of many disguises, endless ruses, and infinite daring was an exiled French nobleman, returned to wreak vengeance. Others said he was an English lord, seeking sheer adventure and supreme sport in playing the most dangerous game of all. But of only one thing could those who sought him be sure. They knew all too well the symbol of his presence, the blood-red flower known as the Scarlet Pimpernel.
Listening to The Scarlet Pimpernel and the narrator says the name "Armand" and it dawns on me that the narrator is the late Ralph Cosham who narrated the Louise Penny series until he passed away. Love him!
— Carol (@carolsnotebook) May 4, 2018
I don’t usually notice who narrates the audiobooks I pick up, especially those from the library, so I didn’t realize Ralph Cosham was the narrator of The Scarlet Pimpernel, until he said “Armand,” and then I was like “oh, yeah.” His narration here was as good as I remembered. He does a wonderful job with both the British and French characters.
The Scarlet Pimpernel is just a fun adventure/romance story. The Scarlet Pimpernel is one of the first heroes with a secret identity, kind of like Batman. Sir Percy Blakeney is an English dandy, concerned with dressing well, being amusing, but not incredible bright. That’s just a disguise he’s cultivated to cover his secret identity as the Scarlet Pimpernel, the leader of a group of daring Englishmen who rescue French nobility headed toward the guillotine. But his wife doesn’t know about his secret – and ends up putting him in grave danger. But I’m sure it’s not spoiling anything to say that he escapes from the enemy’s clutches.
While Blakeney is the hero, definitely, most of the story is told from the point of view of his wife, Marguerite. She and he have a strained relationship at best, mostly because they are not terribly honest with each other. She betrays him, without knowing it’s her husband she’s betraying, and then she does all she can to save him, falling deeper in love in the process of course. She’s tough and beautiful, but perhaps not as clever as she imagines herself.
The writing is a bit melodramatic and it does lean a bit more to the romance side than the adventure though. This is definitely a good classic for people who don’t like “classics.” It’s quick paced, and while there isn’t a sword fight, there’s blackmail and spying and (a rather slow) chase scene.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: