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C. P. Lesley

Bookworm, writer, radio host—I blog about history, fiction, and publishing in the Internet Age. You can find the full blog on my website. This space is for books.

The Scarlet Pimpernel - Emmuska Orczy I love this book so much that I wrote my own version, so that pretty much tells you what I think of it. Orczy's novel is typical of its time (1905) in having far more description and "telling" than a twenty-first-century reader expects. But once that reader adjusts his/her focus, s/he will find this story of a swashbuckling hero who hides behind the persona of a foppish aristocrat riveting. Batman, Superman, Zorro: all the dual-identity superheroes get their start here, with Orczy's vision. And there is a love story, too, between Sir Percy Blakeney and his befuddled wife, who learns her husband's true character as the story unfolds. I read it first when I was 14, loved it then, revisited it many years later, and was struck anew by just how good the underlying story remains.

And if you want a modern update, without all the pages of exposition, try my "Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel"!