Saturday, 22 February 2014

The Scarlet Pimpernel

I have finished re-reading The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. I bought an illustrated copy of the 68th edition published in May, 1938. On the cover are gold embossed insignias of the Mary Datchett Girls' School, Camberwell, featuring a lady wearing a wimple and Cloth Workers London featuring their coat of arms, two winged creatures supporting a shield.

The novel was a prize for needlework given to Joan Eastland in July 1938.

I hope Joan enjoyed reading the book.

I first read The Scarlet Pimpernel years ago and, after watching adaptations of Baroness Orczy's famous tale,  had forgotten how the book ended.

The novel is written from the omniscient author's viewpoint and jumped from one person to another without spoiling my enjoyment although the style is so old-fashioned.

However, when I read the following, which I imagine made Joan's heart beat faster, I wondered how modern readers react to it.

"He (Percy Blakeney, The Scarlet Pimpernel) was  but a man madly, blindly, passionately in love, and as soon as her (his wife's) light footstep had died away within the house, he knelt down upon the terrace steps, and in the very madness of his love he kissed one by one the places where her small foot had trodden, and the stone balustrade there, where her tiny hand rested last."

After I read it, I could not help wondering if any man really would kiss the ground his beloved had stepped on.

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