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I don't review books I don't like!

*****= An all-time favorite
****  = Outstanding
***    = Above average
**      = Enjoyable
*        = Good, with reservations

****The Elusive Pimpernel

by Baroness Orczy

Reviewed March 9, 2002.
A. L. Burt Company, 1908.  344 pages.

I’ve already reviewed The Scarlet Pimpernel in an earlier issue of Sonderbooks.  Reading The Laughing Cavalier, also by Baroness Orczy, got me in the mood to take up these books again.

I first read The Scarlet Pimpernel in high school and loved it.  Years later, I found four more books about the Scarlet Pimpernel in a used bookstore.  This is one of them, I believe the second book Baroness Orczy wrote about her dashing hero.

The good news is that now a company called Buccaneer Books has brought many of the Scarlet Pimpernel books back into print, available on  A couple of years ago, I bought five of them, and then never got around to reading them.  (They don’t have a due date!)  I’ve decided that at last the time has come, but first I wanted to reread the first two books, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and The Elusive Pimpernel.

I do admit that The Elusive Pimpernel isn’t as good as the first book.  The build-up to the moment of danger is a bit slow, and the final clever triumph of the Scarlet Pimpernel relies just slightly too much on luck.  However, like all of the Pimpernel books, this one is good, clean, swashbuckling fun.  Yes, it’s old-fashioned in style, it’s perhaps sentimental and wordy.  However, it’s a good story.  Like all of the books, our hero triumphs against impossible odds, and it’s fun to see how cleverly he will extricate himself this time.  As an added bonus, you’ll learn bits of history about the French Revolution.  I hadn’t realized that the Revolution attacked the Church as well as the Aristocracy.  In this book, an old and kind Abbe is in danger of death by guillotine.

If these books sound interesting to you, definitely try to get a copy of The Scarlet Pimpernel first.  In the first book, the identity of the enigmatic hero is a secret, and part of the fun is discovering who he is.  I’m going to try not to give this away as I review the rest of the series.  If you like the first book as much as I do, then I won’t have to convince you to look for any sequel you can get your hands on.

Copyright © 2003 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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