The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy
(from the back of the book)
It is 1792 and France is in the grip of a seething, bloody revolution. Mobs roam the Paris streets hunting down royalists, barricades block any chance of escape, and every day hundreds die under the blade of Madame Guillotine. But in the hearts of the condemned nobility there remains one last vestige of hope: rescue by the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel. Renowned for both his unparalleled bravery and his clever disguises, the Pimpernel’s identity remains as much a mystery to his sworn enemy, the ruthless French agent Chauvelin, as to his devoted admirer, the beautiful Lady Marguerite Blakeney.
I am a fan of the masked hero type. Zorro and Batman and the like. So you might want to take what I say with a grain of salt because I think I was predisposed to like this novel. And I did like it. There are less of the heroic adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel here than you may expect. You hear about his breathless, selfless rescues more than you actually get to see them. A lot of the book is told from the point of view of Lady Blakeney so the reader stays in England with her instead of getting to go to France with the Scarlet Pimpernel. But you still get to hear how he fools the French and does all sorts of heroic things. I think the events hold more surprises for the characters than they do for the reader but I don't think that hurts the story. Sometimes the 'I just want to be able to die beside my beloved' emotion of Lady Blakeney gets to be a bit much. And I have to admit that I was getting tired of being told that she was ever so clever, even though at times she didn't act like it. Over all I really liked it. It is fun and exciting with some suspense and romance.