Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy

Hi friends,
Im not a professional book critic. But I just wanted to share this awesome book with you. The Scarlet pimpernal. Those who are from X std Matriculation board of Tamil Nadu wud have already read this story. The time in the story is 18th century England and the story moves across English Channel.

The social life in England, more specifically in London at that time was clearly put in words such that you can easily imagine it. French Revolution was at its peak and aristocrats were being continuously caught and guillotined. The Frenchies didnt consider children and noble aristocrats also. Im neither a capitalist nor a communist or a revolutionist. I strive to be a humanist which leads me to think that nobles should be spared. Thats what the Hero of this story achieves. Dover, in England and Calais, in France are two towns from where you can reach the other country in the shortest span of time and distance. These two towns play a major role in this story. It is after reading this story, I started liking England, its social culture and manners, gallantry etc. I started liking beaches, sea and oceans after reading this. To put simply, this book taught me how to imagine.

The way how lives of the characters in the novel, were entangled to sea, was clearly and poetically made out in this story. Those who love sea and massive water bodies, this book is a must-read.

Precis:


1792
France-French Revolution-Guillotine-People take up the Government-kills the King of France-Kills all aristocratic people-some citizens supports and some accuses newly formed Republican Govt.

England-London-Still a  Monarchy-accuses France for killing nobles

The Scarlet Pimpernal-English way side flower-also a name chosen to hide the identity of the daring plotter-certainly an English man-helped by a band of 19 followers to obey-who saves the French nobles under the very noses of notorious French Government officials and brings them to England-Law of England supports and saves the Exiles-peace to them in here.

Scene 1 - Comtesse De Tournay (mother), Suzanne(daughter), Vicomte De Tournay(son), escapes the Paris gates under cover in a cart driven by the Scarlet pimpernal himself-rescued safely to Dover-the nearest coastal point in England from France across the English channel-obviously the Scarlet pimpernal does not reveal himself to any one other than the 19 followers.

Scene 2-Fisherman's rest-an inn on the coast of Dover-where the poor aristos were to be welcomed to England formally-by their saviours. Lord Antony arrives to Fisherman's rest-gives orders to prepare dinner for them and stays there-the trio arrives accompanied by Sir Andrew-Chemistry between Sir Andrew and Suzanne-Thanksgiving and wine-Two strangers at the inn plans an attack on Sir Andrew and Lord Antony-Obviously, members of the league.

Sir Percy Blakeney-a Dandy in the London society-very rich-dull with empty laughs-often sarcastically teased by the people for such dullness-brought to his English home-a young and fashionable actress from across the English channel-after wooing for one year-and got estranged from her immediately after 24 years of marriage-reason being her part in sending to guillotine, of Marquis De St Cyr, an aristo in France-unacceptable act to an Englishman raised in that social conditions-Though estranged-used to live together-Percy doing full gallantry to her-which is mocked by her.

Scene 3-Marguerite enters Fisherman's Rest with Sir Percy on the same evening-to send her brother Armand, back to France to attend his duty to the Republican Govt-Comtesse De Tournay treats her as an enemy-for the same Marquis guillotine-reproaches her on the face-Suzanne, Margeurite's classmate eases the tension in the coffee room of that old seaside inn-kisses Marguerite and follows her mother to their rooms.

Scene 4-Marguerite bids farewell to Armand-meets Chauvelin-newly appointed by France for spying and identifying Scarlet Pimpernal-asks Marguerite for help-Marguerite rejects-recognizes the hero's good deeds-sighs- and leaves to Richmond-her English home of her dull husband-At Fisherman's Rest- Antony and Andrew were left in silence for the night-attacked by Chauvelin-one of the strangers at the inn-seized some papers and found some secrets-Chauvelin satisfied-new hold on Marguerite to force her to do the work of spying-which she refused previously.

Scene 5- Opera House-Percy and Marguerite arrives-Chauvelin already there-found chance to speak to Marguerite and blackmail her to do the spying-with Armand's life as the prize-he being found as the memeber of the league of the Scarlet Pimpernal-as evidenced by the papers seized from the two young men back at Fisheman's Rest-Marguerite having no other option agrees-to save her dear brother.

Scene 6-Greenville's Ball-Marguerite steels the note from Sir Andrew's hand-which he was tyring to burn- and finally finds a fine note signed by the Scarlet Pimpernal- gives the clue to Chauvelin-that Scarlet Pimpernal will be at the supper room at one'o clock exactly at the ball house. Chauvelin promises Marguerite that the day Scarlet Pimpernal and Chauvelin are on France-Armand's note, which served as the evidence against him will be returned to Marguerite-Marguerite came to know by a messenger that there were no one in the supper room at the said time other than Chauvelin and the poor and dull Sir Percy-Marguerite again worried-on Chauvelin's failure to find the daring plotter-worries about Armand-returns to Richmond.

Scene 7-Richmond-Home of Sir Percy- midnite reaching-Garden-Moonlite-Thames-Marguerite tries to ask Sir Percy for help-in this crisis situation to save Armand-Sir Percy promises to save-Marguerite wants to thank him-he rejects-unbending Percy-Marguerite tries hard to win him back-but fails for the nite-goes to sleep with a weary heart-almost 5 in the morning then.

Scene 8-Sir Percy leaves a note in the early morning to his Lady that he is leaving for the North-Margerite wonders why so suddenly-meets him before he leaves-finds that he is going for saving Armand-Deep understanding glances-blooming Love once again-Marguerite happy once again for the confidence imbibed in her that she has chances to win him back-goes back to sleep after bidding farewell to her husband.

Scene 9-Marguerite wakes up-waits for Suzanne-her guest for the day-Scout comes and gives the note of Armand-which confirms Marguerite that the Scarlet Pimpernal is identified and he is on his way to France-Sir Percy's coachman answers Marguerite that he left Sir Percy at London Bridge-Marguerite suspicious-Why Percy leaves to London-Having this suspicion she enters Sir Percy's private room which she never ever entered-finds it intriguing-with maps of Paris and North coast of France-wonders why the hell - finds a gold ring with the symbol of the little star-shaped English way side flower inscribed on it.

Scene 10-Everything now got clear before Marguerite-Sir Percy is the Scarlet Pimpernal-He left to save Armand-Not knowing that his own beautiful wife betrayed him.

What happens to the Hero, Sir Percy and Armand, Marguerite's loving brother? What happens to our poor and beautiful Marguerite? What does Chauvelin do to Percy? Did the Daring Plotter succeed in his errand?

Read the book.
Listen to Audiobook


Thanks and happy reading.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A world of Books and a company of words

It started when I was studying third standard in Thirukkovilur.

It was a friday evening, in the year 1993 (I dont remember the month).  I dropped my overweighing school bag in one corner and rushed to get rid of the uniform thing.   My mom was busy in the kitchen making coffee.  The aroma of the coffee always reminds me that everything is OK at home and it sort of rejunuvates the tiresome typical school boy in me.

It was a melancholy evening for me, though the following Saturday and Sunday are holidays. I thought "Oh! wat to do with my time in hand? I have no homework to do, no exams approaching, I have two days holdiay, Tomorrow I will go and play hide n seek in the temple backyard, Sunday, I will watch TV and play cricket....All set for two days...But what exactly should I do now? Ok, will try something new..."  and Suddenly my English Text book fell in my view... A week back my English teacher had read us a story from that book. I found it interesting at that time. I was keenly listening. Even as a child, I remember myself as a moody and reserved kind of a schoolboy. But inside I always looked for something interesting to wonder upon.

Soothingly warm steam from the coffee with its aroma relaxed me and I was just reading the story which my teacher read to our class. The story was about an adventurous boy who goes on a tour with his uncle and cousin, accidentally finds treasure box from a haunted house after escaping various dangers.
Exactly that was the time when my mind got haunted by haunted things.

From then on, whenever I felt boredom, loneliness, sad, happy, or whatever feeling which can occur to an 8 year old friendless moody kid, I started reading stories which are in some way either adventurous or ghostly. Every bit of spare time I got, I entered into this imaginary world built of books.  Sitting in one place in my room, I travelled to Arabia alongwith Sindbad, got shipwrecked with him and brought back treasures to home, Went to wonderland with Alice, Played the prince in Cinderella and Sleeping beauty, acted the invisible friend to Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and lots more... I also picked up my classmate girls as cinderella, snow white or Rebecca Thatcher... No they didnt know till date that I picked them up as my heroines in my imaginations.... All these I did, sitting in a corner.... I enjoyed that fantasy. These characters soothed my friendless soul. I started building a dreamworld with these characters.

And till today it continues... Very recently, I read The Scarlet Pimpernal.... And it continues to be my all time favourite...You know what... Sometimes I try to imitate Percy Blakeney but only when Im alone. Otherwise I dont want to lose my self. Sometimes I even thought, what if I became a split personality. But I believe nothing happened as yet. Now, I dont want to miss the theme. I enjoyed so much these books and the wor(l)ds in it that I became addicted to them.

Once when I was sitting with Sherlock Holmes in the Baker Street, London in the year 2009, my friend suddenly woke me up. "Oh! It was just a dream good God", I said to myself.

Whenever I find that there is no interesting books around, I started writing. Writing reduced my stress, brough me down and made corrections when I was too much flying high, and brought me up when I was drowning deep. When writing, I started to write for me and only me. The words proved to be best companions when lonely. Most of the times I dont know what to write, but still I write about the vagueness of my mind. After writing I feel like the burden shifted to the paper from my drooping shoulders. Days passed in the company of words and books. Paper became my dumb companion, Words became my wise friend and books my world!!!  This world of books is so virtual that the real pain also seemed to be virtual. What is more interesting is that the real world itself started seeming virtual.

Days rolled on like that and lately, I started picturizing myself as a charecter in this book world. I started observing myself very keenly, standing outside of me, like an author studying his prospective characters from real life. I started thinking my day-to-day events as pages in a Book. It felt like I was not living my life but just filling the pages in my lifebook. Allowing God to make a novel with me the protagonist. It passed thru various chapters say thriller, romantic love story and comedy.


I am loving it too. With the very thought that its just happening in a story written by the Greatest author, life moves on.... It will....