Friday, July 6, 2012

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

Once he was André-Louis Moreau, a lawyer raised by nobility, unconcerned with the growing discontent among France’s lower class—until his best friend is mercilessly struck down by a member of the aristocracy. Now, he is Scaramouche. Speaking out against the unjust French Government, he takes refuge with a nomadic band of acting improvisers where he assumes the role of Scaramouche The Clown—a comic figure with a very serious message... 


Genre: historical

Rating: 4/5

Challenge: European Reading Challenge

 If you think this book is going to have a linear plot like The Scarlet Pimpernel, you'd be wrong. Scaramouche is from a distinctly French perspective, with Andre-Louis actually helping with the revolution before everything goes to madness. This is more a novel about a man with a nemesis, that nemesis being Gervais de La Tour d'Azyr, the man who killed Andre-Louis' best friend and attempted to marry the woman Andre-Louis was secretly (even to himself) in love with and who debauches the woman Andre-Louis was planning on marrying. These two men dance around each other attempting to strike the death blow until the shocking twist at the end. 

Andre-Louis isn't perfect like Percy is in The Scarlet Pimpernel. He's headstrong and stubborn and refuses to see reason much of the time. He's also vain and hotheaded and fairly imperious. He's also not really concerned with the greater purpose. Yes he involves himself in politics, but not heavily. He is an actor for a while before parting company in a truly spectacular manner. He becomes a master swordsman. There seems to be nothing Andre-Louis isn't good at to the point of being ridiculous. The French Revolution is also viewed in a more sanitary light than how books like The Red Necklace and The Scarlet Pimpernel use it. The Red Necklace doesn't concern itself with the Revolution until the very end as a convenient plot point. The Scarlet Pimpernel uses the Terror as the main feature, with everyone in danger of getting guillotined. Scaramouche uses the Revolution as a political statement, with Andre-Louis standing by his support of the cause until the radicals take over. Even the aristocrats are able to escape the Terror easier than any of the other French Revolution novels I've read. Older teens may like this novel. It's not as easy to read as The Scarlet Pimpernel, but once it's gotten into, the action is fast paced enough to keep attention.

1 comment:

  1. I'm going through some older reviews posted to the ERC page. This book appeals to me -- I'll keep an eye out for a copy.

    Sorry, I have lost track of whether you finished the European Reading Challenge or not. There is a Wrap Up page available, so if you do a wrap up post, please add your link on the page.