I've blogged a couple of times recently on my own website about THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL (definitely one of the inspirations for SECRETS OF A LADY and my series about Charles and Mélanie Fraser--more on that later).

The follow-up discussion raised some interesting points about the story and how it's been adapted (the Marguerite/ Percy/Chauvelin love triangle isn't in the original book). I realized that, though I've rewatched numerous adaptations--the Leslie Howard/Merle Oberon movie, the Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour version, the Richard E. Grant/Elizabeth McGovern series, not to mention the Broadway musical, it's been years since I've read the original book. I decided it was time for a reread.

It's wonderful to return to a favorite book. Like revisiting old friends, remembering why you were such good friends with them in the first place, and perhaps at the same time seeing facets to their characters. I'd forgotten that, while you know fairly early in all the adaptations that the Scarlet Pimpernel and Percy Blakeney are one in the same, the book unfolds more as a mystery.

The Scarlet Pimpernel remains tantalizingly offstage, Percy Blakeney is a foppish, seemingly slow character, though there is a tantalizing hint early on of how much he loves Marguerite in a reference to "the curious look of intense long, of deep and hopeless passion, with which the inane and flippant Sir Percy followed the figure of his brilliant wife." You keep turning the pages to sort out the mystery and to learn more about the enigma of the Blakeneys' marriage.

When I was starting to write the book that is now SECRETS OF A LADY, I went to New York with a writer friend and saw the Broadway musical version of THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL. Sitting in the theater, I realized how much The Scarlet Pimpernel had influenced me in devising Charles and Mélanie Fraser and their world.

What has always fascinated me about THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL is its examination of a marriage that begins with deception, of the toll that deception takes, of the fear that one doesn’t know the truth about the person one loves most in the world, of the risk of trusting.

Charles and Mélanie are very different people from Percy and Marguerite but my fascination with THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL's portrait of a marriage definitely influenced me in creating Secrets of a Lady and other stories about them. Not to mention the appeal of intrigue and adventure and heroes who outwit their enemies through their own cleverness.

Is THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL a favorite of yours? Did you find the book first or a film version? Do you have a favorite film adaptation of it? Are there other favorite books you’ve enjoyed revisiting recently?

Tracy Grant

7 Comments:

Blogger Kathryn S said:

I loooove the Scarlet Pimpernel with Anthony Andrews. I remember seeing that as a kid and thinking he was just amazing. You've got me intrigued now, Tracy! :-)

K

12:21 PM  

Anonymous Tracy Grant said:

I love that version too, Kathryn! It first aired when I was in high school. We didn't have a vcr yet, and I had a rehearsal that night, so my mom tape recorded it for me. I think I knew every line of dialogue by heart before it aired again, and I finally got to see it. I now have a video I watch all the time (and was thinking I should look for a dvd...)

12:36 PM  

Blogger Kathryn S said:

Sink me! What a great mom, Tracy! Ohh, if you find it on DVD let me know, will you?

They seek him here
They seek him there... ;-)

Kathryn

12:51 PM  

Anonymous Tracy Grant said:

My mom was super :-).

Just checked, and the Andrews/Seymour Scarlet Pimpernel is availalbe on DVD from both Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com. Just search under "Scarlet Pimpernel".

Cheers,
Tracy

2:42 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Most definitely, "The Scarlet Pimpernel" is a favorite of mine. Sir Percy is to me what Mr. Darcy is to so many others. My ideal hero.

Favorite version: Anthony Andrews/Jane Seymour. They need to do a big-screen remake, preferably combining the original novel with "Eldorado", but I am hard pressed to find an actor who could play Percy as well as Andrews did.

5:06 PM  

Anonymous Tracy Grant said:

Thanks for posting! Over all the Andrews/Seymour version is my favorite too. Rereading the book, I'm amazed at how much of "The Scarlet Pimpernel" novel is in the sceenplay (quite a bit of actual dialogue) and how seemlessly it's combined with "Eldorado". I also think it does a great job of taking the hints in the book about Marguerite and Percy's courtship and early marriage and dramatizing them (it's a great screenplay, by William Bast, I think). I'd love to see a big screen version based on TSP and "Eldorado" but I too would be hard-pressed to cast it. Anyone else have thoughts on casting?

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