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A Child of the Revolution by Emmuska,…

A Child of the Revolution (1932)

by Emmuska, Baroness Orczy

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As a depiction of an era, this is probably the most nuanced of Baroness Orczy's books. For the only time in the Scarlet Pimpernel series, we are meant to see that despite the excesses of the French Revolution, it was brought on by the cruelty and indifference of the royalty and aristocaracy in days before. Our hero is a young revolutionary driven not only by his own suffering but by genuine belief in the ideals for which the Republic is meant to strive, and our villain a Duke who who considers the common people of less consequence than his animals unless they happen to hold his life in their hands at the moment. There were hints that the Baroness could write such a book in the short story "The Chief's Way" in the anthology The Adventures of the Scarlet Pimpernel," but we see less of Notara's activities in that story than we do Andre Vallon's in this, and the impression given is that he may have only been involved in the storming of the chateau in a momentarry lapse.

Still, in spite of the sharper insight displayed in this book, there are some parts of the storytelling that could have been improved. I would have liked to see what Vallon was doing between the fall of the Bastille and his time in the army, in the early days of the revolution, instead of going straight from the misery of the old regime to the panic of the Terror. Secondly, it has a little too much of the Old School romance trope of the heroine and the hero being constantly at odds until suddenly they realize they are in love, and you find yourself going "When did that happen?" We don't get Vallon's point of view much after the wedding, so we can assume that he has loved the heroine the whole time and covers it over with hatred because he's afraid of rejection, but it's never quite clear when or why she falls in love with him. She hears his friends tell stories of what a great man he is, but there's no apparent change in her feelings until suddenly he's in danger and she's madly in love with him. This sudden revelation works better in the Baroness' other novels, where the couples involved know each other before the book begins. ( )
  Unreachableshelf | Aug 29, 2010 |
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This is the story which Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart., told to His Royal highness that evening in the Assembly Rooms at Bath.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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