Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

Novel, Book Review, Romance, French Revolution Book, Fiction Book, Book to read

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I’m not sure why, but this book seems to have been overlooked by a lot of the readers I know.  They’ve read The Scarlet Pimpernel (by Baroness Orczy), they’ve read most of Jane Austen’s books and maybe even Ivanho, (by Sir Walter Scott), but not Scaramouche.  I’m not sure why, and I think it’s a pity; however, one reason might be they’ve simply never heard of it!  I’m recommending you read it, because it has it all!  Really!  I’m going to list what I’m including under the sobriquet of “ALL.”

  1. A smooth and elegant villain that we know immediately for a cad. That’s right, he’s a scoundrel, a reprobate and a rogue.  He is also a murderer.  One yearns for him to get what he deserves.  Truly and ardently, one yearns for this.
  2. A hero with a worldly philosophy, grounded in the reality he knows. But—he has a loving and loyal heart!  He also has a great sense of humor; as a result, he doesn’t take himself, or the world, too seriously.
  3. A glorious backdrop, namely of the impending French Revolution. This is a time resplendently portrayed in favorites Les Miserable (by Victor Hugo) and A Tale of Two Cities (by Charles Dickens). It is not wasted, indeed it is central, to all that happens in Scaramouche.
  4. Witty interchanges.
  5. Amazing swordplay.
  6. Lots of Action!
  7. A little bit of a mystery.
  8. Life experiences that help the Protagonist to learn.
  9. Descriptions that sparkle
  10. A resounding dénouement (something many books lack, n’est-ce pas?)

I hope no one minds me slinging a little French around, especially as I can’t speak French at all. It’s just that the book is set in France, and I don’t recall ever having the opportunity to pull out “n’est-ce pas?” before.  Who knows if I ever will again? I think I picked it up from David Suchet’s Poirot, a series I enjoyed. 

Anyway, it’s clear from my list that I’m not exaggerating when I claim this book has good stuff in it.  In addition to the above, Andre’ Louis, the protagonist, is well characterized.  It’s a work both tragic and comedic.  It has a quality I’ll call charm. Think of it as a repast to linger over, as I have read the French do over dinner. 


This Abibliophobe