Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Real Chauvelin

Yes, the man actually existed.

(Does anyone else think it's unfair that Chauvelin was a real person but Sir Percy is fiction???)

Citizen Chauvelin is loosely based on Bernard-Fran├žois, marquis de Chauvelin, a real official during the French revolution. According to my highly reliable source (which is really the much fail-able Wikipedia), the real Chauvelin is not much like the books' portrayal at all.

Here are some basic fact about the man:

1) he was actually of noble birth (His father was Master of the King's Wardrobe! How's that for a job title...) but had liberal tendencies and welcomed the Revolution.

2) He really was an ambassador for the "new" France.

3) he was an outstanding orator

4) He died in April of 1832 of cholera

I did find information once that said he was married, but I can't remember the reference and so cannot vouch for it. I have not been able to find anything about a marriage since. He is not especially well-kown; I could not find much more information or any picture of what he really looked like.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Folks, it is with some embarrassment that we Leaguettes admit that there has not yet been a single review on this blog of the one book that started it all: The Scarlet Pimpernel.  And today, we hope to remedy this shocking omission with a lovely guest post by Petie Marie!

"… You are forgetting the most important factor." 
"What in the world do you mean?–I am forgetting nothing…. What factor do you mean?" she added with more impatience. 
"It stands six foot odd high," replied Sir Andrew, quietly, "and hath name Percy Blakeney."

Ohmyword, where to begin?

I am positively, 100%, bordering-on-obsessive crazy about this book. It is ridiculously clever, Sir Percy is da man, and I laughed, cried, and laughed some more.

Shall I start with Percy? Odd’s fish, m’dear, what a capital idea!

The one and a half pages introducing Sir Percy already had me convinced I was going to love him; stupid, inane man that he is. When I actually met him, I fell head over heels. He is a delightful fop with his impeccable clothing, his foolish laugh, his obsession with luxury, his amusing sayings and way of speech. True, he’s no Austen hero… at least at first glance.

“She looked through the tattered curtain, across at the handsome face of her husband, in whose lazy blue eyes, and behind whose inane smile, she could now so plainly see the strength, energy, and resourcefulness which had caused the Scarlet Pimpernel to be reverenced and trusted by his followers. ‘There are nineteen of us ready to lay down our lives for your husband, Lady Blakeney,’ Sir Andrew had said to her; and as she looked at the forehead, low, but square and broad, the eyes, blue, yet deep-set and intense, the whole aspect of the man, of indomitable energy, hiding, behind a perfectly acted comedy, his almost superhuman strength of will and marvellous ingenuity, she understood the fascination which he exercised over his followers, for had he not also cast his spells over her heart and her imagination?”

Unfortunately, before I read the book, I knew the true identity of Sir Percy Blakeney, but it certainly didn’t spoil anything! I adored him long before the secret was revealed to Marguerite. He makes me laugh, and I dearly love to laugh. I greatly admire the strength of his love for Marguerite. The extent of his love is far beyond anything she can imagine, and I felt so sorry for him in Chapter 16. I wanted to grab Marguerite by the shoulders and scream, “He LOVES you, stupid woman! Quit playing with him!”

Wow… I was bouncing in and out of different degrees of crying throughout this entire chapter. His passion, her tears, his turmoil, her hopelessness, his love, her confusion. It really just ripped me apart. Percy loves Marguerite with everything in him, and she just used him and toyed with his love until it finally broke him. And even then, he still loves her, even though she’s too blind to see it. *sob*

Unlike other people (COUGH*miss dashwood*COUGH), I loved Sir Percy right from the start. He is SUCH a perfect Englishman, and I loves me my British guys. Then later on when it is revealed that Sir Percy is indeed the Scarlet Pimpernel, the daring and bold rescuer that everyone reveres and admires, I literally squealed (even though I already knew it). He played his act as a fool so very well. And just the fact that he is the Scarlet Pimpernel is incredible. On a regular basis, he risks his life for French aristocrats. He is not obligated or indebted to them in any way, but he believes in justice and cannot stomach the idea of innocent people being sent to the guillotine.

This quote had me rolling. I read it and had to put the book down because I was laughing so hard. Then I went back and reread it several times over again (and yes, I giggled every time). Then I got my camera and took several pictures of that paragraph. Each click of my camera produced another inane giggle.

“The young man drew up his slim stature to its full height and looked very enthusiastic, very proud, and very hot as he gazed at six foot odd of gorgeousness, as represented by Sir Percy Blakeney, Bart.”

Lady Marguerite Blakeney did not impress me at first. At all. I thought her selfish and petty. And sometimes I wondered if she thought she loved Percy just because he turned out to be the Scarlet Pimpernel, and you know, that’s just pretty cool to discover that your husband is a courageous, Robin Hood-type who whisks aristocrats away right under the noses of those who want to kill them. During the aforementioned Chapter 16, I was totally on Percy’s side. He had given his all to Marguerite, and she just played him like a harp, only showing affection for him because he worships the ground she walks on (The last paragraph of Chapter 16!! A little bit of me died inside.). But as I got to know her better, I softened a bit. I’m of the group that likes Marguerite, even though she can be selfish, and thinks she is just a little misunderstood.
(But I’m still Team Percy.)

As much as I despised the very mention of his name, Chauvelin was a fantastic villain. He was evil and relentless and determined and merciless. And I howled so very much at the bit with the pepper snuff. That could very well be one of the best scenes in the history of literature. Go, Percy!

(All of my paragraphs end up being about Percy. Is this a problem? No. No, it is not.)

Chauvelin is a wretch, but he is a great villain. The ending words of the book are priceless. I was chuckling at “It is also a fact that M. Chauvelin, the accredited agent of the French Republican Government, was not present at that or any other social function in London, after that memorable evening at Lord Grenville’s ball.”

Oh, and since reading this book, I have found a certain little someone who I have endearingly nicknamed “my little Chauvelin.” No need to name names; she knows who she is.

Okay, back to Percy now.

I find it hilarious that while he does lead a double life, whenever he isn’t in disguise and rescuing Frenchies, Sir Percy is still Sir Percy, a thoroughly British dude who adores being the pinnacle of fashion: “Everything on board the Day Dream was fitted with that exquisite luxury, so dear to Sir Percy Blakeney’s heart, and by the time they all landed at Dover he had found time to get into some of the sumptuous clothes which he loved, and of which he always kept a supply on board his yacht… But it is on record that at the brilliant wedding of Sir Andrew Ffoulkes, Bart., with Mlle. Suzanne de Tournay de Basserive, a function at which H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and all the elite of fashionable society were present, the most beautiful woman there was unquestionably Lady Blakeney, whilst the clothes Sir Percy Blakeney wore were the talk of the jeunesse doree of London for many days.”

The Scarlet Pimpernel is simply one of the best classics I’ve ever read (as far as content goes, it does contain quite a few uses of a variation of the “d—” word). It was charming, witty, adventurous and unique. My only complaint with it is that after Marguerite arrives in France, the rest of the book seems to move very slowly. But that is really a trifle compared to the Royal Epicness that is Sir Percy.

Oh! And I have a new saying now…

I am now in the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel! And though I may be the only Leaguette on the face of the planet who hasn’t seen the esteemed 1982 movie, I’m quite content with being a fangirl for the Sir Percy of the book. :)

My rating: 9.5 out of 10!

Would I read it again: Would I? Ohhhhh, yes.

~ Petie Wilson, Leaguette.

Heya! I'm Petie, an aspiring author, wanna-be Brit, and die-hard Okie country girl. I love my Jesus, a good book, laughter, the color red, and coffee. I blog over at Dirt and Dickens, where I share my obsession with literature, my thoughts on cultural or spiritual issues, too many pictures, and random musings about my crazy life. Come visit me, yes? Cheers!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

And Now For a Break in Our Normal Programming..

...To give you this important, Non-Anthony Andrews update.

     With all this talk of super heroes going round, dashing heroics has been much upon the minds of many, including our favorite gentleman, columnist, demographic expert, and singer (after the style of Rex Harrison) Mark Steyn, who was on Rush Limbaugh's radio show friday (The 20th of July) not only mentioned The Scarlet Pimpernel, but quoted, word for word, his entire poem.  Sir Percy is again compared to Batman.  If you are a Rush 24/7 member, you may listen to it in the second hour, about 5 min. in.    Before hand, if you are interested, is a hilarious discussion about Canadian superheroes.  Enjoy.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

We Can't Believe He Did It!

The concert was glorious, Amy, Maria, Eowyn and I have all blogged about it, and here's my personal favorite of his songs...

He was the best. Of course. How could we even wonder?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

We Only Know When He Begins to Sing to Me...erm...Us...

We all will sing, sing, sing all night!

For all you faithful AA/Percy fans out there...Saturday we unite!

This Saturday evening (July 14th) at seven o'clock (afternoon for those of us on the American side of the pond...I'm Central Time and that will be one o'clock for me) will be the concert version of My Fair Lady at the BBC Proms, starring our own Anthony Andrews (not that he's ours...really...well, you know) as Professor Henry Higgins! The best part...they will be broadcasting the audio online!!!

I don't know about you, but I have wished in my wildest dreams (and those Impossible Bucket Lists) to see him play Higgins after reading of his stint in the role in the early 2000's, and hearing him is probably the closest I will get. To say I'm excited is...well...a huge understatement.

The link is tune in! If you would like, you can follow some of the Leaguettes lead (myself included) and blog your thoughts after the concert!

Sink me, if he isn't going to go and do it! And all we can say is, congratulations, old chap!  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Cue Music, Literally

Here on The Day Dream, it has been bandied about recently that the Leaguettes need a theme song.  After all, we are Sir Percy's biggest fans ever-- we need something that we can sing at the top of our lungs to proclaim our devotion to our hero.  Right?  Right.  And though the musical has some nice songs, "Into the Fire" isn't exactly a fangirly ballad and "When I Look At You" is just too doggone sad and "She Was There" is, hello, PERCY'S song.   No, we need something that is ours and ours alone.

Cue Miss Dashwood's epic, never-before-seen songwriting skills.
And, um, some plagiarism from The King and I.

This inspiring and inspired song was penned on scrap paper, in the dark, late at the night on July 4th, on the way home from the fireworks.  When genius burns, you can't be picky about the time and place, you know.  So I wrote the song, read/sang it aloud to my sister Anne-girl when we got home and received her stamp of approval.  We recorded an a capella duet version this morning so you will all know how it sounds, and I made a video with lots and lots of pictures of Percy to illustrate it. :D

(My apologies for the terribly poor quality of the audio... this was recorded on our mom's laptop, which doesn't have the world's most stellar recording system. :D  More apologies, also, for the fact that Sir Percy's actual name doesn't appear in the song.  I just couldn't seem to fit it in nicely.  To make up for this sad omission, you may simply shriek "PERCY PERCY PERCY PERCY" at the beginning and end each time you sing the song.)


This is a man who acts from his heart
He's tender and brave and wise
This is a man of courage and strength
And we totally melt when he cries.
This is a man who knows how to forgive
We'll love and admire him as long as we live!

He does not always show
His worth so all may know
But we who love him so
Know he's wonderful!

The dangerous things he'll do
Will scare and worry you
But you know he must do
What is wonderful.

He has an impossible dream
That may not come true
You know that he believes in it
And that's enough for you.

For him we'll raise this song
We've known it all along
And for him we'll stand strong
He is wonderful!
He does not need our love
But still he'll get our love
The Scarlet Pimpernel-- he is wonderful!