Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini


Forgive this bland book cover image, but I couldn’t find one that truly did the book justice, thus I was forced to choose this one. :/ Such dismal thoughts aside, Jo got this from a friend and, before she had a chance to read it, I devoured it. 😀

Sabatini has officially made it to my list of top five favorite authors. I marvel at the way he managed to weave politics, not-so mushy romance and adventure into this 300+ page book and still make it palatable to the reader.

This book also caused me to note the decline of the English language in today’s generation. I am one of those people who keeps a notebook nearby when reading to write down words I don’t know so as to look them up later. In this book I found over 70 words I didn’t know the meaning to (such as phrenetic, tawdry, histrionic, thrasonical). Keep in mind that this was written in the 1920s, little under a century ago.

That said, let’s get to the plot: 18th century France is in a turmoil and one young man is apathetic to it all. That is, until his best friend is murdered for his ‘dangerous gift’ of oratory. Determined to avenge his friend’s death, Andre Louis turns from his career as a lawyer to that of a public speaker. Decrying royalty he stirs the ‘citizens’ to action against the ‘upper’ class. A price is put on his head and he flees, from there becoming actor, lover, fencing master, official…..all the while seeking to slay the man who killed his friend. In the end he must choose between revenge and forgiveness.

Why I loved this book:

#1. Words. Beautifully, thoughtfully written words that makes a sentence almost melt, as it were, in your mind.

#2. The humour is exquisite! Example: (read in your best Errol Flynn voice) Andre- “That was only one of the inducements. There was another. Finding myself forced to choose between the stage and the gallows, I had the incredible weakness to prefer the former.”

#3. In this book Sabatini encourages a mind to think. Pondering the whys, whats and hows… He addresses the popular ‘ignorance is bliss’ theory (pg. 35), populace vs. power (pg. 7), and hereditary government (pg. 246). Not to mention pages 337 and 338, which truly causes a person to carefully consider who was in the right- the ‘upper’ class or the ‘citizens’? Which side should have won in the French Revolution?

#4. Andre always trying to remain the Stoic, yet it inevitably backfired several times.

#5. The ending! I truly did not see that coming till the last couple of chapters. I love it when an author gives me an unexpected plot twist.

#6. I sorta knew sword play would come in sooner or later- I mean, how else could you be Scaramouche? The way he gets a job in the Academy is funny, as is the way he ends up creating his own theory.

#7. He kept bumping into the Marquis to the point where I was getting upset with him.

#8. The whole Marquis/Andre duel mix-up with Aline and the Countess was quite relatable. Not that I’ve ever been in a duel before, but the premise behind the mix-up, mainly, that assumptions are best not made.

#9. While I felt that the Marquis was rotten to the core it seemed that towards the end Sabatini was making him out to be…only half rotten?

#10. Though he had read many a book, Andre appeared to have left off reading anything pertaining to when/ how to speak (i.e. manners). Of course, I guess that’s part of what makes him Scaramouche.

#11. Benet and the Wanted poster. Well played.

I thought it could’ve used a little more adventure but, all in all, it made for a fast paced story.

What I didn’t like:

#1. Bad words. Everywhere! Mainly, Oh, my —! Ugh…

#2. There is one teensy paragraph where Andre is said to have been communing with the dead (pg. 273).

#3. The Marquis was over the top annoying….of course, without him, I guess there wouldn’t even be a book. :/

I give it about four books, if only there were no bad words. It makes for a good historical novel, which, though it is called a romance, isn’t too mushy and gets a mind to thinking.

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