Thursday, April 22, 2010

Character Connection: Marguerite Blakeney

This is a very interesting meme from the Introverted Reader, where the goal is to spotlight one character of interest every week.

This week's character is again from a book that I just finished reading. The book is The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, and the character is Marguerite Blakeney, the extremely beautiful, intelligent, daring wife of Sir Percy Blakeney.

The setting for The Scarlet Pimpernel is England and France during the French Revolution when members of the French aristocracy were being put to the guillotine by the Republicans. Marguerite Blakeney, formerly Marguerite St. Just used to be an actress at the Comedie-Francaise whose sympathies lay firmly with the Republicans. She then married Sir Percy Blakeney, one of England's richest aristocrats, a good friend of the Prince of Wales, and a reputed fop.

Lady Blakeney is described as one of the most beautiful and fashionable women in England. She is an active socialite, attending balls and parties where all eyes are on what she wears and how she comports herself. Before marriage, Marguerite was a member of one of the leading intellectual salons in Paris, and is described as "the cleverest woman Europe". Marguerite thus seems to have it all - beauty, wealth, intelligence, and a handsome husband - but happiness eludes her. Her marriage, the result of a passionate courtship on Sir Percy's part, is strained as a result of an incident in her past that Sir Percy learnt about soon after their wedding. Marguerite tries every trick in the book to ignite a spark in Sir Percy, but fails to do so, and is left feeling miserable, She then tries to hide behind a mask of contempt for her husband's inanity, but suffers deeply behind the mask.

Pride and fear prevent Marguerite from expressing her feelings and when she does attempt to open up, other circumstances prevent him from responding to her overtures. Marguerite soon learns of the reasons behind her husband's distance, and becomes aware of her immense love for the man, and how close she has come to betraying him in error. Then, we get to see her courage, passion, and dedication to the two men she loves in full bloom as she risks her life trying to help save them from the clutches of the enemy.

The Scarlet Pimpernel is written largely from Marguerite's point of view, and to me, she is the real hero of the novel. She is indeed a passionate woman in every way, and the reader rides the waves of her intense emotions - love, hate, happiness, misery, guilt, a desire for atonement, fear - what a range of sensations, all within 265 pages! Throughout the book, one feels a strong sympathy for Marguerite, a hope that all will go well for her, and a wish that she will find true love and happiness with Sir Percy.

To me Marguerite is the ideal heroine - seriously, who would not want to be Lady Blakeney with her beauty, talent, intelligence, wit, immense courage, wealth, title, passion, love of life, and above all, the wonderful Sir Percy?


  1. I'm glad you're featuring someone from The Scarlet Pimpernel! Marguerite was annoying to me, at first, but I agree she went on to become an ideal heroine. And she shares excellent chemistry with Sir Percy.

  2. She is the perect woman, isn't she? I would have loved to be in that era and be her freind..

  3. Marguerite, always annoyed me a bit but she did have the whole package. Sometimes I think she was just a little misunderstood. Great choice!

  4. Blimey, this sounds like a great book. I feel like a complete imbecile for not having read it. Margerite sounds like an inspiring woman.

  5. Kals and Whitney - Interesting that you found her a bit annoying. I can see how that is possible at the beginning of the book when she seems a bit superior. I agree she does share good chemistry with Sir Percy, and she was a bit misunderstoond, especially when she seems so comtemptuous of Sir Percy.

    bookswithcoffee - I agree with you completely, I would have loved to have her as a friend. What I would give to spend a day in that era!

    Becky - this is a very good book, and a light read too for a classic!

  6. You and Whitney seem determined to get me to read this! ;) These characters you've each described sound great! Since you liked this one, you might like The Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig. It's the first in a very fun, romantic series about a league of spies during the Napoleonic wars. Seem familiar?

  7. I've read the book years ago, but can't remember much of it. Maybe I should do a re-read.

  8. Jen - I have never heard of the Secret History of the Pink Carnation - I really have to try that series, I enjoy historical fiction very much!

    Sullivan McPig - The Scarlet Pimpernel was a light and fun read - worth reading again! I definitely plan on a re-read sometime in the future.