Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reviews of "Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel"

The reviews are starting to come in, and so far they are good!

1. Best Pimpernel Story Ever (5 stars)
C.P. Lesley has successfully mated a romantic adventure with cutting-edge science fiction without befogging the reader with ether technobabble nor the stilted language of 18th-century heros. Her unique slant on total immersion VR is a treat and would alone earn my recommendation. That she brings the period alive makes this a must-read for fans of the Pimpernel.

Placed into the body of France's most beautiful actress, our heroine (a Ph.D candidate) first dismisses her host as a birdbrained fool but soon comes to think of her as a sister. Together the two must work with the period's most swashbuckling hero to defeat the darkest villain of post-revolutionary France. Not to mention, win the game and her teacher's respect.

If you're not into "chic lit" then know that the humor of a 21st-century graduate student trapped in the mannered world of 18th-century Europe is priceless. Adventure, romance, humor--an unbeatable combination.

The down side? The occasional French phrases are like little stumbling blocks for those of us not fluent in the language. But you can ignore them without losing any of the story. On the other hand, you can look them up and build your vocabulary.

It is important to note that you don't need to have read The Scarlet Pimpernel (by Baroness Orczy, 1905) to enjoy Lesley's book but it does help. Things get more interesting when the VR explorers step away from Orczy's plot and have to improvise. This is where Lesley shines.

2. What a good read! (5 stars)
The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel, by Catriona Lesley, is original, witty, suspenseful, and engaging. Anyone unfamiliar with the original Scarlet Pimpernel will have no problem understanding what's happening because the author has explained it in the opening chapters. When the simulation game in the story begins, the reader is engrossed in the plot and fascinated with the development of characters and relationships. The nuggets of historical data picked up along the line enrich the reader's experience. I've recommended this book to several friends and am now re-reading it myself.

3. Very clever idea and extremely well written (5 stars)
As soon as I read a blurb about The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel, I knew I wanted to read it. The Scarlet P. is one of my all-time favorite historical novels, with a great mix of romance and derring-do. C.P. Lesley came up with the wonderful concept of allowing modern-day students to take part in a reenactment of TSP that would literally involve them in the action, thanks to the sort of industrial magic that made Andy Serkis into Gollum. The first-person narrator, Ninel Pennington, swans around in the body, costume, and milieux of her character, Marguerite, but also has Marguerite talking to her in her head. Will Marguerite be able to overcome the aloofness of her husband, Sir Percy Blakeney? Will the Scarlet Pimpernel escape the clutches of the villain, Chauvelin? We're not sure, because the "actors" now have the power to change the plot. It's all very well done, and Ninel's own story parallels Marguerite's with Sir Percy very nicely. I'd like to see more from this author. Highly recommended.

From iTunes:
Have you ever wanted to relive your favorite book? (5 stars)
History, fiction, computer games, romance—this debut novel is a lighthearted, funny, at times touching exploration of a common readers' fantasy: to relive, and perhaps rewrite, a beloved novel. A group of grad students vying for the approval of the top professor in their field compete to come out ahead in the classic action adventure romance The Scarlet Pimpernel. In doing so, they create a new story. And no, you need not know anything about the original to enjoy the remake: the author explains the essentials in the first few chapters. A great summer read!

And one more, very short, from Facebook:
All my favorite things in one tale: the French revolution; romantic subterfuge; misunderstood heroes and time travel!

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