I choose the books I assign for a variety of reasons. Sometimes I choose the book because it matches the time period we’re studying. Other times. I choose the book because it has some great ideas to discuss. A few books I choose are because the book has literary significance. I’m sure you’re thinking the title is Scarlet Pimpernel book club Ticia, what literary significance can it have? That’s a whole discussion for this book and a movie night.
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What’s the literary merit of Scarlet Pimpernel?
Honestly, it’s not high literature. The author really created the books for money, she wasn’t trying to write high art. It’s just fun schlock.
But it’s also the start of so many tropes.
Here’s the list of tropes Baroness Orczy created in the Scarlet Pimpernel:
- secret identity
- secret hideout
- the billionaire playboy who acts stupid but is secretly smart
- the genius at disguise
- secret allies to fight crime (though you could make an argument this is came from the Baker Street Irregulars from Sherlock Holmes)
Basically, the Scarlet Pimpernel is a proto-Batman. There are so many cool little bits and pieces of our modern superhero genre that you can find in this series.
What did our Scarlet Pimpernel book club look like?
My focus was talking about the ideas Baroness Orczy created when she wrote this series. As we read, we talked about that, and the awesome characters she wrote.
She’s got the first investigative reporter.
Okay, Marguerite St. Just isn’t an investigative reporter, but she does figure out who the Scarlet Pimpernel is, and then has to work and make sure Citizen Chauvelin does not find out the big secret.
But, if you want a more official Scarlet Pimpernel book club than our talking through all the cool things we found (yes I really like the book, AND have reread it several times since we officially read it).
- Scarlet Pimpernel discussion questions from Signet Classic
- Scarlet Pimpernel essay questions
- Scarlet Pimpernel literature guide (these include the answers, helpful for parents who don’t want to read the book with their kids)
Okay after I quit fan-girling to my kids about this book.
My kids may not have been as thrilled with this book as I was. They actually had the gall to tell me they liked the DICKENS French Revolution book more than Scarlet Pimpernel.
Okay, I recognize technically speaking Tale of Two Cities is a better book than Scarlet Pimpernel, but I don’t choose to reread Tale of Two Cities. I do choose to reread Scarlet Pimpernel and then go and buy the sequels.
I only read Charles Dickens if I feel like torturing myself or if for some misbegotten reason I think it’s a good idea for literature.
For some reason, I have actually assigned my kids THREE Dickens books: A Christmas Carol, Tale of Two Cities, and Oliver Twist. THREE! Why did I do that to myself?
Ummm, sorry about that rant.
Getting back on track to the Scarlet Pimpernel book club.
Scarlet Pimpernel snacks
I had fun brainstorming the different ideas for snacks, but it was a struggle to make sure the snacks were unique to themselves.
Oh no! I apparently deleted all of my pictures from the snacks, so I’m going to kind of sort of cheat and use different variations on things to create these snacks pictures…
Side point, Scarlet Pimpernel movie
If you haven’t seen the Scarlet Pimpernel movie from the 1980s I think, you should it has an amazing cast and is actually pretty well done
All right, I cheated a little bit and found similar snacks from other book clubs. When you read a lot of similar books (so many French Revolutions and so many Jane Austen books) you end up with many similar snacks.
- Scarlet Pimpernel- this is an actual flower, so we made sugar cookies and put red icing on top
- “Let them eat cake”- the famous Marie Antoinette quote she never actually said, cupcakes
- England- cucumber sandwiches
- France- a French dish, but I didn’t write down what it actually was, so I’m going to refer you to my Les Miserables post where I made so many French dishes
- scones- using our favorite scone recipe
- Yorkshire pudding- vanilla pudding
- shepherd’s pie- which is mentioned in the book, so we made a few small individual shepherd’s pie dishes
- people to behead- gingerbread cookies using this novelty cookie cutter set I bought years ago with the heads already eaten (each cookie cutter has a different body part missing)
- bread and cheese- umm literally bread and cheese
- punch- sprite and sherbert, always a hit
- tarts- I’m guessing I picked up some tarts
- madelines- again, the recipe is on the Les Miserables post, though I think for the Scarlet Pimpernel book club I bought them. This was before I figured out it’s not that hard to make