Mam'zelle Guillotine

Mam'zelle Guillotine (Scarlet Pimpernel) - Baroness Emma Orczy

This book, seventh in the series chronologically, was first published around 1940. By then Orczy had apparently forgotten her own Pimpernel timeline, especially as it pertained to books written prior to 1920, as she makes mention of an adventure that hasn't happened yet and claims Lord Tony is among the single members of the Pimpernel's band. Not that I mind the thought of my darling Lord Tony being single again, but that's small consolation to my inner pedant.


Mam'zelle Guillotine features a female villain, who of course wears breeches and is built like a man and is as proficient an executioner as the Republic could hope for. I kind of wanted a female Chauvelin, all cunning and suave and silky. What I got was a cartoonish harridan with all the subtlety of a boot to the head. Which isn't all that surprising, really, and it also wasn't nearly as disappointing as the Pimpernel's own performance.


This is the book where we find out how low our intrepid hero is willing to go to achieve his aims. And it's pretty darn low. I lost a little respect for him. Not that I felt sorry for the villain, but . . . blech. It's my least favorite Pimpernel adventure so far, and I think I need to take a break from them for a while.


Oh, and while reading this book it's very important to note that back in the day, to "make love" to someone meant to woo them. Very important.