lots of shenanigans in a fun little novel that i certainly cannot fault for failing to provide adventure. these are the many exciting exploits that young lawyer turned revolutionary turned actor:the eponymous scaramouche and our hero, andré-louis moreau embarks upon, and the back drop -- the years of the french revolution -- make an interesting setting for sabatini's special brand of swashbuckling.
so entertaining, yes. but..
there are too many forgettable inconsistent supporting characters abruptly abandoned for yet another set replacing them with each career, and unfailingly, each career we find scaramouche remarkably proficient in, and his own convenient composure makes him feel a little trite. in contrast, captain blood is capable: he is doctor and soldier and pirate. but it doesn't always go his way. he has some serious setbacks, and moral quandaries, and bad luck, and he gets loaded and cries like a baby. scaramouche? if he gives a speech it will rival the greatest revolutionary leaders; if he decides to write a play, he will compete with molière. and when he has setbacks, he withdraws into himself and away from the reader and excels at something else, and it doesn't matter how many times (and he tells me many times) sabatini explains that scaramouche is really only protecting himself, that he is not as heartless as he seems, but he also seems infallible, and that is kind of boring. i want to feel like there is some peril for the hero -- that there is some sacrifice in his success.
i had to transcribe a paragraph which i think sabatini meant for laughs, but seemed like a really peculiar digression that came out of nowhere which makes me wonder if it was a question that the author had pitted himself during the course of his researches on the period:
"This is M. Danton, a brother-lawyer, President of the Cordeliers, of whom you will have heard."
Of course André-Louis had heard of him. Who had not, by then?
Looking at him now with interest, André-Louis wondered how it came hat all, or nearly all the leading innovators, were pock-marked. Mirabeau, the journalist Desmoulins, the philanthropist Marat, Robespierre the little lawyer from Arras, this formidable fellow Danton, and several others he could call to mind all bore upon them the scars of smallpox. Almost he began to wonder was there any connection between the two. Did an attack of smallpox produce certain moral results which found expression in this way?
sabatini's seemingly suggesting that revolutionaries only need to feel pretty to put aside the causes. it goes nowhere. it's just a little weird digression that made me shake my head. :)
so a likeable romp but not as complete, emotionally engaging or fluid as the book he published only a year later. i will be reading more sabatini. guess i'll see whether they hold a candle to the captain blood. :)