My rating: 5 of 5 stars
André-Louis confessed to himself that had he been cursed with such a hangdog countenance he would have worn his hat in precisely such a manner, so as to conceal as much of it as possible. If M. Leandre appeared to be wearing, in part at least, the cast-offs of nobleman, the newcomer appeared to be wearing the cast-offs of M. Leandre.
Rafael Sabatini’s Scaramouche has by far one of the most moving climaxes of any classic I’ve ever read. Matter of fact I’ve rehashed the ending a couple of times since I finished reading this brilliant retelling of events preceding the explosive French Revolution and what happens after.
Our unlikely hero and protagonist is André-Louis Moreau. He is a parentless young lad, housed and educated in Paris under the auspices of the Quintin de Kercadiou, the Lord of Gavrillac, who is rumored to be his biological father. André-Louis’s childhood friends include his best friend Vilmorin and Kercadiou’s niece, the beautiful quick-witted Aline to conclude the trio.
Enter Antagonist: Marquis de la Tour d’Azyr: Unlike the mild, retiring Kercadiou, a man of simple ways, d’Azyr is a true dyed in the wool, unapologetic blue-eyed noble of vast resources and influence. d’Azyr’s unabashed romantic designs on Aline coupled with the regrettable events that transpire soon after d’Azyr’s visit to Kercadiou to state his intentions conspire to set him and André-Louis as bitter enemies.
Against the backdrop of the impending French Revolution, Rafael Sabatini wrings from such a morbid setting a beautiful romantic adventure. The classical writing style is surely dated although not by much. Published by Sabatini in 1921, the story borrows in title and literary devices works written much earlier. Like his temporal character, Scaramouche, in the plays he fervently authored and acted, André-Louis is the kindling that sets the ball rolling on different fronts. He sheds many skins, from lawyer to fugitive, firebrand revolutionary speaker to stage actor/author when that goes bust, a swords master of growing renown.
Scaramouche is surprisingly an easy read. The English might not be commonplace, but Sabatini more that makes up for it with a fast-paced plot and interesting characters. The social class struggles, the love and the conflict are human virtues and follies untouched by time, rendering it relatable in this day and age. As for the climax, it was everything I expected. Take my word for it, the ending will your mind! Five stars, well deserved.