A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel: Comparison Book Review

A Tale of Two Cities, written by Charles Dickens and The Scarlet Pimpernel, written by Baroness Orczy, are two novels, written in the historical fiction genre, that are set in the French Revolution. Both novels have similarities but are very different in their own ways. Which one should you read first? Or which one I recommend you read first? Well in this comparison book review I will be answering those questions, and more.

A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, is the tale of a Doctor named Mannet, who had just been released from the Bastille(a famous prison), in Paris France, after being imprisoned for eighteen years. Upon his release he moves to London, England, and begins to live with his daughter Lucie(whom he has never met). The rest of the novel shows many historically accurate details on the French Revolution and the Reign of Terror, and how Mannet’s small family survives during this difficult time in history.

The author of this novel, Charles Dickens (who also wrote Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, and The Christamas Carol, all very well known and widely read today), wrote this novel with a third person narrator(a narrator that knows all the details of the story, without actually being in the story), so none of the actual characters from the novel narrated the story. The setting of the novel has two locations, Paris France and London, England, both cities are mentioned a lot throughout the novel, and play important roles, also, Dickens did a very good job by incorporating the dates the story is based in, without making the novel sound like a history book. The dates that the story is set in is 1770 to 1794. 

The main genre of this novel is quite obvious, historical fiction, but there are some sections of the novel that read like a novel from the romance genre, so I believe that the main two genres from this novel are, historical and romance. Social injustice is a theme portrayed throughout the story, which is very similar to a lot of Charles Dickens’ other novels, but there are other smaller themes in the novel also, such as courage.

What I thought of the novel? Did I like it? Dislike? Would I read more by the author? 

First question: yes, I did like this novel a lot, the novel itself was a very interesting read, and had a very good plot, also the book was very well written and structured. This novel is probably one of the best novels I have read out of the historical fiction genre.

Second question: no I did not dislike this novel, I actually enjoyed reading it, but like every novel I have read there are a few things that I disliked, one of those things were, the novel got a little confusing at a certain point, but that was made up for by the very good plot of this novel.

Third and final question: yes, I would read more by this author, and I actually already have. I have always liked Charles Dickens novels, and have already read a few of them. I plan on reading more in the future once all the libraries have been reopened.

So overall as you may tell I really enjoyed reading A Tale of Two Cities. Now moving on to The Scarlet Pimpernel.

The Scarlet Pimpernel

The Scarlet Pimpernel, by Emma Orczy or Baroness Orczy, is the tale of a secret society (during the French Revolution), that calls themselves the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel. This society rescues aristocrats from their deaths from guillotine. This group is led by a mysterious man who calls himself the Scarlet Pimpernel.

 As all of this is going on in France, back in England, the beautiful, young French actress, Marguerite St Just, who is the wife of the wealthy, Sir Percy Blakeney(the couple though they seem quite desirable they are actually quite unhappy with each other, and are rather cold and estranged to one another), is very worried for her elder brother, Armand. She is worried for her brother because he is being deported to France. This is one of the reasons why she and her husband are very cold and rather unhappy with one another.

During a ball Marguerite encounters one of her old friend’s, Clavulin(who is a supporter for the French government), she of course speaks with him and even makes a deal with him. The deal that the two made is that Clavulin must help save her brother, and she must figure out the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, for Clavulin. The rest of the story is about Marguerite trying to save her brother and discovering the Scarlet Pimpernel’s identity.

The author of this novel, Baroness Orczy or Emma Orczy (who also wrote Pimpernel and Rosemary and The Case of Miss Elliot), wrote the Scarlet Pimpernel with a third person narrator(a narrator that knows all the details but is not in the actual story). The setting of this novel, like the A Tale of Two Cities, has two locations, and again like A Tale of Two Cities, those locations are France and England, but the time period is a little different, because there is only one time period, 1792, unlike A Tale of Two Cities that has a long range time range in the novel.

The genre of this novel is mainly historical fiction, but it also has aspects of a novel from the romance genre, so the two main genres are historical and romance. Love is something that is seen quite a bit as a theme throughout the story, and so is courage, which gives the book the feel of a historical novel, with romance, and action.

What I thought of the novel? Did I like it? Dislike it? Would I read more by the author?

First question: yes I liked this novel, very much so. The things I liked about the novel were, the characters especially Marguerite(she grew so much in character for the better in the end), how the novel combined history and fiction, which gave the novel a sense of reality but with a touch of fiction, and the final thing that I liked from this novel is the fact that this novel is one of the few historical fiction novels that actually has some romance, not a small amount but instead a moderate amount. Also the novel is really well written and an interesting read in general.

Second question: no I did not dislike this novel. In my opinion this novel was very good, and I enjoyed it a lot, but again there were a few things that I disliked, one of which were, was the fact that the beginning of the novel was a little confusing(I just had to grasp onto the novel).

Third question: would I read more by this author? Yes I would, I actually would like to finish the Scarlet Pimpernel series(yes the author wrote an entire series), just because I would like to see how the story would end, and I may check out some of her other books.

Comparison of A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel 

Both books are unique and quite different when it comes to plot, but like a lot of novels they do have their similarities, and differences(of course). In this section of this book review I will be getting into these similarities and differences, with examples.

The similarities of these two novels are: both novels are set during the French Revolution, they are both set in the same countries(France and England), the novels are both in sections known as the historical fiction genre and they both have aspects of the romance genre in parts of the novel(especially in the Scarlet Pimpernel), and the final thing is that both novels share a similar theme, courage(which is seen throughout both novels).

The differences of these two novels on the other hand are: A Tale of Two Cities is more historical than The Scarlet Pimpernel(this is because A Tale of Two Cities contains many historically accurate such as the details of the many unjust things that led up and went on during the French Revolution), the Scarlet Pimpernel is more fiction than A Tale of Two Cities(this is also because the Scarlet Pimpernel in general contained more emotional and dramatic details than A Tale of Two Cities,(that does not mean though that The Scarlet Pimpernel have historically accurate details or was not well researched when the author was writing the novel). The final thing is the fact that A Tale of Two Cities is set in a longer time range than The Scarlet Pimpernel(A Tale of Two Cities, the novel starts in the year 1770, and ends in the year 1794, but The Scarlet Pimpernel is set in only one year, 1792, so a much shorter time period). So as you may notice both novels have their similarities and differences. 

Which novel do I prefer? I like both novels very much, but I have to say that I found that I liked The Scarlet Pimpernel more than A Tale of Two Cities. The reasons why I like The Scarlet Pimpernel more is the fact that I found the plot of this novel more exciting, interesting, and unpredictable, all things that I like in a novel. A Tale of Two Cities, contained less of those, and was a much more serious novel, which I like a lot also, but less so than The Scarlet Pimpernel.

Conclusion

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, is the tale of a doctor, Mannet, and his family’s survival during the French Revolution. This novel is written with a third person narrator, and is set in London England, and Paris France. The genre of this novel is historical fiction, but the novel also contains small aspects of the romance genre, in some parts. Social injustice like many of Dickens novels is a common theme throughout the novel, and plays an important role in the plot. I concluded that I enjoyed reading this novel, and found it quite interesting.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy, is a story of a secret society, led by a man who calls himself the Scarlet Pimpernel, that rescues French aristocrats from their deaths during the French Revolution. Back in England, French actress Marguerite St Just, worries for her brother Armand’s safety, to save her brother she makes a deal with a French government supporter, and old friend Clavulin.

 The terms of this deal is that Clavulin will ensure her brother’s safety and Marguerite will undercover the Scarlet Pimpernel’s identity. The rest of the novel is about her uncovering the identity of the Scarlet Pimpernel, and trying to save her brother. This novel is written with a third person narrator, and is set in England and France, during the French Revolution. The genre of this novel is historical fiction and romance, and the main themes of this novel is love and courage. Again like the other novel I wrote about, I enjoyed this novel a great deal, and found it a very interesting and exciting story.

I wrote this comparison book review to compare two novels, A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel. I compared these two novels to see what similarities and differences they had, I also noted which novel I preferred. 

The novel that I recommend someone to read? I personally believe that you should read both of these novels, they are both very good and a must read, but to answer this question I would recommend The Scarlet Pimpernel.


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