WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY BERNARD CORNWELL. When Andre-Louis witnesses the murder of his best friend by an arrogant and privileged aristocrat he swears to avenge his death.
Forced to flee his hometown after stirring up revolutionary fervour in the citizens, he falls in with a travelling theatre company and disguises himself as the character of the wily rogue Scaramouche.
His ensuing adventures involve hair-raising duels, romance, treachery and shocking family secrets all handled with brilliance and wit by this extraordinary hero.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 352 pages
- Publisher: Vintage Publishing
- Publication Date: 04/06/2009
- Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
- ISBN: 9780099529859
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Review by AHS-Wolfy
Set on the cusp of the French revolution we follow a young André-Louis Moreau, godson (and presumed by most to be an illegitimate son) of a rural lord. Trained as a lawyer he is distraught when his friend, Philippe de Vilmorin, is forced into a duel with the Marquis de La Tour d'Azyr where he is totally outclassed and killed and the attempts at justice fall on deaf ears. Apolitical himself, André-Louis takes up his friend’s cause and vows to destroy his killer in the process. A killer he was already predisposed to dislike due to affections shown by the Marquis to Aline, niece to his godfather and childhood playmate of both André-Louis and Philippe. When his speech incites a mob, André-Louis is accused of sedition so rather than wait for the hangman’s noose he flees and finds a hiding place in a troupe of actors where he falls into the role of Scaramouche. With his natural gifts of oration and his previously sardonic outlook he soon settles into the role of comic instigator and advances the troupe’s reputation enormously. It’s not long before they’re heading for the heights of perhaps even the Cemedie Francais in Paris. But what will happen when the paths of André-Louis and the Marquis cross again?The tone of the book differs quite a bit from that of the movie of which I’m sure more people are familiar with. The setting adds an extra element of tension to the story of the book with the film being a much more light-hearted romantic affair. These romantic entanglements are also much heightened in the film version. There are certainly enough differences to be able to enjoy both for what they are. The book is a tale of revenge, adventure, political intrigue, love and the study of man’s nature. The hero is a complex character who, if he had been handled by a lesser author, would probably be difficult to like. He is good at everything he tries, sometimes appearing heartless and unaffected by events surrounding him. Not having an identity of his own he takes on the role of his murdered friend in order to avenge his death and then through the unfolding events discovers himself.