Monday, April 11, 2011

Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

"He was born with the gift of laughter, and a sense that the world was mad."  It is with these words that Rafael  Sabatini opens Scaramouche, and they are a fitting introduction.  Andre-Louis Moreau has led an easy life, studying hard and becoming a lawyer, never becoming attached to anything or anyone indefinitely.  Except for his best friend, Philippe, and his angel cousin, Aline.  But when tragedy strikes, Andre is pushed to the edge.  He becomes a public speaker for the third estate against the Privileged in France during the French Revolution.  But this is only the beginning of his journey to gain revenge on the terrible, cold Marquis la Tour d'Azyr.  He is swept away by politics, danger, theater, swordsmanship, and finally politics again - all in hopes of getting away with his life.  But life is dangerous no matter where Andre-Louis wishes to go, and the threat of the Privileged is terrible.  The Nobles, all of them, must be destroyed.  And Andre must settle a score he swore he would settle - and at any cost.


My thoughts -
Oh, sigh...  How immensely I love this book.  If I could have my way, I'd write out the whole entire book as my review, just because there is really no way to do it justice.  However, I will try.  I will try my hardest.

This is my third time to read Scaramouche.  So, as you can imagine, I've spent a lot of time with this book.  I've studied it, because it's so stinking good.  I could write a whole book on this book, because it had such an intense impact on me.  So much of an impact that not only have I read this book three times, but in a manner of only a year and a half.  Yah, this is some intense stuff.  I hardly re-read books in one year.

Basically, it's beautiful.  It's emotional, tragic, powerful, dramatic, crafted like a masterpiece, and it holds some of the greatest characters and character changes that I've ever read.  EVER.  It's full of action, romance, betrayal, secrets, disaster, political intrigue, and (I repeat) emotion.

Character notes (favorite character) -
I have a LOT to say about Andre.  But let me say something quick about the others before I get into it.
Every character in this story, from the beginning, has a character handle, or something you can identify him/her with.  Andre, he is the actor.  Philippe, he is passionate.  D'Azyr, he is cold-hearted.  Aline, she is an angel.  They easily form to their characters and become exactly what they need to be for the story to take flight.  This is an amazing thing to see as I sometimes feel like I lack character development in my own stories.  Such an everything else about this book.

But now, on to Andre.
Andre-Louis Moreau is complex.  He is man, and therefore complex, as he would say.  He has studied human nature for quite awhile - and yet he himself would be the most fitting example of a complex human being struggling to survive.  This alone fascinates me.  But let me take you a little deeper.
He is an actor, always.  He is Scaramouche, the aloof, witty character who wishes for none to see his true feelings.  But inside, he feels.  He feels deeply.  There are few moments when he lets his guard down, very few, but when he does, you see the hopes, fears, and loves of a man who wants to be something more.
He is also very wise and bold.  In fact, his wisdom surprised me this time around.  He may be jealous, act on his impulses, and manipulate his words to get his way - but there are times when he steps forward to do the right thing and he knows exactly how to make things right.  Exactly how to remove himself from a bad situation.

He begins the story as a boy, searching for revenge.  He is tested by love and betrayal and grows.  And he comes out in the end as a man, one to be respected and trusted and truly loved.  At the end of the book, I want to repeat the words of the butler Benoit, who says on page 257, "He is here....and so fine you would hardly know him.  Here he is, monseigneur!  Is he not beautiful?"

Favorite aspects/scenes (story notes) -
My favorite scenes include chapter 6, called "Clemene"; Chapter 8, called "The Dream"; the chapter called "Madame de Plougastel", where Andre-Louis vividly remembers his childhood - it produces a lot of emotion in the reader; any of Andre's rousing speeches.

But these are just some of my favorite scenes.  My all-time favorite resides in the chapter called "Spadassinicides", Chapter 7 of book 3.  It is laugh-out-loud funny, with politics, wit, danger, fencing, and something of a mix between shock, reverence, and love for Andre and his genius.

Throughout the second book (the Buskin), Andre is confronted by a wall...that wall, being M. Binet, the theater troop's director.  Andre has the brains, Binet has the power.  Andre is witty, Binet is tyrannical.  Who will gain the upper-hand?  And what of Andre's love for Binet's daughter?  This aspect of the story is a neat example of human nature and the lies we believe when we want something...

And of course, I love that Scaramouche is about the French Revolution.  The facts, turned into a story, are interesting to read and really give you a hard-core example of what it was like during that bloody time in France.  You see the revolution from both sides - the Nobles and the Peasants.  Who is right, and who is wrong?  It is a complicated war, but Sabatini lays it out so it is easy to understand.

One word to sum up this book (final thoughts) -
Triumphant.  When I finish this book (all three times) I want to throw my fists into the air, jump out of my seat and let out a shrill war cry of "TRIUMPH!!!"  Because the book takes you on a journey, the journey of a destitute man looking for happiness amongst a bloody revolution.  But more importantly, he goes through a Revolution of his own, one so profound and personal that you cannot help but feel the story for yourself.  Almost every emotion known to mankind can be found in this book.  As the reader, I feel these emotions along with each character - and very strongly, as though they were my own.  Each time I read it, it shocks me and I fall in love all over again.  And I know that soon, very soon, I will want to read it again.

Read some quotes from Scaramouche here.
Read my other reviews here.

1 comment:

  1. You've convinced me. Off to add it to my list. When people are as passionate about a book as you seem to be about this one, it's gotta be wroth reading.