Monday, February 21, 2011

I Will Repay by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

i will repay cover

Dear Ms. Orczy (or should I say, Baroness):

I enjoyed The Scarlet Pimpernel (who hasn't?) and looked forward to reading this follow-up, especially as it involved new characters and promised more of a romance-driven plot. However, after reading about half of the book, I started to get more than a little pissed at you, and here's why:

I hate Juliette.

I knew I was going to find her annoying after she fainted in the first chapter, and I definitely disliked her after realizing she was an air head in chapter two, but how dare you try to convince me to root for that evil bitch. You see, actions speak louder than words, and the Victorian drivel you threw at me about how she felt really really bad giving Paul Déroulède's name to the Committee for Public Safety after he saved her from a Parisian mob and let her and her maid live in his house for weeks on end failed to convince me that she was justified in her actions. I don't care if he killed her brother; as he explained to her, it was duel and a fair fight for which he'd already made amends. And if Juliette was at all capable of thinking instead of being a shallow brat, perhaps she'd be able to reach the conclusion that, hey, maybe her insane megalomaniac father shouldn't have even asked her to avenge her brother's death. But she didn't, because she isn't. And that's because you wrote her that way. I can never believe that Juliette would act any way other for her own self-interests, and I could never like her.

I could deal with Juliette, however, if she wasn't the "heroine" of this book. Anne Mie is smarter and a better person than Juliette is, but she's not the heroine. Why? Because she's not beautiful. And Déroulède falls in love with Juliette, whyyyy? Hint: it's not because of her sparkling wit. Yes, because she's beautiful! So basically Juliette is an awful person who just happens to be attractive, and Anne Mie is a great person who just happens to be unattractive, and yet I'm supposed to root for Juliette in this scenario and feel like Anne Mie's the villain? In what bizarro world are you living, woman???  I can't help but think of how much better this book would be if Déroulède realized there's nothing rattling around in Juliette's empty head--or soul--and that Anne Mie really was worthy of love, even if she wasn't pretty.

At least the heroine in The Scarlet Pimpernel had brains.

Don't even get me started on Déroulède. At first he seemed pretty awesome, but the fact that he falls in love with Juliette makes him officially too stupid to live. Not to mention that afterward he's all, "Oh, I wonder if I'll ever find out who betrayed me!" Yeahhhh, it's probably the person everyone (and by everyone I mean those who are borderline intelligent and actually care about you, like Anne Mie and Percy Blakeney) has been telling you is untrustworthy, namely the "saint" you're crushing on, helloooo. If Déroulède's such an idealist he should be able to look beyond a person's outer appearance and judge their character, don't you think? But maybe he doesn't think women have inner characters.

So, thank you, Baroness, for reinforcing the stereotype that all a woman needs in life is good looks. I don't know what happened with this book, but I get the feeling you betrayed yourself with the whole Juliette/Anne Mie thing. At the very least, I felt betrayed as a reader. I would tell you to go to hell but there's not much point in saying that to a dead person.

Sincèrement, moi.

Musical Notes: "Better than Revenge" by Taylor Swift

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