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The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel Paperback – June 5, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

Have you ever wanted to relive, even rewrite, your favorite novel? I did. I had re-read the classic adventure romance The Scarlet Pimpernel (Baroness Orczy, 1905) after many years, thanks to's recommendations service, and I was fascinated with the conflict between the main characters. I began imagining how they might resolve their dilemma, and next thing I knew I had 50,000 words of story that included a brand new adventure for Sir Percy and his band. I added a frame, and The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel was born. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

About the Author

C. P. Lesley, a historian, is also the author of the Tarkei Chronicles (Desert Flower and Kingdom of the Shades) and of The Golden Lynx and The Winged Horse, the first two books in Legends of the Five Directions, a series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible--a time full of unrest, war, and cut-throat politics. She is currently working on Legends 3, The Swan Princess. The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel is her 21st-century take on Baroness Orczy's classic adventure romance The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Five Directions Press (June 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615650147
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615650142
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,276,101 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

As a child, C. P. Lesley thought everyone told themselves stories to help themselves fall asleep. It never occurred to her that anyone would pay her for them, and for a long time, she was right--no one would. But after years of producing horrible prose, reading books about novel writing, and pestering hapless fellow-writers and friends to read her drafts, some of the advice stuck, and she finished "The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel," followed by "The Golden Lynx" and "The Winged Horse."

She is currently working on the next book in the Legends of the Five Directions series, "The Swan Princess" (3: North), to be followed by "The Vermilion Bird" (4: South), and "The Shattered Drum" (5: Center). When not thinking up new ways to torture her characters, she edits other people's manuscripts, reads voraciously, maintains her website, and takes classes in classical ballet. That love of ballet also finds expression in her Tarkei Chronicles series, which so far consists of "Desert Flower" and "Kingdom of the Shades." If she ever finishes the Legends series, she plans to write "Corsair," a third Tarkei Chronicle featuring Choli, the child whose finding of a pair of ballet shoes sets up the series, as an adult.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Christie on July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As soon as I read a blurb about THE NOT EXACTLY SCARLET PIMPERNEL, I knew I wanted to read it. THE SCARLET P. is one of my all-time favorite historical novels, with a great mix of romance and derring-do. C.P. Lesley came up with the wonderful concept of allowing modern-day students to take part in a reenactment of TSP that would literally involve them in the action, thanks to the sort of industrial magic that made Andy Serkis into Gollum. The first-person narrator, Ninel Pennington, swans around in the body, costume, and milieux of her character, Marguerite, but also has Marguerite talking to her in her head. Will Marguerite be able to overcome the aloofness of her husband, Sir Percy Blakeney? Will the Scarlet Pimpernel escape the clutches of the villain, Chauvelin? We're not sure, because the "actors" now have the power to change the plot. It's all very well done, and Ninel's own story parallels Marguerite's with Sir Percy very nicely. I'd like to see more from this author. Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kate Martyn, author on February 3, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Intelligently written, exciting, suspenseful, pacy, funny, poignant, sigh-inducingly romantic – and clean. What’s not to like?

The Scarlet Pimpernel with a pinch of Georgette Heyer – what could possibly go wrong? Sadly, having endured the frequently execrable purple prose of Baroness Orczy herself more than once for love of Sir Percy Blakeney, and having sampled a few modern offerings that claim to be in the style of Heyer, I can tell you – plenty.

So let me firstly say that I particularly enjoyed that the author has picked up Baroness Orczy’s – let’s call it dated to be kind, but it really is awful even for 1905 – florid and cliché-riddled writing style, and the many plot holes, inconsistencies and omissions in The Scarlet Pimpernel, and run with them. It is these very flaws that very cleverly provide the opportunities for the competitors in the virtual reality game to recast the story to their advantage. Nice to know I wasn’t the only one bothered by the inconsistencies in the original, and hats off to Lesley for such an ingenious way of getting over the issues!

I certainly recognise a cracking good romance when I read it but I wouldn’t have a clue about the validity of the science behind the virtual reality set-up. It all made sufficient sense for it not to be a problem for me, though. I’ve seen docos on CG animation that seem impossible.

Now you could be picky and question whether a university history professor would ask such a thing of his students (those of my acquaintance wouldn’t know a virtual reality game if it hit them in the face – if a virtual reality game could do that?). And they certainly wouldn’t admit to knowing The Scarlet Pimpernel inside out. But hey, this is romance, OK? Move along, haters.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Thomas-Nobles on October 3, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Before I tell Amazon readers what I think of C.P. Lesley's book, I have to make a confession. Somehow in all the years of schooling...and thereafter...I never read "The Scarlet Pimpernel." Of course, I have always known it is a classic. Of course it is required reading for many students throughout the world, in many different languages. Of course, I always said to myself, "Someday I've got to read that book." Well, life happened. Never read it.

So. An author whose works I thoroughly enjoy wrote an "allegedly" historical novel based on "The Scarlet Pimpernel." I bought it, but due to life stuff happening, didn't begin to read it until early this week. Working my way through the book's early pages, I wondered how this was going to relate to the famous protagonist because it seemed to be set in contemporary times.

Well, I kept on reading, figuring that eventually the connection to French Revolution times would become clear. It did. Big time! I was totally unprepared, stunned actually, for how Ms. Lesley crafted the story about one of the most turbulent times in European history, using the framework of a classic novel in an absolutely ingenious way. I won't spoil the surprise, but just imagine a Star Trek Holo-Deck experience merged with "The Scarlet Pimpernel" and be prepared for one surprise after another. It was difficult to stop reading because I just had to know what crazy thing was going to happen next!

The thought has crossed my mind that, having read "The Not So Scarlet Pimpernel," reading the original story might be a let-down. I may never read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By SEE on June 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
C.P. Lesley has successfully mated a romantic adventure with cutting-edge science fiction without befogging the reader with ether technobabble nor the stilted language of 18th-century heros. Her unique slant on total immersion VR is a treat and would alone earn my recommendation. That she brings the period alive makes this a must-read for fans of the Pimpernel.

Placed into the body of France's most beautiful actress, our heroine (a Ph.D candidate) first dismisses her host as a birdbrained fool but soon comes to think of her as a sister. Together the two must work with the period's most swashbuckling hero to defeat the darkest villain of post-revolutionary France. Not to mention, win the game and her teacher's respect.

If you're not into "chic lit" then know that the humor of a 21st-century graduate student trapped in the mannered world of 18th-century Europe is priceless. Adventure, romance, humor--an unbeatable combination.

The down side? The occasional French phrases are like little stumbling blocks for those of us not fluent in the language. But you can ignore them without losing any of the story. On the other hand, you can look them up and build your vocabulary.

It is important to note that you don't need to have read The Scarlet Pimpernel (by Baroness Orczy, 1905) to enjoy Lesley's book but it does help. Things get more interesting when the VR explorers step away from Orczy's plot and have to improvise. This is where Lesley shines.
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