Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Don't Judge A Book By Its Movie

Title: Scaramouche
By: Rafael Sabatini
Format: Paperback
Pages: 384
Genre: Historical Fiction/Classic
Date Started: Can't remember
Date Finished: May 19, 2009

Rating: B+

Description (from Barnes & Noble): Raised by a supposed "godfather," Andre'-Louis Moreau knows nothing about his background or his real parents—not even his real name. All he knows is that he wants vengeance against the vicious, arrogant aristocrat who brutally murdered his best friend. As France plummets into revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, Moreau's journey toward revenge takes him through several careers, from lawyer to fugitive to actor and playwright—and eventually to member of the French National Assembly. Hiding with a troupe of itinerant actors, he gleefully plays the traditional Commedia Dell-Arte role of Scaramouche, the trouble-making trickster who, like Shakespeare's fools and jesters, speaks painful truths disguised as harmless comedy.

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With Scaramouche, I took a risk. I bought it because I loved the movie. After all, who can resist an old-fashioned swashbuckler? But often, the movie and the book are two totally different experiences, and one is usually better than the other. It tends to be that the book is way better than the movie, *cough* Eragon *cough*. But occasionally the movie surpasses the book it is ever so loosely based on. Take Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and The Jane Austen Book Club. I loved those movies so much, and I had high hopes for the books. They were awful; they paled in comparison with their movies. What a waste of money!

So Scaramouche was indeed a venture. It's considered a classic, published in 1921, so I was a little worried about the language and the style, as I am not very fond of the 1920s writers. But I was very pleasantly surprised. The book and movie are very similar so the book was an exciting swashbuckler filled with romance, duels, intrigues, and surprise twists. Rafael Sabatini was exceptional at making his characters real and lifelike; I sympathised with the "bad guy" at one point, and he's a pretty cruel character. There were even some illustrations!

What neither the movie or the book description prepared me for was the politics. This book is full of the politics- speeches, assemblies, riots- leading to the French Revolution. I thought that by the time I finished this book, I would be the greatest orator ever. Lucky for me, I minored in political science and enjoyed the speeches and very biased arguments. If you're like me, you'll have no problem reading both the politics and the adventure together. But if you don't like politics or soapbox lectures or protests, do NOT read this book. B+

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