I picked up Audrey Erskine Lindop's 1961 novel The Way to the Lantern
at the Traveler Restaurant (the Connecticut diner that stocks books to give away) a few months back, solely based on the fact that it had a bright red cover with the words "A NOVEL OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION" emblazoned on it. Last week I finally started reading it.
By the time I got five pages in, the protagonist, a prisoner sentenced to death by the Revolution, had already:
- complained about the fact that everyone else slated for execution is being annoyingly noble and nonchalant about it
- complained vociferously about the fact that he’s slated to be executed under the wrong name
- been required to prove his identity by flashing his uniquely-scarred ass at the Tribunal (one cheek was bitten by a dog and has never recovered)
- protested to the Tribunal - who think he is a Viscomte in hiding, and do not believe that he is a real actor because the secret policeman who saw him on stage officially reported back that he was unbelievably bad - that he IS a real actor, he’s actually a GREAT actor, he was just TIRED that day
- managed to stave off execution due to the fact, in addition to the committee that wants to execute him for being a Viscomte in hiding, there’s ANOTHER committee that wants to execute him for being a spying Englishman and they cannot agree on who's right
At this point I almost stopped reading because this was already basically a perfect book and things could only go downhill from here. The Way to the Lantern
is essentially a reverse Scarlet Pimpernel: instead of being a brilliant mastermind with twelve identities which are never connected by the Revolutionary authorities, Our Hero is a completely irrelevant actor named Roberts who, through a series of poor decisions and unlucky catastrophes, accidentally has the Revolutionary authorities convinced that he is a brilliant mastermind with twelve identities. ( Collapse )
Anyway I am now obviously planning to seek out everything else Audrey Erskine Lindop has ever written, so LOOK FORWARD TO MORE OF THAT.This entry is cross-posted at Livejournal from http://skygiants.dreamwidth.org/469906.html. Please feel free to comment here or there! There are currently comments on Dreamwidth.