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REVIEW: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Translator: Robin Buss
Kindle Edition
Challenges: Back to the Classics, Historical Fiction, Mount TBR

Goodreads synopsis: ‘On what slender threads do life and fortune hang’
Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If.  There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration.  Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.
Robin Buss’ lively translation is complete and unabridged, and remains faithful to the style of Dumas’ original.  This edition includes an introduction, explanatory notes and suggestions for further reading.

I have FINALLY finished The Count!!!!!!!  Hooray!

I enjoyed this very much.  Some spots were a little dry, but it was well-written and the translation was smooth.  In fact, for most of the book, I completely forgot that it was a translation.  The version I read had footnotes to explain some of the historical aspects when Dumas referenced certain events in history, which I thought was very helpful.  The one downside to reading this over such a long period of time (and especially with an almost 2 month gap of no reading it at all) was forgetting some of the details.  The only other thing that frustrated me with the story was the interchanging of names (first and last) and titles.  Once again, with a pause in reading I was a little rusty with which names and titles went together.

This is such a sad story of heartbreak, disappointment and most importantly, revenge. I tried to take notes while reading to remind myself of points I wanted to mention.  I ended up taking some notes in my earlier reading and none in the second “half” (using this term lightly, since I never actually broke it down in halves), so I may have more specific examples and things to say about the first half of the book, and will rely more on my memory for comments about the later parts of the book.  So bear with me! …

There is a profound sadness to Dantes elder, and it’s so heartbreaking to see his demise.  In truth, the whole Dantes family has such a crappy lot in life, and Edmond was the saving grace; until Villeforte decided he needed to make certain assurances for himself.

When Edmond discovered the plaster in his dungeon was soft enough to chip away, all I could think of was The Shawshank Redemption. Makes me wonder if this is where Stephen King got that idea?  I also remember The Count being mentioned in Shawshank Redemption. (“Shouldn’t this be filed under educational?” – paraphrasing of course!)

Edmond’s relationship with Abbe Faria was an interesting one, and it’s sad that it had to end the way it did.  At least they were each able to find some comfort and friendship during their incarceration.  And more importantly, Edmond got an education he would never have had otherwise.

The carnival in Italy sounds like a spectacle to behold.  I would love to witness something like it.  Though I bet seeing one nowadays with all the modern amenities may lose some of the old world charm. How descriptive and poetic is Dumas?!:

It was a veritable human storm made up of a thunder of voices and a hail of dragees, bouquets, eggs, oranges and flowers.

The moccoletti must have also been breathtaking to see.  To think, thousands of lights sent up into the night sky.  Dazzling!

(So I guess that’s end of my notes in the Kindle after all)

There are a lot of characters in this story and they all have hidden agendas.  They are all connected in some way and it’s the intricacies of their relationships that really move the story along.  Sometimes I wasn’t sure where the story was going, and especially starting up again after 2 months I had to remember who was who, who knew who, how they were related, etc. etc.  So I was a bit rusty getting back into it.

I had a feeling about everything going on with Valentine toward the end (I don’t want to give it away in case there is anyone out there who hasn’t read it yet, or is currently reading it!).  If it hadn’t happened that way, I would have been sorely disappointed, but then again I guess we would really see the casualties of revenge, no matter the intention of the avenger (revenger?).

The ending for Edmond and Mercedes kind of left a bitter taste, but I think that’s more because I have read a number of stories where everything gets wrapped up very neatly in a bow by the end.  The difference with this (and what I also think makes it better) is that it’s true human emotions, plotting, and in some instances downfall.  Life never has a pretty bow tied on it, and Dumas realized it and included it in this wonderful novel.

At one point, when the collateral damage began showing, I questioned whether The Count had gone too far, but it seems revenge is one of those things that can grow on its own, whether the avenger (revenger?) is prepared or not.  Clearly, aside from a single moment, he had no qualms about his path and truly believed he was God’s instrument to exact retribution.

All this talk of revenge makes me think of the TV show Revenge (which I thoroughly enjoy!)  And there are definitely some parallels to this story.  Anyone else watch it?


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