16 August 2009

The Count of Monte Cristo

Sailor Edmond Dantès has it all. He has just been named captain of the Pharaon, he is going to marry the love of his life, Mercédès, and he is beloved by everyone who knows him. Then Edmond is denounced as a Bonapartist agent. In 1815 France, this is a serious charge of treason, but it is not true. Edmond is no servant of Napoleon. Someone has falsely accused him, but who? Nevertheless, Edmond is imprisoned in the notorious Château D’If in solitary confinement. After a daring escape from prison, Edmond assumes the identity of the mysterious and fantastically wealthy Count of Monte Cristo. Edmond is determined to make those responsible for his suffering pay. But will Edmond take his quest for vengeance too far?

The Count of Monte Cristo is arguably one of the world's best-known revenge tales, for good reason. Edmond’s elaborate plan for revenge is entertaining and satisfying. There’s just something reassuring about a good revenge story – it’s so nice to see the really bad guys get their justly-deserved comeuppance. Edmond Dantès is also one of my favorite characters in literature - it’s very easy to sympathize with him. The poor guy goes through a lot of pain and misery, but he still retains his ethics and code of honor. I also really enjoyed following his transformation from simple, humble Edmond Dantès to the dashing, manipulative Count of Monte Cristo. As the Count, Dantès is clever and witty – a formidable opponent for those whom he is paying back. Author Alexandre Dumas’s writing style, though melodramatic at times, is also easy to follow. Although this was written in 1844-1845, The Count of Monte Cristo is not a hard book to read.

As much as I enjoyed this story, I did have a few issues with it. My biggest problem: This book is a mammoth! The version I read was 1,462 pages long. I don’t mind long books, but I thought this caused The Count of Monte Cristo to have very uneven pacing. The opening part (which details Edmond’s arrest, imprisonment, and escape) was very good and held my interest, as did the chapters that record Edmond’s extensive game of cat-and-mouse with his enemies. But this book has a lot of subplots, and I found these distracting. (For example, after Edmond’s escape, the story abruptly switches to a young French noble named Franz and his adventures in Italy, and while Edmond’s wreaking havoc on the minds of his enemies, there is a lot of attention given to the secret love affair of one of his friends with one of his enemies’ daughters.) These side stories do eventually tie back into the revenge part of the story, but I thought the parts with Edmond were the most powerful. Whenever the story veered away from Edmond, I became a little exasperated because he was the character I found the most interesting. In all fairness to Dumas, he does make most of these other scenes interesting, so it’s not really painful to have to read them – it just irked me somewhat.

Despite my problem with the pacing, I thought The Count of Monte Cristo was an enjoyable read. The story is exciting and engrossing (particularly Edmond’s ingenious escape from prison), and Edmond Dantès is a character who is well-worth getting acquainted with. Don’t let the length of this novel intimidate you. The Count of Monte Cristo is a grand epic that is well worth your time.


  1. This book was too slow for me. Sorry, Dumas. The movie was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Loved the actors, the story, everything was amazing.
    Granted; this is a classic story and well-weaved, but as you said, it was exasperating.
    On a similar note, Monte Cristo sandwiches are really good. (Randomness!)

  2. Scott, yeah this book is really slow at times. (I would see that one of the chapters was going to be on Maximilian and Valentine and I would sigh.)You might like one fo the abridged versions.

    Which movie version did you watch? The one with Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, and Richard Harris is excellent!

    What's this about a Monte Cristo sandwich...?

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  4. I meant of, not fo. (Then I mispelled meant. Today is not my day to spell correctly...) :D

  5. Yes, the movie with Jim Caviezel. Definitely excellent. :D
    The Monte Cristo sandwich is an italian sandwich with jelly on top. Full of vinegar and spices and stuff; really good. :D

  6. Oh, I know, isn't that movie amazing!?

    I will have to try this Monte Cristo sandwich - I am now hungry! :D

  7. I have a copy of this book but it's not a thousand pages, my mum says it's cause it's translated, but I'm wondering if it's abridged? what do you think?
    I love the Jim Caviezel version too, Scott!

  8. Adeline, I'm thinking it must be an abridged copy because technically all of them are translated. Then again, you may have a different translation than the one I read.

    I think an abridged copy of this novel would probably be more fun to read - because it wouldn't be quite as involved. Did you like it? :)

    And thanks for following! :)