September 09, 2003

The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexander Dumas

It would be hard to summarize the plot of this book adequately in a paragraph without completely butchering it since the text runs, in the Oxford World Classic Edition, to 1,095 pages without including the notes, the biographical information or the tedious and obligatory forward by a literature professor. I will try.

Essentially, it's a tale of revenge. Edmond Dantes is falsely accused of treason on the eve of his wedding to the beautiful Catalan, Mercedes. I won't go into details about how or why. He ends up in the Chateau d'If, in solitary where he goes thru a cycle of confusion, anger and despair. The Abbe Faria tunnels his way into Dantes' cell and over the next ten years teaches him everything he knows. He also tells him the secret of the Isle of Monte Cristo, containing an enormous treasure. Dantes escapes from the prison, again, I won't say how, and finds the treasure. He then goes about exacting his revenge armed with unlimited wealth on everyone who had anything to do with his imprisonment, which actually comprises most of the book.

It's not light or easy reading. There is so much detail that sometimes the minute plot twists are not apparent. Read originally as a serial, which is how it was originally published, that may have been easier to deal with. However, I enjoyed it completely. I waffled from liking the Count and feeling sorry for him to thinking him a complete jerk, especially in the bits with Mercedes or Haydee. There were parts that were just a little too fantastic to be believable and I thought the end, which I am not going to divulge, just a bit too neat and tidy for a revenge novel. Overall, however, it was a rollicking good tale that I was sorry to finish.

Posted by Deb English at September 9, 2003 08:03 PM