The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Genre: Classic, Adventure, Historical Fiction
"Set against the tumultuous years of the post-Napoleonic era, Dumas's grand historical romance recounts the swashbuckling adventures of Edmond Dantes, a dashing young sailor falsely accused of treason. The story of his long imprisonment, dramatic escape, and carefully wrought revenge offers up a vision of France that has become immortal.
As Robert Louis Stevenson declared, 'I do not believe there is another volume extant where you can breathe the same unmingled atmosphere of romance.'"
Whew! After a month of reading, I finally finished this novel! And what a delight it was. So much happens in this book: sword-fights, poisoning, happy and neglected romances, treason, kidnapping, that I couldn't wait to sit down and see where Dumas would take me each day.
The main character, Edmond Dantes, who later becomes the Count, is a thoroughly enjoyable character with many faces. I did get frustrated a few times because the reader grows close to the protagonist in the first half of the book, but in the later half or more, the reader spends much more time around the other characters. I would have liked to be in the Count's head more, but I am also glad I met the other characters. The revenge and suspense was that much sweeter, and the author kept me on my toes like the other poor characters.
Although this is a classic, the translation I read was fairly easy to follow. I read the unabridged version and highly suggest others to do the same because the action and ending is well worth the extra pages. There are a few stories in here that seem random and too long, but hang in there, because they are important. Besides, I found them pretty interesting, especially since one centers on a murder. There are a lot of names in here, and since they're so different than ours, it might help to make a list. Thankfully, though, the list of characters is much less that that in Charles Dicken's books.
If you've watched the movie based on this book, I highly recommend you reading the novel; there's so much more, and it's so deliciously suspenseful and action-packed! Be warned, the ending in the novel is different than that in the movie, but just as good, if not better. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then read the book first. The movie is good, but much shallower compared to the novel (of course :).
This book has moved up into my favorites list, and thus, I give it novel a 4.5 out of 5 and recommend it for 16 year olds and up because of the length.
What I learned: Revenge belongs to God alone and in the end doesn't bring satisfaction. The wealthy in France during this time traveled much and had a distinct code of behavior.
One of my favorite quotes: "Hatred is blind; rage carries you away, and he who pours out vengeance runs the risk of tasting a bitter draught."