A very long swashbuckler – Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

countOh my goodness, if I had realised how long this book was I might not have started.   I was a third of the way through my kindle version, only to then see the huge doorstop version in a bookshop but I was committed to finishing, I eventually managed it and then discovered the  version I had read was abridged!!  I can’t work out what my version must have left out as it seemed a pretty thorough version to me.

I first came across this book after hearing about the life story of Dumas,  which could be seen to be even more interesting than the novel.  His grandfather was a French aristocrat who became a Napoleon supporter, his grandmother a black slave from Haiti.  His father, a marquis and his mother  was the daughter of an inn keeper, therefore Dumas really was a  product of  Revolutionary and Napoleonic France. This interesting historical context is reflected in the book and is one of the most enjoyable features for me.

The Count of Monte Cristo is basically Dumas’ rip off of  an earlier French story.  Edmond Dantes is wrongfully arrested as a Napoleonic spy due to his betrayal by  jealous friends,  and sentenced to imprisonment in the Chateau D’If .  Whilst imprisoned he meets the Abbé Faria who tells  Edmond where to find a massive buried fortune.  After fourteen harsh years Edmond makes a dramatic escape, discovers the treasure and returns as the mysterious Count of Monte Cristo to take revenge.  Amazingly, none of his betrayers recognise him and he begins his plan of vengeance against  the four men who had caused him to be sent to the Chateau D’If.

The ending was definitely  not what I was expecting for a novel of this period,  I can see why was controversial when it was first written in the 19th century.  The Catholic church in France condemned it because of its  themes of revenge and vengeance but maybe this is just what makes it so interesting, probably would not read it again though.

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