I love my Kindle…correction–Jim’s Kindle…but it would ever so nice if I could actually see how many pages were in the books I’m reading! I knew “The Count of Monte Cristo” was long, but I didn’t realize the unabridged version was that long. Nevertheless, I’m glad I read the book as it puts the film (starring James Caviezel) I enjoyed so much to shame.
Because the movie had to be whittled down so significantly, major parts of the story are either cut altogether or totally altered. For example, in the film, the Count (Edmond Dantes) ends up dueling with one of his main adversaries, discovers he has a son, and is reunited with the love of his life to live happily ever after. In the original version, however, Dantes doesn’t have to lift a finger to exact revenge on his enemies. He is so calculating that his seemingly benign actions cause his enemies to self-destruct. As for a son, Dantes “adopts” the eldest son of his former boss, a man who worked tirelessly to see Dantes released from his wrongful imprisonment. As for living happily ever after, the remnants of love that exist between Dantes and Mercedes can be felt in their brief interactions, but is never rekindled. Instead, Dantes has the pleasure of living out the remainder of his life with a Greek princess whom he rescued from slavery.
The book can be broken down into three sections: imprisonment, plotting revenge, and exacting revenge. The first and third are terribly interesting and go by quickly, despite the lengthy dialogues throughout. The second, however, proved confusing and difficult to follow as a multitude of characters are introduced and extended conversations occur that seem to have no real point or purpose. After that lull, all of the unrelated details find their meaning and purpose as we see Edmond Dantes make use of them to his advantage and to the detriment of his enemies.
One of the more touching scenes where we see the old gentle and sympathetic Dantes begin to break through the impermeable wall of his Count of Monte Cristo persona is when Dantes mourns the fact that his revenge has gone too far–the lives of six people in the home of the lawyer (Villefort) who imprisoned Dantes are lost to poison, the lawyer has a high-profile case to seek the death penalty against a criminal who turns out to be his own son, and he is forced to resign his position as the king’s attorney. Sounds like a pretty bad day to me! The members of the Villefort family provide the most interesting scenes and chapters, especially those between Valentine and her mute, paralyzed grandfather Noitier.
If you’re thinking “Wow, Ally, thanks for ruining that for me,” think again! This book is so long and so painstakingly detailed that whatever beans I just spilled are sure to be forgotten by the time you reach this point in the book. I enjoyed this book so much, I may have to read “The Three Musketeers” later this year. That one’s only 700 pages 🙂