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Count of Monte Cristo – A Book Review

August 5, 2011

Of course you could just go to Wikipedia and get someone’s version of it, but I read the book and found it to be fascinating.  I read quite a bit and have 3-4 books going at all times.  Through this, I’ve learned to read fast and retain a good deal of information.  I’m constantly trying to figure out the plot before it ends, but I confess I didn’t succeed this time.

Originally, my son was assigned this book in school.  Being a typical high schooler, he didn’t work hard and complained a lot.  What got my attention was that he liked this book.  There are times (few) that I find him astute, but I recognize the potential in him and knew I was going to read it.

GOOD VS BAD

Written by Alexandre Dumas, père in 1844, the book has hero’s that are trampled upon (Edward Dantes, the protagonist) and villains who sent him to prison for a trumped up charges (Villefort, Fernand, Mercedes and random others ).  Good vs. evil always tugs at the heart strings to pull for the good guys.

After 14 years in prison, he ingeniously escapes after making friends with the Abbé Faria who was deemed mad for claiming to have millions.  Upon his dying bed, he bequeathed it all to Dantes who was unceremoniously tossed off the cliff while posing as the dead Abbe.   Fortunately he had a knife and set himself free.

Upon reaching the island of Monte Cristo, he discovered the massive fortune that did exist and changed his life.  From then on he lived like he wanted to, exploring where he wished, eating on the best and setting up the rest of the book for what is basically a revenge plot.  Dantes, who now has many aliases becomes for the most part the Count of Monte Cristo.

After learning the secrets of the above stated villans, he schemes to take them down for ruining his life, starving his father and losing his love, Mercedes (who later married Fernand the snake).

He gets his way and the villains are vanquished (or the Count helps them vanquish themselves) and revenge is exacted.

What is not fully explained is how he became so learned from a sailor and prisoner to a chemist, man of the world and just how he knows so much about who he is going make pay for his suffering.  It does describe a long period of time (appx. 24 years) to do it and how he developed his learning skills from the Abbe in prison, but it would have helped to understand some of the chemicals he used in his actions.  I do note that this doesn’t take away from the book, I just wanted more.

THE WARPED EUROPEANS

The book does expose the pontificous nature and pomp of the Europeans in that time period (not that they haven’t been for most of history).  Fortunately, it also exposes the fallible nature of this culture.  The class system is quite evident and appearance versus substance apparent.  I remind the critics of current times as they denigrate or try to convert the USA to their lifestyle and government that this is just what we wished to escaped from.  It is through this exposure to those times that history is revealed and relished.

OVERALL

The writing is excellent and builds as the book builds as it progresses, my favorite style of writing.  At the end I could hardly put it down.  I highly recommend it and it’s use of words not normally in our vocabulary anymore is brilliant.  If we could only go back to that language rather than the obnoxious rappers like a self deluded Kanye West – (especially when drunk in front of Taylor Swift and the rest of the world) and others of his league, we would be bringing up better and more learned children.  Fortunately, I listened to my son and benefited from it.  I’m grateful to have sent him to a school that teaches the classics such as this.

I don’t have a star rating, but I would give it one less than the best.  All should read it to better themselves and improve/understand good vocabulary, a good story and the struggles of man in good vs. evil.

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