Monday, November 22, 2010

Review and Book Club Report: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Book: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Genre: Classic
Rating: A
For: Book Club
From: The library (though I do have my own extremely beat up copy too)
Version: Abridged! Ugh.

So, as I've been mentioning quite a bit lately, this was a re-read for me for book club this month. I read it the first time during high school and LOVED it. This time around, I loved it... meaning, it didn't seem to be quite as awesome as I remembered it the first time around. Not sure why. Maybe because it felt like I was missing something by not reading the unabridged version. I don't know. It could also be because this was the book I was reading during all the emotional upheaval our family has been experiencing this month, which made it very hard to really enjoy reading at all.

Again, a quick summary of the plot: Edmond Dantes, a very nice boy, has it all. That is, until his "friends" plot against him and he ends up at a very ruthless prison for life. Luckily, he happens upon a real friend there in the prison who teaches him all sorts of things and then actually tells him about the existence of a buried treasure. When he escapes, was we all know he does, he finds the treasure, reinvents himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, and plans his revenge against all those who sent him to jail in the first place. The plot gets quite complicated from there and you won't believe all the stuff that's happening!

And that's what I love about this book. The fun and crazy plot. The interweaving of all the people and stories. The bottom line theme of revenge and is it justified? And do the kids have to pay for their sins of their parents? And how far does one go for revenge? Ah, it's all fabulous stuff. And a timeless story. Definitely fits the description of  "classic."

Bottom line: I loved it... again.

What the book club thought:

It was interesting that the only people who actually finished this book where the ones that chose to read the big unabridged version. Out of the rest of us, several were almost done, or not quite done but planned to finish. Then there were a few who just didn't get into it and gave up after a couple hundred pages.

We spent a lot of time comparing the book and the movie, the 2002 version that I've been talking up too much lately. I know there are many versions of the movie, and I think some of them were made as a series, so they are probably much more true to the book, but this movie (that I still really enjoy,) is nothing like the book and we decided that we must think of them as completely different things and not related at all.  Then we can just be happy and forget it! However, I've decided that I really do need to watch some of those other versions and see what I think.

Differences are (SPOILER WARNING):

* there's no second generation for the Count to manipulate, except Albert, so all the secondary plots are discarded
* Fernand and Edmond are best friends
* Mercedes marries Fernand shortly after Edmond is arrested because she is pregnant
* Albert is his kid! WHAT?
* He gets back together with Mercedes. Ah, I like this ending, really I do.
* All the people that help the count with his revenge plans are melded into one character, Jacopo.

We talked a lot about the differences in the two book versions also, and what we may have perhaps missed in our abridged version. I think we missed much of the detailed back story, and some description of places they go, and I'm really afraid we may have missed some writing style too. That's the part that really bugs me the most. We also talked about the differences in translations, which can be quite an interesting comparison.

Some people felt like there needed to be more time to get invested in the character of Edmond before he was arrested and hauled off in order to care about what happens to him in the remainder of the book. We discussed this for awhile, trying to decide if we felt for him and whether or not his plans were justified or not. Also, if he changed is mind about what he was doing, and at what point. Like I said before, I really think he a fascinating character, no matter where you stand on this whole issue.

Anyway, I really think everyone enjoyed the experience for the most part, and were happy we chose this book.


  1. Despite being a tome of a novel, it remains one of my all time favourite reads. Edmund is a fascinating character and he does evolve in this story..

  2. Glad I haven't seen this movie version. Sounds like it would have driven me nuts! Mercedes pregnant? No way.

  3. I love how you update us on the Book Group opinions and the conversation. What a great way to feel involved and share your ideas. What's the next read??? Our group is reading The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King and I'm amazed that I haven't read it before now.

    Did you watch Josh on Oprah today? I was at school but I am definitely going to next!

    Thanks for sharing your insight...

  4. Inside.... Oh CRAP! I totally forgot about Josh being on Oprah today! Dang. Here's hoping it's on Youtube or or somewhere!!

  5. Oh man, I had to read this for school. I remember liking it but it being the biggest book I had ever read at the time (7th grade). I wonder what I'd think now.

  6. Great review Suey, but I still am questioning whether or not I should go unabridged or abridged. Hmmm...maybe audiobook. Geesh...the choices. :)
    Thanks though because I now want to read this book even more than I have in the past. I think I may start it in January or February...I think it may be a good winter read. :)

  7. I listened to the audio book of this last month (unabridged) and though I enjoyed it, it was ridiculously long. Your right that the movie is TOTALLY different - it's good, but a different story all together.



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