The Count of Monte Cristo – Review

Book: The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Year: 1844
Bookhad Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Sinbad the Sailor. Lord Wilmore. Abbé Faria. The Count of Monte Cristo. Yeah, they’re all the same. 

I had read this book around 4 years ago.

I found it inside my eldest’s desk, sitting atop Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock and Dumas’ name clicked as someone who I heard about (hadn’t heard of Pope) so I simply picked it up. It was a pretty thick book, and I had no reason to suspect that it’s a lie and finished it in a week’s time.

Just last year I happened to come across the ebook version and upon inspecting it I saw that it’s a mammoth of a book running into more than a 1000 pages!

Unknowingly, I had read an abridged copy and truly believed it to be one of the best revenge drama ever written. After cursing myself for not making sure about what I read before I read things, I decided to finish a book that I should’ve finished 4 years ago.

Moral wounds have this peculiarity –
they may be hidden,
but they never close; always painful,
always ready to bleed when touched,
they remain fresh and open in the heart.

The Counte of Monte Cristo is one of my all time favourites among the many revenge dramas I’ve read. Honesty, Love, Passion, Perseverance and Revenge along with good old Prison Break! 

Edmund Dantes is an honest man. An upright individual who believes in the path of toil and hard work being the sole criterion of the good Gods anointing a person to a good fate. He is a merchant sailor working with Morrel and Sons which belongs to Pierre Morrel, another honest individual. Dantes is looking forward to his captainship, promised by Morrel, of the ship and to marrying his sweetheart, Mercedes.

Enter Danglers and Fernand Mondego. The former is the jealous juniour officer of the Pharaon, the ship on which Dantes has been promised Captainship, while the latter is the Catalan cousin of Mercedes and a lover whose love isn’t returned in the same degree by the child like Mercedes who loves Fernand as any girl would love a cousin.

Danglers and Fernand conspire and get Dantes jailed for being a traitor to the King and having Bonapartist tendencies. Danglers was aware that Dantes was consigned with some items from the old captain of The Pharaon, Leclere, an open Bonapartist, to be delivered to General Bertrand, who was exiled along with Napoleon himself, on the island of Elba. The General in turn hands him a letter to be handed over to an man in Paris.

Danglers plays a game of chance.

Dantes is at his wedding luncheon when the police comes and drags him away. Believing to be a mere formality or  misunderstanding he wilfully goes expecting to return to the luncheon and his wedding wows. Villefort, the magistrate who receives Dantes in his chamber inquires about the items to which Dantes readily accepts, not knowing the contents. When the letter was opened by Villefort he is aghast with worry and fear. The recipient of the letter is none other than Noirtier, his own father and a staunch Bonapartist!

The difference between treason and patriotism is only a matter of dates.

As luck would have it, Dantes’ fate needed only that one nail in his coffin to be rendered dead.

Villefort, faking understanding and solidarity to Dantes burns the letter after telling him that it implicated him falsely. Dante, still unaware of the letter readily believes and awaits the call that would set him free.

Instead, he is transported to Chateau d’if, an impregnable fortress of a prison.

Dantes is imprisoned for 14 years.

6 years into the tenure of the prison term, he befriends a ‘mad’ priest, Abbe Faria who has spent the best part of his life trying to bribe his gaolers with riches and gold beyond their imaginations. Hence, the term ‘mad’ priest. Abbe Faria has also spent time trying to dig a hole in the prison cell and it is via this tunnel that he meets Dantes. Dantes learns everything that the sagacious Abbe has to teach him and that includes the location of the treasure.

Replacing himself in the sack with the dead Faria’s body, Dantes manages to escape Chateau d’if. 

The best laid revenge plan is afoot.

How did I escape? With difficulty. How did I plan this moment? With pleasure.

Dantes reinvents himself as The Count of Monte Cristo, the small island where the Abbe had told him of the treasure’s presence and steps into the Parisian society as a rich, idiosyncratic noble man with a set of rules that would make a person balk with fear or weep with humility. The Count finds out that Danglers has bought himself the title of Baron and that Fernand has fashioned himself as Count de Morcerf and married Mercedes. His other opponents he slowly ensnares in his friendship before planning their end in the most poetic and dramatic manner.

This entire planning and execution of The Count makes for the best revenge books ever. He plans a path for every person that had resulted in his imprisonment and prevention of his wedding to Mercedes. His plans are circuitous at best, but therein lies the deviousness of the Counts plans. Readers will readily agree to the righteousness of The Count’s planning and will also cheer for victory along the journey of this magnificent book. Revenge is good. Righteous revenge is better. Righteous revenge coupled with passionate love and adoration is best.

The book sails at a comfortable pace for a lover of thrillers. It has the right amount of every needed ingredient of a quick page turner. I never expected a book written in the mid 1800’s to be such a badass. But then, I was daft when I read it first. So daft that I didn’t really realise that it’s an abridged version.

Like Dickens, Dumas makes sure we have enough attributes of the characteristic of a person that leads us to hate or love a character. Dantes’ honesty; Mercedes innocent love; Danglers’ lust for money; Fernand’s jealousy that leads him to his end and the entire Morrel’s family’s upright honesty and straight-as-an-arrow approach to everyday problems make it easy to love or hate them.

I give it an easy 5 start victory and with comfortable assurance that readers of this epic novel would never be disappointed at the many twists, turns and sharp literary exclamations. This trick inundated novel has a bit for everyone. Dialogues are simple, scenarios resonate well with the physical apparition of the next plan set up by the Count and characters are well depicted for easy slotting as good or bad.


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