Monday, February 25, 2013

The Re-Education of a Book Lover - Part Four - The Count of Monte Cristo

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. Recently, however, it has come to my attention that there are some G A P I N G holes in my literary education. For example: I have read every Austen and Bronte you can get your hands on, but somehow had never managed to read a Charles Dickens novel in its entirety. So, with a little help from my mom, the English Teacher, and a couple of good friend, the English Majors, I am setting a course to re-educate myself by filling in some of those gaps.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
first published 1844

Synopsis -

One of the most exciting and best-loved novels of all time, The Count of Monte Cristo is a timeless tale of endurance, courage, and revenge. Falsely accused of treason, the young sailor Edmond Dantïs is arrested on his wedding day and imprisoned on an island fortress. After years of solitary confinement in a cramped, dank dungeon, he befriends an Italian prisoner who, with his dying breath, reveals the location of a vast treasure on the island of Monte Cristo. Dantïs stages a daring and dramatic escape, retrieves this fabulous fortune, and returns to France to exact revenge on his enemies, posing as the Count of Monte Cristo. Dantïs pursues his vengeance to the bitter end, only then realizing that he himself is a victim of fate.

My thoughts -

First of all, I am in love with reading classics via audiobook. If you are interested in starting to read more classics, I strongly encourage you to give the audiobook  format a try. It has made some of these challenging novels so much more accessible for me - I am honestly looking forward to reading them for the first time. 

Now, on to the novel - holy cow, don't mess with Edmond Dantis! I don't know if this would be considered the grandfather of all revenge tales, but it is certainly one of the great ones. I was, once again, surprised at the ease of the language - I have a preconception that all "classics" will be hard to read, but this flowed along very easily. I think much of that ease is due to choosing the audiobook format, but I am also learning that classics are not nearly as intimidating as I'd thought they would be. I was especially happy to be listening to this story that takes place in France and Italy, so that I didn't have to try to figure out in my own head how to pronounce all the names!

It was fascinating to watch all the pieces of this complicated puzzle fall into place, as each of the Count's enemies was brought to his own specific type of justice. There was also interesting political and cultural machinations going on, and just enough love story to satisfy the romantic in me. There were a few places that I didn't quite understand what was going on, but nothing that ruined my enjoyment of this extremely entertaining novel.

I checked this audiobook out from my local library, and unfortunately didn't pay enough attention to which copy I selected, so I don't know the name of the wonderful narrator, but he was just right for this novel. It was an interesting recording - I suspect it was old, and it certainly would not be up to the high standards of most of today's recordings - there were several times that background noise, including traffic, were clearly audible as the narrator was reading. I would love to see a better quality recording made with this same excellent narrator.

Once again, my journey with the classics is delightful. This novel was fun and entertaining, with lots of interesting history and politics thrown in as well. I highly recommend this one if you like a good thriller - and if you like to see people get what's coming to them!

Finished - 2/20/13
Source - South side library
MPAA rating - PG-13 for revenge-y-ness
My rating - 8/10


Zibilee said...

I read this one so long ago, but it's really an unforgettable book. I am so glad that you enjoyed it too! I have listened to several audiobooks that have had funny noises in the background, and they tend to be older recordings. Once I listened to one where the narrator kept breathing with a whistle out of his nose, and it just cracked me up!

meggo said...

We recently moved to a college town where the "great books" are a big deal. I have a lot of catch-up to do too! I love you comment about listening to the audio versions of these books. A great tip I am going to take advantage of!

Elizabeth said...

@Heather - that's hilarious! I'm loving the audiobook, but I have a feeling a bad narrator will bring me to a crashing halt.

@Meggo - I don't think I'll ever get caught up, but listening makes it a lot more enjoyable.