I decided to have another go at reading The Count Of Monte Cristo. I first attempted it about ten years ago but got distracted by another book (I can’t remember which one) and never went back to read the rest. I’ve learned since then that I’m really not the sort of person who can read two books at once. I’m too easily side-tracked. I need to focus on one book at a time, and one book only, or one of them will inevitably be side-tracked in favour of the other. I’m in awe of those people who can have several novels on the go at the same time. How do they do it?
There are one hundred and seventeen chapters in The Count Of Monte Cristo. That’s quite a lot. They’re not terribly long chapters but it’s still not a short book by anyone’s standards. Rather than leave the blog hanging for weeks on end while I read, I thought I’d post several shorter updates as I go along. I might still do my usual final review at the end as a summary but we’ll see how things go. I may have decided that I’m well and truly sick of it by then!
The book begins in February 1815. We’re introduced to Edmond Dantes, a nineteen year old merchant sailor returning to his Marseilles home with the world at his feet. He’s about to be promoted to Captain, the beautiful Mercedes has accepted his marriage proposal and he’s loved and adored by all who know him….. almost. Among those who are jealous of his good fortune are his fellow sailor Danglar and Fernand Mondego, Mercedes’ love-struck cousin.
“Danglars was one of those calculating men who are born with a pen behind their ear and an inkwell instead of a heart, To him, everything in this world was subtraction or multiplication, and a numeral was much dearer than a man, when it was a numeral that would increase the total (while a man might decrease it)…“
Danglar manipulates Fernand into denouncing Dantes as a traitor. As a result Dantes is arrested during his betrothal feast and dragged before the prosecutor, Gerard Villefort. Villefort can clearly see that Dantes is the victim of a foul plot but, rather than risk his own reputation by becoming embroiled in what turns out to be a genuine Bonapartist conspiracy, he sacrifices the innocent man to a long imprisonment in the notorious Chateau D’If.
I’m currently only about fourteen chapters in so there isn’t a great deal worth commenting on at the moment. Dantes hasn’t been desperately interesting so far and I suspect all that goodnatured joyfulness would have become a little boring if allowed to continue. It was enough to make me almost look forward to his ruin. At this stage, after an imprisonment of several months, he still thinks it’s all been a horrible mistake and that Villefort will have him released eventually. Hopefully he’ll become a bit more exciting once he’s had time to suffer and dwell on the details a bit more.
I’d forgotten how easy to read Dumas’ books can be. They’re so readable that you can almost forget you’re reading an epic nineteenth century masterpiece of French literature. There are few lengthy descriptions, lots of engaging dialogue and the action starts immediately on page one. So far it’s been pretty much the perfect escapist adventure story.