The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Release Date: 1845
Well this wasn’t what I was expecting. I’ll admit, I’m a huge fan of the Jim Caviezel movie and assumed it was pretty true to the plot. While it did take the best parts of the story and added some fun sword fighting, it also changed important plot points and basically toned down the “honor” of all the characters involved (nearly every main character threatens suicide at some point in the story).
The beginning (Edmond’s happy days) through his freedom from incarceration are the best parts of this book. That is all over by about 1/4 of the book, and what follows is basically detailed family trees and dramas of the Morrels, Danglars, Morcerfs, and Villeforts, as well as tons of servants and neighbors. The Morrel and Villefort sections in particular were not very interesting to follow, and the relationship with Haydee seemed creepy and out of left field.
Mercedes (a major character in the movie) seemed much less interesting here, and her relationship with Edmond was something both characters moved on from rather easily. My biggest complaint however is how Edmond basically becomes omniscient about everybody’s dirty laundry, is able to fool everybody with his makeup tricks and whose use of various medicinal panacea is more reliable than any anesthesiologist’s treatments would be today.
All that said, Dumas writing style holds up very well (much as it did with “The Three Musketeers”) in terms of language and dialogue. Most of the characters were too alike in terms of their honor and reactions, but a few (Albert, Caderousse, Beauchamp) managed to be compelling overall. The Ali/Haydee and Cavalcanti storylines were the worst parts, but with so many characters they didn’t derail the book completely.