A to Z Challenge: C is for “Count of Monte Cristo”

CFor the letter C of the A to Z Challenge I had a difficult choice to make. On one hand, I had the Count of Monte Cristo, a nobleman with a mysterious and painful past, on the other, Conan the Barbarian, a warrior in a classic tale that started the fantasy genre. But since I’ve already mentioned Conan in last year’s Myk Book Tag, I decided to give this post entirely to the count, or rather, to the book that tells his story.

“The Count of Monte Cristo”, written by Alexander Dumas, was a book sitting on my mom’s bookshelf, and she was the one recommending it to me. Back then, I loved the swashbucklers movies, the “Three Musketeers” or “Le Bossu”, and I wanted to know more, though spoiled by the movies’ simplified plots and more cheerful endings, I couldn’t get through either of the books in that genre, but for some reason, the “Count of Monte Cristo” gripped me from the first pages and never let go.

The story of a sailor who lost his freedom, his good name, and his beloved woman due to plots of jealous men, and who by the fate’s turn came to a great wealth has a lot of a fairy tale feel to it, but it is nothing but a dark story of revenge, greed, betrayal, and all the other lowest human instincts. The count himself, even though we root for his revenge, is not an impeccable hero, but a bitter man who has a hard time believing there’s good and love out in the world.

Third volume of the Polish edition from the 80s. The very one I've read. (courtesy of Goodreads)
Third volume of the Polish edition from the 80s. The very one I’ve read.
(courtesy of Goodreads)

Even though considered a classic, the book is definitely not a boring and tedious read. Full of action and intrigue, it keeps the reader’s attention all the time, and every bit of a story, every scene with some characters, no matter how irrelevant they feels, later prove important to the main plot, and definitely speak of the author’s skill to weave so many plots together into a complex story stretched across years, countries, and lives.

Of course, I’ve read the book as a teenager (and I did so multiple times), so I was quite curious how did it survive the trial of time, and earlier this year I bought a digital copy to face one of my favorite characters from my youth. I was still enchanted by the story, and even though some plot solutions might have been a little bit too convenient, the world of the 19th century France and Italy grabbed me with the same strength it did twenty years ago, and even though I knew the ending (one of those you’re unable to forget), I still was biting my nails waiting for the Count to unfold his intricate revenge plans and hoping he’ll find a bit of happiness at the end.

And I have a confession to make… I feel like reading it yet again. Maybe I’ll have a look at Tom Reiss’s “Black Count”, recommended to me by lovely Anachronist (check her review of the book), to discover more background of the story.

What about you? What kind of less known classic is your favorite? Which is the book you fell in love with when you were young that stayed with you for year?

Joanna Maciejewska

Joanna Maciejewska is a fantasy and science fiction author who enjoys all things SFF: books, movies, and video games. Her short stories appeared in magazines and anthologies in Polish and in English. Her epic fantasy adventure series, starting with By the Pact, is available in ebook and paperback at all major retailers.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Laura Roberts

    Oh yes! I remember reading this book sometime in middle school (maybe 7th grade?), and despite the fact that it was a “boy book” (i.e. about action/adventure), it was really quite gripping. I think I even read ahead (we were assigned a few chapters per week), because I wanted to know how the story ended. I will have to give it a re-read, too, to see if it still holds up.

    I also feel like William Goldman, who wrote The Princess Bride, may have stolen a thing or two from Dumas. 😉

    1. melfka

      I guess I never considered it a “boy book”, but I was a bit tomboyish back then anyway. And then, the count stole my teenage heart. 😉

  2. sjhigbee

    Yes… I recall reading The Count of Monte Cristo – and hard on the heels of that, I plunged into The Man in the Iron Mask… The book I recall with great affection was The Coral Island by R.M. Ballantyne, which was a version of Robinson Crusoe with three stranded sailors, instead of just one. There was a fair amount of humour in the their banter, as I recall. I certainly enjoyed it as a girl.

    1. melfka

      Oh, I’ve never heard about The Coral Island, and I LOVED Robinson Crusoe. I might need to find that book then. 🙂

      1. sjhigbee

        I haven’t read it for a VERY long time – I do recall thoroughly enjoying it.

  3. portiabridget

    Alexandre Dumas based loosely The Count of Monte Christo on life and fates of his own father, Alex Dumas, a French Army general during the Revolution and partially during the Napoleonic Wars. Alex Dumas was a fascinating character but his daddy, a French aristocrat who went to Haiti and lived there in sin with a black mistress, was even better. Small wonder the book is good – one of those classics you actually want to read and reread.

    1. melfka

      Oh yeah. Not many classics achieve that… 😉

    1. melfka

      Which movie? The newest, from the 2000s?
      I enjoyed it too, though to my dismay, in all of them Edmund gets back with Mercedes at the end, which to me blurs the original message of the book.

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