Classics Club Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Vengeance is sweet. Is it really?

Personal admission: I’m too lazy to be vengeful. I get angry, feel slighted, plot revenge and then forget about the whole thing. Well, not quite forget …

Granted I’ve never been wrongly accused of plotting against the government. I’ve never been sent to prison for years. And I’ve never lost a great love to a  friend/enemy.

Sometimes a classic book opens a new world to its readers. I’m usually easily led into these worlds. The count’s world left me cold.

Maybe my standards for leading man have been made too high: #Prince Andrei. #War and Peace

Over tea at my favorite coffee shop my sister and I debated the merits of Edmond Dantes (The Count of Monte Cristo). She adores him and can not understand my lukewarm opinion.  She doesn’t mind that Edmond’s great love is named Mercedes (I don’t like the name) and has zero personality.

Edmond is wrongly imprisoned. A chance friendship while incarcerated transforms him. Upon escape he becomes not only wealthy but highly educated. He also becomes a master of disguise. This is where the book truly loses me.  In a series of coincidences and unbelievable turns of events Edmond (now the Count) appears to every last character left behind at the time of his imprisonment.  He disguises himself with British accents and capes. I’m over thirty years out of high school but when I visit my home town I see the guys I had crushes on. They look  a little heavier, but I still recognize them.

There’s poisonings and secret potions to revive the dead, there’s tons of perspiring for some reason (every character wipes their forehead of sweat at least once in the book), and  there are perfectly executed acts of revenge. In the hands of Shakespeare these sorts of things don’t bother me a bit.

In the end Edmond engineers  his revenge but realizes it’s not always so sweet. He doesn’t even get his Mercedes back (not that she deserves him).  As a final slap in the face to the reader, Edmond travels away with his pathetic little Greek slave girl. Is this his reward? He treats her as his angelic, exotic child. The line between sensual love and childish affection blurs and off they go into the sunset.  Can I just say I hated Haydee the slave girl? Also hated the relationship between Haydee and Edmond.

I can usually relate to something in a novel, but I just couldn’t here. Because I’m obsessed with readers liking the characters in MY NOVELS, reading books about characters I don’t connect with is, in a way, comforting. My sister and a few friends have been recommending THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO for years. Dumas obviously strikes a chord with many people but not me. Books are like friends. It’s impossible to like everyone or to be liked by everyone.

How about you? Anyone love this book and think I’m crazy? What’s the one book you were expected to like but didn’t? I’d love to know!

Featured Image: Józef Mehoffer, The Strange Garden