Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Book Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

1st Published: serially from August 1844 until January 1846 

(And by JAICO Publishing House in 2002)

Price:  Rs. 140/-

(I was sent a review copy of the book by the publishers.)

ISBN: 81-7992-004-6

Number of Pages: 216

Genre: Fiction/Children's Classics

About the Author: 

"Alexandre Dumas was a French writer. His works have been translated into nearly 100 languages, and he is one of the most widely read French authors. Many of his historical novels of high adventure, including The Count of Monte CristoThe Three MusketeersTwenty Years After, and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later were originally published as serials. His novels have been adapted since the early twentieth century for nearly 200 films. Dumas' last novel, The Knight of Sainte-Hermine, unfinished at his death, was completed by a scholar and published in 2005, becoming a bestseller. It was published in English in 2008 as The Last Cavalier."


"The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel by French author Alexandre Dumas. It is one of the author's most popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. The story takes place in France, Italy and islands in the Mediterranean during the historical events of 1815–1838. It begins from just before the Hundred Days period (when Napoleon returned to power after his exile) and spans through to the reign of Louis-Philippe of France. The plot primarily focuses on a man who is wrongfully imprisoned, escapes from jail, acquires a fortune and sets about getting revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment; it is a story that involves romance, loyalty, betrayal and selfishness, shown throughout the story as characters slowly reveal their true inner nature. The book is considered a literary classic today." 


"You are drunk, Caderousse," said Danglars, "and it is getting late. Come, I'll take you home." He helped Caderousse to his feet and began leading him away. When they had advanced a little ahead, Danglars looked back. He saw Ferdinand pick up the letter, put it into his pocket and rush towards the city by a different route.

An evil gleam of satisfaction appeared in Danglar's eyes. "Aha!" he muttered to himself, "Let us see who becomes the captain of the Pharaon." 

Arpita Speaks:

The best way someone can make your Christmas is by giving you a surprise. And a surprise it was when I received this book from the JAICO publishing house. I hadn’t expected the review copy to arrive then, of all days - but it sure did put a huge smile on my face!

The Count of Monte Cristo was a novel I’d been looking forward to reading for ages: a story about hope, survival, and vengeance. The plus point is that it was a good read. What disappointed me somewhat was the fact that it was an abridged version, instead of the original. However, it did give me a sense of déjà vu as I felt like a child reading an adventure story once again. And at least this means my kid sister can read the book by herself.

The illustrations are endearing and the language used in this publication is quite good, although I did notice a few typing errors. Coming to the plot, cutting a long story short and managing to preserve its essence is a difficult task but it has been managed well. The novel begins with a voyage coming to an end at Marsailles. Young and charming Edmond Dantès learns that he is about to be appointed the captain of the ship, gets engaged to a lovely woman called Mercédès and it seems like everything in his life is going smoothly.

However, he is unaware that there are envious people conspiring against him: Danglars (the treasurer of the ship), Ferdinand (who wishes to marry Mercédès) and his neighbor Caderousse (who is jealous that Dantès has had better luck than him). The three of them- being aware that he has promised his late captain to deliver a letter to Bonapartist sympathizers in Paris- themselves write a letter, accusing him of treason. On the day of his wedding, Dantès is arrested. What follows is a disturbing sequence of events which capture the anguish of this man who undergoes the most strenuous of circumstances and emerges as an avenging hero.

There are several other characters who also strike a chord with the reader: Dantès' old father who dies of heartbreak when his son is imprisoned unjustly, his benign boss Monsieur  Morrel, and Abbé Faria whom Dantès unexpectedly befriends while in prison. The schemes he comes up with to seek revenge from those who wronged him are impressive, but several of the more nerve- wracking episodes have been left out of the children's version for obvious reasons. The conclusion includes an element of surprise and would leave you supremely satisfied. 

Rating: 4/5

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