My first mistake was trying to listen to The Count of Monte Cristo on 2x speed as an audio book. That was a little nuts, especially with all of the French place names and characters, so at times the kids would ask in confusion, “What language is this story in?” Plus the audio book was like 79 hours long or something.
Life is too short.
Since I read far faster than I listen, I got the hard copy book from the library. To my chagrin, after about a month and a half of listening, it turned out I was only halfway through. I toyed with giving it up, but decided that after so much investment I was going to finish this book, by George.
OK, the book is a classic. It’s not poorly written, just insanely long, and incredibly indulgent. Imagine you’ve been wronged, and then you have all the money in the world and could spend a decade getting back at everyone. Would you do it? I, for one, would not (see Romans 12:19). But if you were to concoct a revenge fantasy, The Count of Monte Cristo would make a good handbook.
What really helped me understand the novel and push through to the end was reading Tom Reiss’s informative non-fiction work on Dumas’s father, The Black Count. It turns out that Dumas based the count on his own father’s story. The Black Count tells the story of the senior Dumas, including a fascinating history of race relations in France, the tricky political situations facing military officers in the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods, and Dumas’s incredible and misunderstood career. I’m grateful to my friend Sheila at The Deliberate Reader (link is to her link-up post for this book so you can get other perspectives!) for recommending the books together!
I’m glad I read these books, although I wouldn’t say this was a favorite classic for me. If you’re planning to read The Count of Monte Cristo, I highly recommend that you read The Black Count first or concurrently. It will really deepen your understanding and help you get through the interminable bits of the novel.
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