Welcome to Book Club Classics! If you haven’t had a chance to read Wednesday’s post about the intriguing life of Alexandre Dumas, I would highly encourage taking a peek at it. Also, if you’re completely new to book club, thanks for stopping by! You can read all about it, and our books for the year are listed below!
2015 Book Club Classics List
January – Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (January 28) My review here
February – A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle (February 25) My review here
March – A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain (March 25) My review here
April – Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare (April 29) My review here
May – The Awakening by Kate Chopin (May 20) My review here
June – The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (June 24)
July – The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (July 29)
August – Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (August 26)
September – Lady Chatterley’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence (September 30)
October – Dracula by Bram Stoker (October 28)
November – Beowulf translated by Seamus Heaney (November 18)
December – The Chimes by Charles Dickens (December 16)
Ready to discuss some classic literature? I must warn you, if you haven’t read The Count of Monte Cristo yet, there are spoilers past this point!
As a whole, I really enjoyed the story and felt like things ended as well for all the characters that we were meant to root for as possible! I’m sure it’s technically considered to be a novel, but to me Dumas’s huge tome felt more like a cross between a novel and a series of vignettes. While the changes in perspective, location, and time period were a bit disorienting at first, I feel like these abrupt shifts effectively created an air of mystery around the Count of Monte Cristo, even for the reader who had known him since the beginning of the story.
The Count as a character was incredibly interesting, and his shifts in disposition and disguise kept me on my toes. What I liked most about Dumas’s characterization of the Count is that, despite being the obvious protagonist, he never appears to have all the answers nor does he represent an infallible morality. But good Lord, can you imagine finding actual buried treasure that amounted to millions of dollars? With that kind of inheritance, I might have been convinced to forget the ones who had formerly wronged me, but you have to respect the years of planning that it must have taken for his plans to turn out as successful as they did.
Women in The Count of Monte Cristo
First of all, can I just say how pleasantly surprised I was with the number of significant female characters that graced the pages of this book? And while good, evil, frivolous, or austere, they were all different characters with motivations and weaknesses, not your stock “female.”
Initially, I thought Valentine fell a little too completely within the realm of the ingenue: virginal, naive, too sweet for her own good; for all intents and purposes, a “nice girl.” Then she decided to marry for love even if it meant casting off her inheritance, spoke up for her grandfather when he was no longer able to assert his own independence, and had the courage to put her life in the hands of a virtual stranger in the hopes of surviving her stepmother’s poison. Basically, she’s a boss, and I shouldn’t have judged her so harshly.
Even though she wasn’t the most warm and friendly character, I appreciated Mademoiselle Eugenie’s willingness to take the money she had saved up and leave with her best friend to pursue a career as an artist. She had not one concern about living out her life as a single woman, and it made me smile when she whacked all of her hair off, Mulan-style! Equally bad ass is Haidee, especially when she stomps right into the court room and courageously avenges the deaths of her father and mother. From princess to slave to perhaps Countess of Monte Cristo? She’s alright in my book!
Now let’s talk about some mothers. Out of all the woman in the novel, I feel like Mercedes definitely got the short end of the stick. The love of her life is imprisoned and must be dead, she’s too poor to do much more than survive, and she finally agrees to marry the second-best choice, a guy who she’s known and loved all of her life. While she obviously receives great joy from her son, the rest of her life is less-than-fulfilling, yet she still gets blamed for not being steadfast, and I can’t see how that’s fair. Her leave of the Count was particularly sad since she now has literally no one in her life until Albert hopefully returns. Mercedes is the character that Dumas may have been the most unjust toward.
Education, education, education!
At the beginning of the novel, we meet a loyal sailor who knows his stuff at the helm and who can probably read and write with limited proficiency. By the end, he is an (evil?) genius mastermind with a huge fortune and the ability to portray the subtleties of men of different backgrounds. Without the Abbe Faria’s influence and years of education, this transformation would’ve pissed me off to no end.
Also, while I don’t typically side with Roman bandits, I couldn’t help but love the fact that Luigi Vampa was always reading some impressive masterwork that gave pause to the nobles that he kidnapped. You gotta love a guy who reads!
If we’re friends on Goodreads (which we definitely should be!), you’ll notice that I gave The Count of Monte Cristo four stars for being both complex and thoroughly entertaining, if just a tad wordy!
And now for the linkup! If you wrote your own post about The Count of Monte Cristo or if you want to link up a post about another classic book that you love, use the InLinkz button below to join the conversation. Don’t forget to include a link to this post in your page or even slap this button onto it and help spread the word!
Next month’s classic is The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I feel like I have to read because my new last name is Hyde, and I obviously need to know what I’ve gotten myself into! Thanks for stopping by for book club!