7126I’ve given it a solid 4 stars, right there between the 5-star adventure fun and the 3-star characterization (especially female) and depth.

So on the plus side we have the Count, the perfect embodiment of the avenging angel with unlimited resources. We also have the plot, that messy, over-the-top fest, masterfully convoluted and deliciously dramatic. It’s full of clichés but I was enthralled for most of the book, especially during the jail scenes.

Despite its length the story flew, except for the bandit and shepherdess chapters, which I skipped after reading the summary on Wikipedia. Mostly, I just sat back and enjoyed every mad idea that popped into Dumas’ head come to life: buried newborns are saved! Beautiful Greek Princesses become a slave! A murderess aristocrat! A paraplegic grandfather saves the day using his eyes! The least romantic proposal in literary history!

On the more meh side, character development was sacrificed in making sure the twisty plot came together, and Dumas broke no ground in the way he portrayed his women. They were flat-out flat. The only one that stood out was Eugénie, who wasn’t given enough page time to become someone real. Lovely Haydée was nerve grating. Beautiful Haydée of the “transparent hands” and the Stockholm Syndrome. Did I mentioned she was beautiful? And a Princess? I’m not surprised most adaptations don’t include her…

il_570xN.191707470Wants it!

In general the characters’ emotions and actions existed for dramatic effect and to support the over-the-top plot. This created a distance between me and them, which was only slightly broken by Abbé Faria, Eugénie and Mr. Nortier.

Almost at the end of the long book the Count starts to realize that his obsession with revenge went too far. Instead of exploring these feelings, Dumas quickly exonerates the Count through religion and leaves the reader (at least this one) hanging there waiting for a little more development on a topic that’s central to a 1000+ page novel. Maybe Dumas wanted to do it, but hey, writing about morals and ethics is less fun. It had been a long book, maybe Dumas just wanted to get it over with.

***

Other thoughts: Becky’s Book Reviews, Shelf Love, The Englishist, Wuthering Expectations, Fleur in her World, In Spring it is the dawn, Avid Reader’s MusingsCapricious Reader, Reading Thru The Night, Tif Talks Books (yours?)

Advertisements