A great cast of wonderfully entertaining characters, including the slightly bumbling Mr Pickwick, his ever-faithful and street-wise man-servant Sam an...moreA great cast of wonderfully entertaining characters, including the slightly bumbling Mr Pickwick, his ever-faithful and street-wise man-servant Sam and various other who all have their own moments of entertainment. This being Dickens' first novel and published over nearly 2 years, it was interesting seeing his writing style develop.(less)
The blurb on my copy of this book says that it has never achieved the recognition of others of Dicken's work, and I can see why. There were some brill...moreThe blurb on my copy of this book says that it has never achieved the recognition of others of Dicken's work, and I can see why. There were some brilliant chapters that kept me reading and wanting to know what was going to happen next, but for the most part it wasn't particularly exciting and it was pretty obvious what was going to happen. Some nice ideas and good characters (though ridiculous names: M'Choakumchild? You are not going to let that man become a teacher with a name like that) but it could have been so much better. 2.5*(less)
I've never read this book before and I thought Frankenstein was all like creepy castles, thunder and l...moreSo, turns out I know nothing about Frankenstein.
I've never read this book before and I thought Frankenstein was all like creepy castles, thunder and lightning, sewing body parts together, Igor, and terrorised villagers in Eastern Europe somewhere. Where I got this from I'm not entirely sure, since I've never seen any of the film adaptations or anything even. But none of this is true to the book. Like, nothing. No bolts in the neck or anything.
And I kinda think the other version might be better. There's a lot more conjecture and moral dilemma stuff going on in actuality, and in all honesty it doesn't make for the most exciting reading. Strangely, it was when Frankenstein's monster was relating the early years of his life (in wonderfully eloquent prose) which I found most enjoyable. Victor Frankenstein had his moments - particularly in the last section - but I didn't really like his parts in general.
I think this may be another case where...this book has become such a cultural thing and taken on some much of an identity outside of itself that it's been changed by the media so much as to be unrecognisable. The Frankenstein and his monster that we know isn't the one which Mary Shelley wrote all those decades ago.(less)
This book has three distinct parts: pre-imprisonment, imprisonment and post-imprisonment. Pre-imprisonment is a good introduction to all the character...moreThis book has three distinct parts: pre-imprisonment, imprisonment and post-imprisonment. Pre-imprisonment is a good introduction to all the characters, especially Dantes who is just a lovely guy. Pretty much everyone likes him and he's happy living a simple life as long as he can support himself and his father and marry Mercedes.
During his imprisonment you see him harden and change. He goes through believable cycles of hope and despair, even going so far as trying to starve himself at one point. Escape and the return to those he loves is the one thought in his mind for most of the fourteen years of his imprisonment, even when he is befriended by the Abbe Faria, who is quite clearly a 'good guy'. The Abbe sets out to pass on his vast wealth of knowledge, and Dantes proves an apt pupil. It is also the Abbe who passes on the secret of a vast fortune he has discovered.
While these two sections are very good, they are basically quite a long pre-amble section which is giving the tools for Monsieur le Comte de Monte Cristo to get his revenge. Though for all this they are probably some of my favourite parts, possibly because they are very easy to read.
We rejoin the story nine years after Dantes' escape, and his transformation into the Count of Monte Cristo is complete. He is well established in society, has furthered his education and established a coterie of servants (and slaves) about him. And this is where the fun begins. You know who he's going to go after, but he sets in motion these incredibly complex events to try and bring about their downfall without the least suspicion falling on him, and while you know this is what he is doing at the start it is very difficult to see how his actions will lead to this.
One thing I particularly like is that not everything goes to plan. Things go wrong with what the Count planned through information he doesn't know (though he does seem to know pretty much everything), unexpected relationship and pleas. But similarly there are some lucky coincidences that make things easier. At least I think they were coincidences...you never quite know with the Count. He could just be that good. Which is actually one thing that's a little annoying - he is amazing at, like, everything.
And then there's the characters. In the 23 years between his imprisonment and his arrival in Paris to gain his revenge (isn't it lucky they all live in the same city now?) they've got married and had children and lost spouses and remarried and had more children who are now engaged to people (sometimes each other). There are an awful lot of names thrown at you in quite a short space of time, and an awful lot of relationships established. I found it quite confusing at first, and still had blank moments towards the end of the book, having to work hard at who someone's father was, what he'd done to Dantes and how his downfall was being brought about. And it was at this point that my reading of the book fell off for a week or so.
The end of the story, though, is rather wonderful. Seeing the consequences of some of his actions shocks the Count into change, and there is a happy ending for some (though nowhere near all) of the characters, often in spite of the actions taken by Monte Cristo. The ending - sailing away into the sunset - was a little cliched, but it was a nice end to a rather amazing book.
Though a little dry in places, the story is amazing and generally easy to read. It might take a while, but I'd definitely recommend it.