This brick of a book was always intimidating, but I had always heard the story discussed with enthusiasm (and it had of course spawned many remakes, TThis brick of a book was always intimidating, but I had always heard the story discussed with enthusiasm (and it had of course spawned many remakes, TV series and movies) so I wanted to find out about it for myself. It has taken me a long time to plough through the book, sometimes with great effort. Although the story does pick up at the end, the pace in general is slow, and for those with no interest in the historical setting it might be too much to ask for them to put up with the endless diversions from the main action, as the story meanders into the back history of many characters (most of these histories do have a relevance to the main plot in the end, but as you usually don't know that at the time of reading, it can make it a bit of a trial). The writing is also immensely wordy by today's standards. Half a page might be taken up by the last words of a character (apparently) in the throes of death. Everybody is eloquent as a speechwriter. Maybe that is a characteristic of the time, but it seems unrealistic and made it hard for me to connect with the characters. Most of the characters I didn't really like much, except for Caderousse in his initial description, where he sounded like a misguided drunken Brian Blessed, and Eugenie who is probably the most modern female character, despite the constant criticism of her 'masculine thinking', she does at least take her story into her own hands instead of going whereever the male characters led. But again, that is probably just a characteristic of the time, along with the pretty barbaric honour system, which somehow makes it more honorable to slaughter a close friend rather than ask them a few simple questions! Edmond's vengeance often seemed conveniently successful and unnecessarily complicated - there seemed no reason that it might have gone wrong in a hundred different ways and ended up with many more innocent lives ruined that he might end up as 'evil' as those he was revenging himself upon. Why not just roll up and say 'Hey, I'm Edmond Dante and now I'm rich. I challenge you to a duel (since duelling is a thing and I'm apparently very good at it) - prepare to die!" That seemed to work for Inigo Montoya. It might have saved a lot of people from a lot of stress. But I guess it would not be the same story. Despite these flaws, overall the basic story is very good - vengence, miracles and plots, all orchestrated by one man, often with tinges of Sherlock Holmes. If you don't have the patience for old fashioned language and the slow pace of the novels of the era, however, it might be worth sticking to the TV or movie versions. Otherwise, prepare for some interesting insights into Napoleonic-era France, how marriage really used to be (ie you marry who Dad says, whether you want to or not), and hashish trips....more
Although the book is an interesting examination of a boring, self-absorbed, snobby paedophile, it suffers from the main character being a boring, selfAlthough the book is an interesting examination of a boring, self-absorbed, snobby paedophile, it suffers from the main character being a boring, self-absorbed, snobby paedophile. Some chapters are long-winded and incredibly dull and I even skipped some sections entirely (they seemed to be long featureless descriptions of places visited, about as exciting as the 'so-and-so begat so-and-so' passages in the bible).
I think the point of the book is to show that yes, young girls can manipulate older men with sex (no suprises there) but, although not necessarily evil demons, paedophiles are hardly blameless and just as (if not more) manipulative themselves. And they can be insufferable prats too....more