Lucy's Reviews > Revenge

Revenge by Stephen Fry
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's review
Jan 29, 2009

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Read in February, 2009

Revenge is a modern re-telling of The Count of Monte Cristo. I feel like I'm being a faker comparing the two, because I have never read the original (I know, I know it's fantastic and I have to read it. Someday I will). But I have seen the movie. James Caviezel.....mmmmmm-mmmmmm.

I was always troubled by the the main character's motivation for revenge. In the movie, all ended well and good because the bad guys were really bad guys and it was very easy to cheer for the good guy. Again, I'm not sure Dumas wrote it that way, but since that's the way the movie goes, that's all I have for comparison.

In Revenge, Ned's charmed life is destroyed when a few jealous school peers plant drugs on him. After he is taken to the police station, a note, entrusted to him by his sailing coach which he never opened and had yet to deliver, is found in his coat pocket that reveals the scandalous identity of a traitor. An investigator's desperate need to destroy the evidence sends Ned to an undisclosed insane asylum - for life.

Ned has no idea how much time has passed when he meets the man who ultimately saves him. Referred to as Babe, this man unlocks Ned's trapped mind and memories and over several years, Babe unloads his knowledge and secrets to Ned. With that kind of mental training, Ned eventually escapes and his plot for revenge on all who wronged him begins.

The author, Fry, allows the reader to doubt the fairness of Ned's plan for revenge. While I certainly was glad Ned was out, and wanted him to enjoy his new freedom, most of me wanted to see him be able to "let it go" - probably because the author wanted me to feel that way. In the end, I felt a bit manipulated by the author. He had obviously read Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo, and wrote the "what if"s into his own. What if someone who hurt you did it accidentally? Like Ian McEwan's Atonement, Fry wants to know what someone who does something that ruins a person's life, but can't take it back, deserves. What should be their punishment? In my opinion, Fry ruins the subtly of those questions by creating a highly unlikely and overly sensational ending. But I appreciate his effort.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Annalisa (new)

Annalisa You so have to read The Count of Monte Cristo! That is so not how Dumas ended the novel. You know the French: happy ending is not part of their vocabulary. I love the movie version, but on a completely different level. I heard that Dumas based the story on a real-life incident of life-long revenge.

Lucy I figured as much - just couldn't claim any specific knowledge. I really should read it. I have a hard time investing time in reading mammoth classics that have been adapted so many times I already know the story. Les Mis, Grapes of Wrath, Monte Cristo, Moby Dick, etc., etc.

But, apparently, I don't know the story of Monte Cristo, so I'll see if I can't tackle that sometime this year. Are you french? I know how you love the unhappy ending....:)

message 3: by Heidi L. (new)

Heidi L. I was going to say the same thing -- you have to read Monte Cristo, but if you don't have tons of time to invest, read the abridged version -- it gets to the point and isn't so long and drawn out. Also I LOVE the movie (and the book) but both versions are very different and don't have the same ending, so be prepared.

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