Trying to put this book in to words is a challenge. I don’t think there are enough words to just quantify how amazing this was, I really don’t. This is an enormous book, it’s a beast at over 1200 pages, the font isn’t exactly easy to read either but somehow it could have gone on for 1200 more and I don’t think I’d have been bored. I’m so glad that I wasn’t put off by the sheer enormity of it because this book is wonderful.
The way I recently described it to my friend is Sirius Black gone right. Edmond Dantés, our protagonist, has everything going for him at the age of 19 when this book starts; a beautiful girlfriend, the job of his dreams, a loving father… then it all goes wrong and he is imprisoned for 14 years. That isn’t really a spoiler as such as it generally features on all descriptions! Upon his leaving his imprisonment, he takes revenge on those that caused him to end up there. He takes up the identity of the Count of Monte Cristo and, after developing a very intricate plan over a number of years, dishes out his revenge cold. There are so many threads to this story which are woven together in such a satisfying way, there is no such thing as a loose end at the end of this 1200 page epic!
And while this is a story about revenge, it is also ultimately about love. All Dantés has done in the years after prison – and during – were because of his love for Mercédès. All the actions that seem awful in some respects are actually, in part, driven by love of another character. Talking of the characters, they were all incredible. They were all rounded; they had merits and they had flaws – Dantés included! Some of them I loved, others I loathed but I just loved every interaction and how all of the characters wove together… it was incredible.
I think I owe the speed at which I read this to the audiobooks assistance. It was a 52hr audiobook, which I listened to on 2x speed and I just loved it. It just really brought it all to life. I was so invested in this book, and audiobook, that I was having dreams that seemed to merge with the plot of this. I was completely immersed.
This book has gone to the top of my favourite books list. Honestly. I’ve read some good books in my life but few have been as incredible as this. This has gone in to my Top 5 Ever list (along with – to name a couple – Rebecca and Orlando). It is daunting; it’s a 1200 page book, but please – if you are going to read one classic (pre-1900) this year, or in your lifetime, make it this. If you’ve read this please speak to me. I NEED to talk to people about this book because I just don’t think I can ever forget it and I want to experience it as long as possible.
Needless to say this is a 5/5 book. Definitely the best I’ve read this year (although, Orlando is fighting with it a bit). I urge you – READ THIS BOOK! (and make it the unabridged version).
PS: As if you needed any more convincing, there’s a not so closeted, 19th century lesbian. It’s not there unless you look for it, but it’s not just in my head, there is critical reviews that defend this point. And if that isn’t enough of a sell, I don’t know what else I can do to convince you.