Customer Review

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic, thrilling, gothic and macabre, 7 Jan 2007
This review is from: La Reine Margot (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This is probably my favourite Dumas novel but there's something about this translation that doesn't feel quite right. I suspect it's Dumas rather than the translator: there's an elusive tone and register to his prose which just doesn't translate into English in any seamless fashion.

That apart, this is a brilliant story: set in 1572, it concerns itself with the French wars of religion, especially the horrendous St Bartholomew's Eve massacre when Catholics slaughted Huguenots (Protestants) on the streets of Paris. The poisonous (literally) Catherine de Medici is set against the luminous Marguerite (called Margot by her brothers), and Dumas creates a story that pulses with drama. This is especially good on the claustrophobia of the Louvre where conversations are always elliptical and opaque, where secret lovers breath messages to each other in Latin, and where truth and integrity are always at a premium.

Like other Dumas novels (e.g. The Three Musketeer series) you do need to understand the historical background, and while the notes in this Oxford edition do an admirable job of filling that in you should be wary of the editor slipping in frequent 'spoilers', for example contrasting the historical career of a character with his/her role in Dumas' novel - very iritating for the first time reader.

So this is a great read, in my view better than the Three Musketeers. If you can, though, I would strongly recommend reading it in the original (a free Kindle edition is available: La Reine Margot (French Edition)) which has a certain something that the English doesn't capture.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 7 Jul 2009 22:24:00 BDT
Misfit says:
Well met RC. Excellent novel and I'm going to have to make an effort to get my hands on the film. Although I hear it's a bit shocking in places. Keep an eye out for a review soon on a lesser known Dumas, The Two Dianas - about Diane de Poitiers and Henri II's daughter Diane.

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jul 2009 10:42:22 BDT
Last edited by the author on 8 Jul 2009 10:46:30 BDT
Roman Clodia says:
Hello. Yes, the film is marvellous, very worth getting hold of. It's quite graphic during the St Bartholomew's massacre, but the thing I really remember is the relationship between Marguerite and de Mole. It is very serious, none of Dumas' playfulness, but the acting is brilliant throughout.

I hadn't heard of the Two Dianes, but really want to read it now - thanks!

ps. just checked it on Amazon and it only seems to available in French - I could probably manage at a pinch but wondered if you'd tracked down a translation?

In reply to an earlier post on 8 Jul 2009 16:23:53 BDT
Misfit says:
I actually put in an ILL (interlibrary loan request) and they've got the first of the two volumes on the way for me (how good is that?). I hope it's not in French :)

If not, I'll buy them on Abe, listings here: http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=alexandre+dumas&sts=t&tn=the+two+dianas&x=65&y=11. Note there are two volumes.

We've been doing some sleuthing on these books at Goodreads here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/166597-the-two-dianas

I just put a hold on the CD of La Reine Margot at the library so I have my hands on it in a few days. Hope the computer can handle the close captioning :)
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