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Customer Review

VINE VOICEon 11 March 2009
Dumas' unabridged novel The Count of Monte Cristo, weighs in at a hefty 900+ pages, a fact that might turn a great number of potential readers (and thus buyers) away. It is a mistake though, to pass up this novel on account of its pretensions to masonry, when what lies within is prose of a highly readable nature, and a story of timeless intrigue and vengeance. Not for nothing does Keith Wren's introduction refer to Dumas as the "John Grisham or Stephen King of his day".

I find that Wordsworth Classics are excellent editions overall, particularly for their jargon-free introductions, and the little piece of advice always noted at the front, that "we strongly advise you to enjoy this book before turning to the Introduction". In rival editions of classic novels I'm always looking for this advice, and find it wanting. It's satisfying to read the introduction on concluding the novel, to find Wren's exposition of the nature of both the writing and its context, and to more deeply engage in the circumstances of its production as a serialisation, written at high speed. My only criticism of this edition of the novel is that the speech becomes a little confused: with more than one speaker "talking" on a single line, it's really not clear at times which character the dialogue belongs to.

Of the story itself then, there seems little that needs to be related, as it forms a part of our popular consciousness. Edmond Dantes, betrayed into imprisonment for 14 years of his life, escapes to unlimited wealth with only one thing on his mind: vengeance. The first third of the book fairly races along, as Edmond is first betrayed, and then imprisoned. The middle third of the book definitely slows down, and at times may be said to plod a little, but by the time the work of Monte Cristo begins to deliver up his enemies one by one, the reader is again hooked.

Whilst readers may find fault with certain inconsistencies of plot, or occasional flatness of certain characters, Dumas can't be faulted in creating a novel that succeeds exactly where it's supposed to, in telling a riveting story of one man's path from disempowerment to biblical avenger.
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