38 Book Challenge

Book #12: The Count of Monte Cristo

Title: The Count of Monte Cristo
Author: Alexandre Dumas
# of Pages: 1462
Genre: Classic Romantic

Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi once said, “After an enjoyable event we know that we have changed, that our self has grown: in some respect, we have become more complex as a result of it.” He goes on to say that to enjoy such an event, the task itself requires much more effort than you would think a pleasurable experience should require–that it is partly due to the amount of required effort that makes the final payoff so huge.

I couldn’t agree more.

I received The Count of Monte Cristo on my 20th birthday, as a special gift from my dad. I had started to read the abridged version of the story and decided soon after beginning that it was so good, I was just going to have to read the whole, unabridged thing (rather than spend all that time reading an abridged version). However, when I actually got the unabridged book, it seemed so daunting that I kept putting it off until that illusive summer month when I wouldn’t have much else going on.

Luckily for me, that month actually came.
And what a marvelous month it’s been!
If you’re not familiar with the plot of the book (like half of the phlebotomists at the plasma center), The Count of Monte Cristo is about Edmond Dantes, a young sailor who is wrongfully thrown into prison on false charges the night before his wedding. His first several years in prison, he comes to understand what despair and loneliness really mean, to the point that he tries to take his own life. But, just as he is withering away his supposed final days in self-starvation, he hears a scraping sound coming from the floor of his cell. He realizes that it is a fellow prisoner trying to escape, and he feverishly attempts to start his own tunnel to meet his unknown friend. After a few agonizingly long days of waiting and attempted digging, the two prisoners meet–one a young sailor, the other an old priest.
The priest teaches Edmond everything he knows, including languages, science, cultures, geography, and the particular etiquette and social patterns of the very rich. Most importantly, the priest also helps Edmond to figure out why he was imprisoned in the first place, even though the chief magistrate knew of his innocence. Together, they figure out all the guilty parties who were concerned with the wrongful imprisonment, and Edmond starts to form an intricate plot of revenge as he awaits the perfect chance to escape from his cell.

After a miraculous escape, Edmond seeks his revenge on those who robbed him of so many years of his life, as well as endeavors to bless the lives of the people who remained faithful to him.

(Note here: the book is WAY different than the movie, especially in the way the revenge plays out. I personally love the movie, but I thought the way the book carried everything out was ingenious. It was actually pretty fun to compare the two.)
All in all, The Count of Monte Cristo is everything a book should be: suspenseful, well-written, intricate, thought-provoking, exciting, romantic, and adventurous. Even though the book was laden with descriptions, I was never bored or counting down the number of pages I still had left until I finished. In fact, I experienced the rare (but wonderful) feeling of sadness when the book was over because it meant that there wasn’t any more left to read. Truly, this was one of those books that have helped me to “become more complex as a result of it”–and, trust me, it is a book that is well worth the effort required to read until the all-too-satisfying conclusion.
I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 5 Stars

P.S. Check out my favorite quote from the book here.

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