Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo was read aloud to me and my siblings under a crescent moon in the island of Giglio just off the Italian west coast with a view of Monte Cristo it self in the distance. This was the perfect setting but had it not been for the pageturning wonders of Dumas’ prose The Count of Monte Cristo would never have made such an impression.
The odyssey of the count, his torments and his revenge combined with the amount of clearly outlined characters and subcharacters are the ingredients for the craziest boy’s book, but the fact that the count turns out to be darker than the average noble avenger gives the story a nice twist that makes it worthwhile beyond the entertaining plot. The story is rich in locations, the island of Monte Cristo of course, but also Marseille, Chateau d’If – the prison island off Marseille, Paris, Rome and the Near East, known and unknown places all described marvelously with streets, people, sounds, and smells intact.
In the Danish edition the wonderful draughtsman Roald Als has made the most perfect illustrations. I don’t know if they have been used for any other editions, but they should be obligatory if you ask me. Simply spot on. Unfortunately they are not to be found online.
By the way – I messed up the chronology. The Count was published as a serial in a newspaper and ran from 1844-46 – which makes it a little older than Jane Eyre and I have another book coming up that was written in 1757, so yeah, forget about chronology…but remember to pick up the adventures of Edmond Dantès.