Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things I'll Take Away From Reading The Count Of Monte Cristo This Month

(rockin' the bullet points this week... can you tell I've returned to the workforce?)

  • I really want to see the film version starring Jim Caviezel again. I suspect they melded the 3 baddies into one (Guy Pierce) but maybe that's just what seven years of brain cell decay will do to one's memory of a film.
  • The book was too long. I know, how can anyone level such a claim at a 1,200+ page book? I enjoyed the first 200 or so pages and selected chapters near the end, but I wanted excitement and intrigue the whole way through. Didn't happen.

  • Linked to the length: I liked the narrator to begin with, but found his shifts and conceits irksome as the novel progressed. Like when we first meet Franz and see things from his perspective for chapters without having any idea who he is or why he's important… then we meet the Count of Monte Cristo, who we all know is Edmund Dantes, but the narrator daren't mention this fact…. Irksome.
  • The chapter where Bertuccio describes his oath of vengeance against Villefort and it's (semi)fulfilment is just as vivid in my memory as Monte Cristo's quest for revenge. Again, length and complexity doesn't necessarily equal riveting revenge saga.

  • I'm actually quite surprised how nonplussed I was by the middle section of the book, which is essentially a novel of aristocratic matchmaking. I may not have liked these sorts of stories as a younger male reader, but these days I see the artistry in Jane Austen and the humour is P.G. Wodehouse. Adding a revenge plot into a tea-table novel should be awesome. Think Howard's End with Leonard Bast secretly plotting to poison, disgrace or defile the Wilcoxes/Schlegels. But then again, Howard's End is only 340 pages…

As I stated at the beginning of this journey, I had the embryo of an idea for my own revenge saga. From time to time my thoughts drifted from Dumas' story to my own. I'm not sure I know anything more about what will happen than I did at the start of the month, but I feel like there's enough sustenance there to leave it gestating and move on to something else.

That something else is another novel - quite different from 'The Count of Monte Cristo meets A Good Keen Man'. In fact, this novel, which I tried writing last year ('Novel B' for those familiar with my old blog) is more like Tim Winton meets Awakenings.

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