The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the most know works written by Alexandre Dumas père widely spread by the different TV adaptation of the story. Though it is a long book, the plot of the story is quite simple. It is centred on Edmond Dantès, a young sailor who is going to be promoted to captain and who is going to be married with Mercedès, a beautiful woman who lives in the Catalans. Disgracefully there are two people who do not wish Edmond to succeed: Danglars who wants to become captain himself and Fernand who is also in love with Mercedès. The two rivals decide to write a letter of accusation against Edmond for collaborating with the exiled Emperor Napoleon and send it to the authorities. Caderousse, Edmond's neighbour, overhears the conversation but his cowardice prevents him acting and helping Edmond when he has problems. Once arrested, Edmond is brought to the judge’s assistant Monsieur de Villefort, an ambitious young man who has renounced from his paternal surname in order to acquire more power. At the beginning, de Villefort sympathizes with Edmond and promises to help the hero but latter on, when he discovers that his father is involved in a complot to overthrow the king, he decides to send Edmond to If’s prison where nobody will find him ever again. Fifteen years elapse until Edmond manages to escape from prison, time during which he meets The Abbot Faria, and strange old man, who will convert into Edmond's best friend and second father. Faria teaches Edmond languages, mathematics, physics, and many other things which will be useful to our hero in the future. Once out of prison, Edmond reinvents himself and converts into three different characters: Abbot Busoni, Lord Wilmore and Count Monte Cristo. His main goal is to revenge himself from the people that incarcerated him in If but first he must introduce himself in the society in which his enemies live as during those fifteen years they have also changed. Danglars is now Baron and banker, one of the most important in Paris; Fernand is now the Count of Morcef and has married Mercedès with whom he has a son, Albert de Morcef; de Villerfort is now the King's judge and Caderousse has converted into a depraved thief. His charm, exoticism and the money he gained thanks to Faria’s information, soon win Edmond a place within the Parisian aristocracy where he moves and complots his revenge.
The book can be divided in two main parts, the first part which concerned with the presentation of Edmond as a naïve, young sailor whose main ambition is to become captain and marry Mercedès. In this first part the reader will see the changes that the misfortunes bring in Edmond's behaviour and personal beliefs. I consider that the first part ends when Edmond manages to escape and win some money with the smugglers. The second part is mainly concerned with Edmond's revenge, although there are some chapters dedicated to his retribution to the people that tried to help him or his father. In this part we find a hardened Edmond who sees himself as a kind of God of Revenge. In this part, Edmond lashes ire not considering the innocent victims of his vengeful plots; only at the end will he be aware of those victims, people like Mercedès, Albert de Morcef or Valentine de Villefort who have done no harm to his person. A bit shameful, he decides to undo some of his work only to discover that in some cases is too late to do a thing. However he does not repent entirely from his actions in any moment.
This is a good book in which Dumas combines his wonderful dialogues with his mastery of the suspense creating a climatic story which captivates its reader from the beginning. In addition, the reader will find in this book a good description of the Parisian society during the Restoration period but should be careful when reading certain events as Dumas changed some dates in order to create the plot (very used in The Three Musketeers). Although some character might seem very rigid, it is a book I rmend to any kind reader, especially adults as teenagers might find it a bit dense for their liking.