#50 – The Countess Of Monte Cristo (vol. 1), Alexandre Dumas BOOK REVIEW

June 12, 2018
krauserpua

Obviously this isn’t written by Dumas, it’s merely credited to him to help sell the thing. I have a Forgotten Books reprint of the 1890s edition that was part of the “complete” works of Dumas released in thirty volumes.

Dumas book

So, it’s not by Dumas, and his actual works are 81 novels. Not the most authoritative series then….. Still, I find there to be something alluring in digging up lost books that likely nobody has actually read in years. I could’ve easily invested the same amount of time reading an actual Dumas novel, and it would’ve no doubt been a vastly superior tome and yet…. I wanted to see how these chancers would try to spin the Monte Cristo legacy. I wanted to read the Street Hustle version of The Count Of Monte Cristo.

As expected, it was a bit shit.

Nonetheless, I raced through The Countess Of Monte Cristo in less than 24 hours even though it is a solid 374 pages. Just like The Son Of Monte Cristo before it, this is paced at break-neck, far faster than the (himself fast-moving) Dumas original. The prose style maintains the flowery manner of Dumas but lacks the sharpness and rigour. Whereas the old master will often write long paragraphs dressing the scenery and characters, this one spends only a couple of sentences.

THE COUNTESS OF MONTE CRISTO, Olga San Juan, Arthur Treacher, Dorothy Hart (left), Sonja Henie, Mich

The award for Least Faithful Adaptation goes to….

The story goes as follows [1]: A rich old man is dying in his castle adjoining a factory and his small family and retinue are collected around. A plot is afoot as four conspirators [2], all servants, have him and his legitimate heir murdered then frame his wife (who re-emerges as the Countess). A young stable boy escapes with the secret to a buried family treasure nearby and has made a solemn promise to the faithful manservant of the Count to spend it getting revenge on the treacherous quartet. So ends the long prologue.

Twenty years later in Paris everyone is under new names. The quartet have used ill-gotten gains from the murders to enter high society. The stable boy comes in as a dashing nobleman, working with a mysterious Countess who is the talk of Society. All kinds of machinations follow as the Countess tries to outwit the quartet, save their latest victims, and take revenge for the age old murders.

french-chateau-lawn-sunny-day

I imagined one of these was in there

Thematically, it’s the same as the Dumas original: a betrayal, a hidden treasure, and a re-emergence as mysterious nobility to execute a plan of righteous vengeance. Stylistically, it tries to do the same thing too. But…

It’s just not very good.

The book whizzes by fast enough but in a few chapters it bogs down and it becomes obvious the lack of craft in it’s construction. In that sense, it’s a bit like slowing your car down in GTA V to pay attention to the textures.

I like old books because they present a different world view in simple things how the writer assumes knowledge or opinions in the reader. The dialogue in this one is excessively effusive and romanticised, with even street urchins orating like a philosopher on an Athenian town square. Reading this book felt like finding an old photo album in a musty old attic, giving a picture on how a few long-dead families lived.

I have absolutely no reason to recommend this book. Think of all the Game Of Thrones or 50 Shades Of Grey rip-off me-too books on the shelves of today’s bookstores. This is just an 1800s version of that. I admire this writer’s hustle but he just doesn’t have the original thinking, skilful construction, or lively prose style to say he’s reached Dumas’ level of mastery [3]

If you’d like to read fast-paced adventure stories full of heroes and villains, and even a brief section in Paris, you might like to try my memoirs.

[1] I think, it’s not entirely clear at times because all the characters resurface under new names and the book deliberately makes the reader guess who they are meant to be.
[2] Not Jews, by the way.
[3] The quality gap is large. Infinite, even. [4]
[4] Perhaps that metaphor was overkill.

5 Comments

  1. How do you manage to read a 374 page book in 1 day? How many hours of the day did you spend to achieve the feat? [If you check the free PDF preview on Forgotten Books you’ll see it’s not actually so many words per page. Also, I don’t have a real job, so lots of opportunity to sit reading for hours on end. K.]

  2. I like you Nick but I don’t like the constant bashing of others. Why no credit to Yad, Andy and the daygame.com crew who had the model down before your books? [Don’t tell lies. 1. I gave Yad and Andy very specific credit in my books, such as postscript to Daygame Mastery and sections in Balls Deep and Deplorable Cad. 2. I posted plenty about them here in 2009-12. 3. They didn’t have it down before me. The first edition of Nitro was released the same week Daygame Blueprint was filming. We did the model at the same time (though they were daygaming about 18 months before me). 4. Where in their materials do they give me credit? Tom often did when he worked for them but Andy and Yad didn’t. They’d sometimes acknowledge my existence as a coach/daygamer but I don’t think they ever credited me with developing ideas. So, Peter, stop your lies or you’ll be banned. K.]

    • In the name of fairness and historical accuracy, I remember an early daygame.com seminar where Andy and Yad revealed their Daygame Blueprint model (this was before the Blueprint filming event and the first edition of Nitro). I remember you were there along with Torero and his wing (Rocky?). Do you remember this Nick? [Andy and Yad did some £10 upsell events where they’d present their ideas and sometimes show an infield or two, to draw guys into signing up for coaching. I went to one in the basement of a hotel just off the big grassy square by Regent’s Park tube station. Andy was presenting a prototype of his model there, in the diamond shape with stages in vertical layers. I think it was late 2010, possibly early 2011. I went to at least one earlier event, maybe two, but don’t remember them clearly. The first time I publicly wrote my version of the model was January 2011 on the blog, though like them I was showing early prototypes when coaching in 2010. If anyone wants to try writing a detailed geneology of how the LDM was created, feel free. K.]

  3. rsd tyler, or owen, as he now goes by – guy who gets laid? i’m saying no. he seems super fabulous to me. not that i give a fuck, but some of his shit came onto my youtube feed so i clicked it [I don’t buy it that Tyler gets laid much, but that’s based on gut feel not on any good evidence one way or another. K.]

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