Dashing young Edmond DantÃƒÂ¨s, a sailor from Marseilles, France, has everything. At age nineteen, he is engaged to a beautiful woman named Mercedes, is about to become the captain of a ship, and is well liked by almost everyone. But in 1815, the fateful year of Napoleon's brief return to power, he unknowingly carries a politically incriminating letter home, merely as a favor to his dying captain, and his perfect life is shattered when he is framed by jealous rivals-Danglars, who wants his position as captain; Fernand, who wants his girlfriend; and the deputy procrureur de Villefort, who wants to keep secret the fact that his father, to whom the letter was addressed, is a Napoleonist. As a result of their betrayal, Dantes is thrown into a dark prison cell at the ChÃƒÂ¢teau d'If for fourteen years. There he befriends a fellow-prisoner, the AbbÃƒÂ© Faria, and learns of a vast fortune on the island of Monte Cristo. Following the Abbe's death, Dantes escapes, locates the fortune, and becomes "the Count of Monte Cristo."
Several years later, the Count comes to Paris where all three of his betrayers now live. Danglars is a rich banker. Fernand, who married Mercedes, is now the Count de Morcerf. And de Villefort is the chief procureur of the King. Dantes seeks both justice and revenge. How will he go about achieving his goals? And what will be the results? The Count of Monte Cristo began serialization in the Journal des DÃƒÂ©bats in 1844 and was published in book form in 1846, shortly after Dumas's most famous book, The Three Musketeers, and did even better than its predecessor. The book is not for young children. There are several references to drinking alcohol and using tobacco. The language is not too bad, but the words "God" and "Lord" are occasionally used as interjections. Three individuals contemplate suicide, and two other individuals actually commit it. One instance of ballroom dancing occurs. While no overt sex scenes are described, as in The Three Musketeers, a couple of references to men who have mistresses are found. A character literally goes insane. Seventh grade and up is suggested for the reading level.
While some might see only justice in thwarting the plans of evil men, revenge is clearly and obviously the theme of the story. However, there are instances where Dantes in mercy relents from his desire for revenge, and in the end he learns that seeking vengeance can cause some unintended yet hurtful consequences for those whom he loves. References to seeking God's will and trusting in the Lord abound. The beginning and ending are both quite exciting; the middle drags a bit slowly and is a little confusing with all the new names, but, of course, the information is necessary in understanding the conclusion. In Homeschooling Today magazine, Betty Burger wrote, "This story's plot is crafted so superbly and intricately that nothing can be left out without damaging the story. Read an unabridged version. It is worth all 123 chapters." Well, if you have infinite wealth to afford a book with 1000+ pages and unlimited time to devote to reading it, that is all right, but for those of us who are lacking in both funds and time, the abridged version, in which the removed sections are explained in brief detail by footnotes, is satisfactory.show more
by Wayne S. Walker