I usually read several novels per week. I am a fast reader who loves books, so that’s not a challenge for me. For the past two weeks, however, I’ve read almost exclusively from one book and I’m still not done with it. Never before have I recommended a book I’ve not finished, but as I race toward the end of this one, I’m quite confident it’s a winner.
After all, this classic has been celebrated for more than 100 years. The title? “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas.
My interest in “The Count” began some time ago, when I visited a speed reading course at the Air Force Academy. One of the cadets in the class held up his copy of “The Count” and declared it the best book he’d ever read. And apparently, this lad was a big reader.
What struck me most about his declaration, though, was the size of the book he held. My copy of “The Count” — the translation is by Robin Buss — is more than 1,2000 pages long. Years ago, I dated (and later married) a cadet. For my now husband to have read a 1,200-page book during his cadet years, the book would have required spellbinding qualities.
Well, “The Count” is near spellbinding. I keep describing it to friends as “an artful, masterful soap opera.” The book’s main character, Edmond Dantès, is a young French sailor when the book begins. He is a good man with great prospects. He is young, in love, and about to marry, when he is unjustly accused of a political crime and imprisoned. Edmond remains in solitary confinement, plotting his revenge, when another prisoner, Abbé Faria, digs through a wall into Edmond’s cell. Under fantastic circumstances and with help from Abbé Faria, Edmond escapes.
Once free, Edmond searches for a hidden treasure, the location of which Abbé Faria provides. Whether Edmond finds the treasure and exacts revenge on his enemies is up to you to find out — provided you have the stamina to read over 1,000 pages.
I know I’ll finish the book, because it’s a fun and addictive read. “The Count” has also inspired me to re-examine more classics in the coming new year, and I urge you to do the same. Books that seemed like chores back in high school, now resemble the treasure Edmond so desperately put his faith in.