I’m not sure how many of these The Count Of Monte Cristo knock-off fake sequels I want to read. Why couldn’t Dumas have just written a real sequel to his best book? It’s not like he was shy about creating epic series, is it? So I thought The Son Of Monte Cristo wasn’t half bad and a quick perusal of Forgotten Books shows me there is also an Edmund Dantes book, a Wife Of Monte Cristo, a Monte Cristo’s Daughter, and of course this The Countess Of Monte Cristo. Sadly there appears to be no Dog Of Monte Cristo nor a Count Of Monte Cristo With Zombies.
This book is a load of shit. I looked it up on teh interwebs to see what other people have said of it and I can’t find a goddamn thing. The one review I found on the whole of the internet was this, on Goodreads. It’s literally the entire review:
“Man struggle to be somebody, take a revenge to all that make him life in suffer.”
So, mostly harmless. Well, I think he was actually reviewing the Count not the Countess, as he’s summarised the plot to the original book not this one. Therefore, no reviews at all. Imagine my surprise when I see there were three different The Countess Of Monte Cristo movies released in 1932, 1934, and 1948 respectively. That’s promising, or is it? No, just have a look at the plot synopsis of the first: “Two struggling actresses are hired as extras to drive an expensive car while dressed in fancy outfits. Stopping at a winter resort they decide to pass themselves off as part of the wealthy set, one of them declaring herself to be the “Countess of Monte Cristo””
That’s got absolutely nothing to do with the book. The 1934 movie is likewise: “In Austria a struggling actress borrows the fancy clothes and car from her film set, and goes to stay in a luxury hotel under the name “Countess of Monte Cristo”.” The 1948 movie is a meta-level comedy about actresses auditioning to make a movie like the first two. Weird. It couldn’t be more ridiculous if they’d made a Disney On Ice out of it.
The book The Countess Of Monte Cristo was published within a thirty-volume set of Alexandre Dumas’ works in 1902 by P.F. Collier of New York despite the fact Dumas had nothing to do with writing this one. It’s all in public domain now so you can get the set of PDFs here, of which this book is volume 26. I don’t recommend it.
The plot is something about a rich count being killed by his servants in the prologue in order to steal his fortune, casting his kids out and framing his wife for murder. She gets out of prison and with the help of an escaped wood-cutter’s boy, plots revenge in Paris. That’s all in volume one which I reviewed here. Volume two picks up without pause and it’s mostly about closing out the revenge plot. Despite concentrating very hard I struggled to follow it, mainly because every character has multiple names because they are all taking on false identities. Thus the original criminal conspirators all took on new identities in Paris, including the main beneficiary who became Baron Matifay, the richest businessman in France. The Countess herself is referred to by that title in scenes where her mask is off around her fellows, but then she’s called Helene when dealing with her lost daughter, Aurele when dealing with Legigant / Hercules Champion (a scumbag), and Widow Lamoroux when dealing with one Madame Rozel. Her main helper has multiple names too.
Look, I’m not smart enough for this shit.
The book is also badly hobbled by it’s effusive romanticism. Each character floats weightlessly six inches above the pavement lost in swirls of melodrama. After taking five hundred pages to rescue her lost daughter, the Countess is overcome with emotion…. and suddenly said daughter dies of a broken heart because she’s in love with helper Joseph who loves another. Wait, what? Yes, some teenage girl just ups and dies of a broken heart. She doesn’t kill herself or anything vaguely believable, but rather expires in a melodramatic flourish.
Dumas’ original book was a powerful tale of carefully-plotted revenge with an absolutely epic payoff at the end. This hack job tries to construct an equally complex revenge but it makes so little sense. The Countess already possesses the official documents necessary to prove her and her son’s rightful claim to the stolen fortune. Her helpers are hidden behind multiple secure identities. The targets of her vengeance are shifty criminals who are frequently drunk and alone in bad parts of town. It’s not like the Countess has any scruples, as she intends to lock one of them in a secret room and starve him to death.
So, why not just get Joseph to knife them in a back alley? Could’ve had everything handled in a weekend without any of this precarious bullshit. I dunno….. look, it’s just shit. I enjoyed reading it purely as a research exercise in how hack fiction was in 19th Century France. Kind of like taking a bus to Wales to see how cross-eyed sheep-shaggers live. You wouldn’t want to stay.
It’s no exaggeration to say my own books are far better than this tosh. Have a look at them here.