…is my current obsession. I live and breathe this book right now. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read this book, all ~1300 pages, each time as mesmerized by the words as the first. This is the book that ruined all future books for me. No other book that I’ve read since reading this one has been anything but a disappointment. That is just how great this book is. The Count of Monte Cristo is a story about a naïve young man enjoying good fortune in his career and love life who gets super screwed over by enemies unseen to him because they masqueraded as his friends. He loses everything and almost his own life as he spends years in the depths of despair. But he rises years later as the Count of Monte Cristo, obscenely rich and powerful, with only one goal, which is to exact revenge on those who had so horribly wronged him in the past. And this revenge, which is so calculated and so clean, is what I admire most about this book—he doesn’t go out and pick duels with his enemies—rather, he uses his knowledge of their weaknesses and the predictability of human nature to ultimately cause the downfall of each of his enemies by their own hands. All he does is set everything in motion. As much as he is consumed by his revenge, he takes great care to direct it only at those who deserve it and shows the utmost compassion and outright love for those dear to him, which helps to awaken his heart turned cold by his quest for revenge. And he sticks to his principles to the very end, which is something I admire and aspire to.

I originally read this book in its abridged version and somehow was not turned off to it as it is but a mere shadow of the real story. Quite the opposite, I was so enthralled by this tale that I ran out and bought the unabridged version just so that the story would not end so soon. And what I found is that only by reading the unabridged version is one truly able to appreciate the full extent of how masterfully this story was written and all of its nuances. I always dread and regret getting to page ~1300 and reading the final lines of this book because I am never ready for the story to end. I simply don’t want it to end. I want to follow the Count’s exploits even after his revenge is achieved. I want to be assured that he ultimately achieves the happiness he so deserves.

Ever since falling in love with this book, I’ve waited for there to be a movie that could capture the spirit of this book. Such a movie does not exist. The most current version is a horrible disappointment as it rewrites what I love most about the book: the manner in which the revenge is exacted and the ending. Recently though, my husband came across a Japanese anime series version of the book called Gankutsuou, which we watched quite obsessively. Even though it starts somewhere in the middle of the book, takes place in the far future, is told from Albert de Morcerf’s point of view, gets some things horribly wrong, and makes the Count out to be basically evil (though there is a good reason for this portrayal, which is revealed at the end), it is the closest that anything I’ve seen so far has gotten to portraying the true nature of the book. So although I walked away quite disappointed by the ending of the series (which by the way, was created as an interpretation of the book and is not intended to be an accurate depiction), I recommend it to anyone who would like to see the truest to the book adaptation of this most wonderful book. And if not for that, the anime has some great music, namely the opening song, which in its sad but tacit acceptance of the Count’s fate, really captures the essence of the book. I’m currently working at slowly and painfully learning to play the song on the piano.

I’ve been wronged many times in my life by people who had no reason to wrong me save for the fact that they were jealous of me and the life that I lead. How I wish I could exact a revenge that is even half of what the Count of Monte Cristo was able to achieve. Until then, I will keep reading this most fascinating tale over and over again to be consoled that at least he was able to achieve his revenge.

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