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The Count of Monte Cristo.

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Penguin Books

Penguin Putnam Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

0140449264, $14.00

Master Of The Chapter-Ending Hook

If the hey-hey-ho-ho-western-culture's-got-to-go crowd ever succeeds, they'll have to ban THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO because it positively breathes the West down to its Christian, Eurocentric heart. It deals with themes like suffering, vengeance, and forgiveness; has settings like the catacombs in Rome where Christians once hid from their persecutors; and gives us a character, Edmond Dantes, who resurrects as Cristo.

Although it's more than a thousand pages, Alexandre Dumas doesn't wait until page 200 to get the story going. He hooks the reader first chapter, and by the third chapter, has laid out the major conflicts and plot points.

Hook is the mot juste, too. Dumas is the master par excellence of the chapter-ending hook, a device that makes pages flip by in a flash. Also making this monster book move quickly are his long sprightly sections of character-revealing, plot-moving dialogue.

Dumas impresses with the breadth of his knowledge and the scope of his interests, even if he routinely hired assistants to do his research.

Though beautifully plotted, the book has one major flaw, the Count's dumping of Mercedes for a much younger woman, and his one-paragraph explanation for doing so. It seems a disappointing payoff after Dumas gives us one of the greatest setups in all literature, Dantes's wrongful imprisonment on the island prison of the Chateau d'If. The memory of his beloved Mercedes helped him endure 18 years in solitary confinement.
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Author:Smagacz, Geoffrey
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2008
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