Much like my Jane Eyre review, this one will also be a bit of a mess because I just loved this novel! My first experience with The Count of Monte Cristo was through the 2002 movie starring Jim Caviezel as Edmond Dante (The Count of Monte Cristo). I thought this film was really good, but to my surprise it wasn't quite like the actual novel. The basic plot of being wrongfully imprisoned and then seeking revenge is present in both, but so much more complex in the novel. My image of the Count though while reading was Jim Caviezel.
The book opens in the port city of Marceilles, France with the homecoming of the Pharaon, a merchant ship owned by a man named Morrel. The ship has lost its captain to disease and Edmond Dantes has taken control of the ship in his place. The captain's final wish to Edmond is to deliver a letter to the inmate of the Isle of Elba, who is Napolean Bonaparte. Edmond honors this wish and is given another letter to deliver to Paris. Edmond feels obligated to do this in honor of his dead captain's dying wish. Danglars, the ship's clerk, overhears this transaction and makes plans to use this information against Edmond as he is jealous of him. Upon arriving at Marceilles, Morrel suggests that Edmond take over as captain of the Pharaon permanently, which is a great honor for a nineteen year old man. However, this promotion only makes Danglars more jealous, and he puts his plan in to action.
Edmond meantime visits his father and his true love Mercedes. Everything seems to be going right for him, and this blinds him to people who seek his downfall. Danglars conspires with Fernand, who is in love with Mercedes, to have Dantes arrested for treason. They manage to do this during Edmond's wedding breakfast.
Edmond tells his story to the young deputy magistrate, Villefort, who feels pity for him and believes in his innocence. However, upon looking at the letter Dantes is supposed to deliver to Paris, he discovers that it is addressed to his father, Nortier, a fact that could ruin him politically. Villefort burns the letter and sends Edmond to the notorious prison, The Chateau D'If where Edmond spends the next fourteen years. He manages to escape and to seek his revenge as The Count of Monte Cristo.
This novel is definitely a page turner. His revenge while just, at times goes too far and has some unintended consequences, which he regrets. I think this is part of the reason why I loved this book because Edmond/ The Count maintained a sense of morality in his revenge. He plans his revenge with tunnel vision thinking himself an agent of God. Yet in the reality of pulling it off, he gets sidetracked by other characters who he comes to love, and he must adapt his plans. Awesome, awesome novel!