For about a month now, J and I have been making our way slowly through The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas for my book club. In general, the prose is excellent and occasionally quite funny, and the characters are compelling, and I think it’s fair to say we’re both enjoying it more than not. And yet, we’re 684 pages into this 1620 page novel and fully understanding for the first time why readers might be tempted to read an abridged version of a book.
For instance, there is a section where the titular Count meets some young men in Rome who become very important to the story. There’s some colorful and exciting incidents in this section, which also serves as a bit of travelogue, but we both felt exhausted every time we reached the end of a chapter in this section. It could easily have been cut in half. But, hey, Dumas was paid by the line, and clearly when he wrote this section he had a boat payment to make.
It’s actually rather annoying. I don’t dislike any particular part of the novel, because the writing is excellent and it is exceptionally readable, but I can’t help feeling as though I would like it more without the bloat. (Example. “But let me tell you in detail about this thing the reader just finished reading!”) Perhaps an abridgment is in order, because I now have under a month to get through 1,000 more pages.
So, that’s why I need to keep this short. So much reading, so little time. But we didn’t want anyone to think we’d forgotten about the blog over the holidays. We should be back to regular posting now, and for the sake of my reading sanity, I hope to return to the Persuasion live read soon. I need something a bit more concise in my life at the moment.