I've now listened to three marathon audiobooks narrated by John Lee: this one and Ken Follet's two medieval historical novels. Easily over 100 hours listening to one narrator, but I keep wanting more. In this instance, Monte Cristo is one of my favorite novels, and this is unquestionably the best way to experience it.
48 hours of a Classic French literature, translated into impeccable English prose, convincingly delivered by narrator John Lee, all for 1 Audible credit? Clearly, one of the best values in audiobooks to be found anywhere.
Choosing the unabridged version was a good choice. I could have missed out a lot if I did otherwise. It's a fairy tale, and yet, it is so real, full of life saga and wisdom. Already I knew the story through movie, and yet, the book still brought incomparable joy. After listening to the book, I decided to find myself a hard copy. The text is so poetic. I would read it again. Alexandre Dumas is unique in the way he can make us pondering about life, without having one word of dry preaching. Life comes out of his book full of love and sufferings. As it's been said, once one started, one cannot stop reading until reaching the end.
Last but not least, the narrator is truly a great one. He too, deserves a lot of credit.
I've always wanted to read this book. Since I was 17 years of age. Finding a copy was the hardest part. Most copies were in abridged form or else French, which I only recently learnt to speak. So this recording was a godsend. It's well read, extremely interesting and inspiring. Well worth a listen and the pace and content, although belonging to another era, bring a wonderful sense of authenticity to the story.
...and the guy says, "With a lawn as big as yours, you really need a riding mower." I smiled, knowing I had the perfect counterargument to his sales pitch. "That's ok, I have an iPod and I just started The Count of Monte Cristo."
As the words left my mouth I realized I just forfeited any chance I had that this guy would treat me as a man and a brother. In the horsepower-and-self-propulsion world of your average lawnmower shop, literary discussions are not the ticket to respect. I imaged the thought that was forming under his feed cap: "What a dweeb."
Instead, his jaw dropped, his eyes popped and he said "That's a great book! I read the unabridged version, and there's a lot of detail, but it's just fantastic!"
A few weeks later I was catching the train to work. A guard I've become friendly with was supervising the restocking of the vending machines. My train wasn't for a few minutes so I made a detour. After a few casual remarks about the weather the guard noticed the iPod clipped to my jacket and asked what I was listening to. I said The Count of Monte Cristo, with that same shrinking feeling I had at the lawnmower emporium. But the vending guy stood bolt upright, his eyes wide and his hair a-bristle: "That's a great book!"
I was now convinced I was the only person in the universe who hadn't read The Count of Monte Cristo. And thanks to John Lee and Audible, that flaw in an otherwise blameless upbringing has now been repaired.
Yes, it includes everything I don't like about 19th Century novels (Jane Austen excluded): it is sloppily, even glutinously sentimental. It is overwrought. It is insanely improbable. It is Gothic. It is Romantic in that overly-ripe, Victorian/Dickensian way that gets under my skin.
And it is also one of the greatest books I have ever read. Or listened to.
For all its improbabilities it is true to life. For all it's sentimentality it almost moved me to tears. For all its Gothic cloak-and-dagger antics it is a profoundly, even beautifully Catholic work of literature. It is a big, baggy story full of cul-de-sacs and blind corners, memorable characters and quotable sentences. Yes, the good people are a little too saintly and the bad ones a shade too bad. But what holds it all together is the Count himself. What he suffers, what he does and, finally, what he learns about revenge, forgiveness and redemption are well worth the 56 hour journey. And the lawn looks really good, too.
John Lee's clean, clear delivery seldom falters. In a six-part audiobook I needed to back up and re-listen only a handful of times to catch something I'd missed. Sometimes the male characters get a little mixed, but that's to be expected in conversations where 4 or 5 are speaking at once. And an invaluable aid to keeping the story straight is supplied by Dumas himself. Since the novel was originally serialized, he's always reminding us of when we last saw a character he's reintroducing to the story--knowing that the newspaper with that vital information has long since been wrapped around a fish in a Parisian gutter.
I got this one on sale, but even at full price it is a bargain.
This is one of the longest audiobooks I've tackled, and it was worth every minute. John Lee keeps things roaring along at a fast pace throughout; and Alexandre Dumas packs the story with more incident than any one story has a right to have. (The various film versions have only scratched the surface.) It's more than an adventure story. It's a gripping morality tale as well, and it doesn't end quite the way you'd expect.
One of the more gripping parts of the story is actually one of the most static, in terms of external action: the account of the paralyzed revolutionary Noitier and his efforts to communicate with his granddaughter by blinking his eyes. John Lee gives "voice" to this effort, and to the character, with great determination and compassion. A terrific listen.
I have read the Count at least 3 times, not including the audio version I just completed, and this rendition is wonderful. The narrator does a very commendable job, I will listen to this again and again.
Excellent reviews and an Audible sale prompted me to buy The Count of Monte Cristo. I’d read one chapter in a French II class decades ago. I mistakenly thought the novel was about a guy languishing in prison. I knew I wasn’t going to like it. But I mostly listen to classics and Audible reviewers had raved. So, after months of sitting in my Audible library, I finally downloaded the first part. Wow.
At 47 hours with foreign names and places, it’s a commitment, but when it ended I wished for more. I’ve “read” dozens of Audible books and this one of my top five favorites. John Lee’s narration: impeccable.
I listened while I cleaned, while I cooked, while I drove, while I was supposed to be sleeping…
This complex story with its fascinating cast of characters knocked me out.
This is a wonderful book read by one of my favorite narrators. This story is so full of love, hatred, revenge, nobility, and friendship. It keeps you enthralled through its long hours and meandering twists and turns. Do not be put off by the time investment required to get through the many hours of listening. What a great way to spend 40+ hours, and what a bargain for that credit you are looking to spend!