"A fascinating but strange literary construction"
It is competently read but extremely mannered. I thought at first he was doing it to match the author's pompous language, then I heard him doing something else and his style was the same. After so many hours of listening to it, I found his voice unpleasantly grating.
This is a story of personal revenge plotted and enacted on a monumental scale. It is so well constructed it is like a massive edifice in which stones we see on page 200 hold up towers we visit 900 pages later. It is populated with honourable villains, corrupt aristocrats, suffering innocents, virtuous poor and virtuous rich (not so many of those) and everywhere we see fortunes and reputations made and destroyed.
I found it gruesomely compelling as the story unfolded relentlessly, adorned all the way with witty and wise commentaries on society, providence and the human condition. It is the ultimate expression of the proverb Revenge is a dish best served cold. (I thought Dumas might have been the source of the idea but wikipedia tells me it originated in France a century earlier.)
I make a few observations which are not criticisms but are worth being aware of before you embark on a novel as long as 3-4 ordinary ones.
The story is (presumably by intention) completely unrealistic. There is one particular challenge to the laws of medicine which is so extreme that I wonder if it didn't seem absurd even in Dumas's day.
The narration is extremely stylised. The best way I can explain is to say that it reminded me of Italian opera. Even if you have never seen an opera you will have an idea how far it departs from the dramatic conventions of theatre, expressing instead stylised or archetypal events and feelings. In consequence (and I am not talking about the language) Dumas's novel feels much older than it is. I think it is interesting that it was written within a couple of years of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and David Copperfield, which feel much more modern.
While I don't have a problem with the slow pace, nor the dated style of the language, I did feel frustrated at times with the amount of padding in the description of trivial events and especially in the dialogue. I know that scholars consider his style to be masterful but I don't think they will deny that it feels pedantic compared with the flowing writing of many classic mid 19th century novels.
I enjoyed it and recommend it but, to be honest, 1300 pages was enough for me and I probably won't read his other novels.
"Dumas had a wonderful ghost writer"
The narrator did a fine job vocalizing different characters - no mean feat in a book of this length, and as the book is out of copyright (excepting recent translations) it is available for free off some sites. This means you can read as well as listen if you have an e-book, which I found helpful for a book of this length.
Dumas had an excellent ghost writer, Auguste Maquet, who drafted the plot-lines, which in turn were drawn from true stories of the day. In that sense the book is like any other where the author(s) create fiction from fact. It is nothing more than high melodrama in places, but the count's revenges are so very clever that the melodrama is secondary to the ingenious plot.
John Lee was an authoritative narrator who managed some fine distinctions between characters - in a variety of accents - again, no mean feat when he is reading an English translation and depicting characters with subtle variations in English-with-a-variety-of-French-accents.
"Epic tale of revenge"
To be able to listen for longer periods. I was only able to listen for short periods and I would lose continuity
If you have untold wealth you can do anything and I think the Count of Monte Christo lacked imagination, he wasn't very creative with his plans for revenge which would have made for a more satisfying ending.
"Long, long, long, but a superb narration!"
I would recommend the book, and this particular audio book, to any would be listeners of audio-books and, in particular, classic fiction.
The depiction of extremes in despair, through imprisonment, and seemingly eternal damnation, on to escape, towards a subsequent, aided, rise in status, and absolute, beautifully crafted revenge.
John Lee provided a fantastic narration for this epic novel. I have only heard his part in Audible's Dracula otherwise, with Alan Cummings and Tim Curry. His articulation is very clear and easy to follow, and his characterisations are very well portrayed!
'The film that should have always stayed a book!' (I watched a 2002 film portrayal of the story, I don't know why, I should have known better. A 2hr movie couldn't do it justice, which should go without saying. I believe there is a french series with Gérard Depardieu as Edmond Dantes which, if I am to believe the ratings, should be better, but who knows?)
It really is a very long listen, of course a longer listen than a read would be for most people, however it is well worth going through, with John Lee at the helm.
This is such a difficult book to review. Other reviewers have said this is the most amazing epic story.. It definitely is long, and very complicated. I expect monsieur Dumas had many a family tree, flow chart and spread sheet pinned to his wall as he was writing this to keep track. You may wish to keep notes as you go along.
Fairly simple to explain, a wronged man escapes from prison and cleverly wreaks revenge on his enemies. The plot however is so intricate, but sometimes doesn't flow very well. Some parts jump ahead too far, with the Count changing his name, that you get confused, then other scenes which only consist of one evening being spread over pages. There are some excellent swash-buckling parts, then it seems to suddenly slow down. Not an even pace.
I did not find the narrator easy to listen to. His voices are not different enough to differentiate between two characters if the text doesn't tell you '...said such-a-body', hence losing the gist of the conversation by not knowing who says what.
I was really keen to like this book, sure I would, so am surprised I didn't like it more. Personal taste?
"Wonderful story, brilliantly narrated"
This is a classic. I suppose many are familiar with the basic story, but really abridged versions and hollywood films do not do justice to this tale of betrayal, revenge, cunning, intrigue and ultimately resolution. Hard to do it justice in a review, but will definitely be listening to this again.
Although the story is around 40 hours long, but it is so well paced, that you don't notice. And in fact, do not want the book to end, yet at the same time are keen to know how the story eventually ends.
Great piece of narration. I particularly like the way John Lee does the voice of Monsieur Noitier, who can only speak with his eyes.
"Wrath of The Wronged"
As gripping a tale of betrayal and revenge as one could hope for. The rich cast of characters, ranging from the morally decrepit to the unerringly loyal, are in turns savagely exposed layer by layer or enriched with further depths and histories as the plot progresses.
There's a lot on offer here, satire of courtly power struggles and royal loyalties, family ties, greed, old vendettas, the desperation of the falsely accused... All of these aspects and more are explored through the ever evolving central figure of Edmond Dantes, as his many tiered plans of revenge are revealed piece by terrifying piece.
Wonderfully and forcefully read by John Lee - A great production.
"Unexpectedly one of my best audible books"
Not the sort of book I would normally listen to, but I enjoyed it so much (all 52 hours) that when I reached the end, I went straight back to the start and listened to it again. Something I have never done before. It was even better the second time. The story is so clever with every chapter being of significance to the plot. I will certainly listen to more by Alexandre Dumas.
The narrator, John Lee, is brilliant. His speech is clear and easy on the ear and his French pronunciation added so much to the enjoyment of this epic book.
"Outstanding Monte Christo"
I have been totally enthralled by this version of the classic Count of Monte Christo, it is truly spellbinding and the descriptions are so evocative that you would think you were there, I find myself making excuses to listen to more and more.
A really outstanding listen.
"A great classic"
I really enjoyed listening to this great classic about the determination of the count to devise appropriate retribution for the people who wronged.