OMG!! Despite the fact that Peter & I have been discussing what book to read next for about a week and we did a chapter countdown, I am having a hard time dealing with the fact that it's over. :'(
There was ONE chapter in this book that I did not like. And the rest I adored. This book captivated both Peter & I by the first half of the first chapter. I had been lugging it around with me for the last 10+ years, not knowing the treasures that lay within it. I almost took it to a swap meet without even reading it. I said to Peter, "It's 1300 pages, written in 19th century France, about [read him description off the back cover]. I don't know...what do you think? It's so long!" Peter said, "1300 pages, that's like, what, two Harry Potters?" So we decided to keep it. And then we started reading it and :D :D :D
Peter was more captivated by the writing style, which he found "elegant" and some words I forget, conveying the nature of the respectable and polite language (for example, "I have already had the pleasure to answer yes"). For some reason, he gave me his rating on a four-star scale: four stars for writing and three for plot--he didn't really love the themes of revenge, grudges, anger, etc. But he did like other threads running through it, like God/Providence, the Count's expressions, eating habits, how he shifts from being Edmond into being the Count and how those two characters are tragically not really the same person.
Personally I LOVED both. I was so into what's going to happen next, guessing this or that. We also had fun dissecting characters' personalities and motivations. The book made its way into our daily language--"You don't think she'll pull a Madame de Villefort, do you?" or "Well the house looks expensive and nice on the outside, but who knows if they decorate like Danglars or not" and such.
This morning Peter said, "Do you want to reread the Count of Monte Cristo?!" I'm sure it will happen eventually ;D Peter told me a few weeks back that after we were done with it, he didn't want to read any classics, anything that was critically acclaimed, or "good or trying to be good," as he put it. It's like that book-depression thing where anything you read after is tainted by the comparison you make against the beloved book that you've finished. So we've elected for some genre fiction.
So so so glad we read this, it was an awesome ride and very enjoyable, and quite accessible.