Something for everyone and you really don't notice the length.
When you think of 19th Century novels, what probably comes to mind is a group of stuffy rich people sat around doing nothing in particular; long, dense passages of prose; ladies swooning and fainting over the slightest thing; and everything ending in a predictable, happy marriage. What doesn’t come to mind is: bandits, duals, betrayals, false imprisonments, a female serial poisoner, torture and execution, a stabbing, multiple suicides, drug-induced hallucinations, or lesbianism. And yet, all this and more can be found in Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo.
The book tells the story of Edmund Dantés, who is imprisoned for a crime he did not commit. While locked away he learns of an enormous fortune hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo, and determines to escape prison, unearth this treasure, and use it to plot the downfall of the three men who had him jailed. What follows is an epic tale of revenge and lost love, of forbidden romance and murderous plots, of mysterious characters and charming ones, of foul villains and misunderstood bad-guys, all wrapped up in the intrigues of Parisian society.
The Count of Monte Cristo’s plot is insane (fantastic, but entirely bonkers), and the only thing you can do is let it sweep you up and carry you at breakneck speed to its end. The actual writing of the book is the same. Dumas is a master of the un-put-down-able novel (he also wrote The Three Musketeers, basically the adventure novel), and in The Count of Monet Cristo he shows why. At the same time Dumas hurls plot at you like some kind of demented tennis-ball machine, ramping tensions up to breath-taking levels, and dropping one-liners that, for an old book, are still pretty funny. Dumas’ writing is elegant, sublime, and quite beautiful. It’s a long book (over a thousand pages), but while you are reading you don’t notice the length, it absorbs you, and chunks of pages can vanish in a single sitting.
There really is something for everyone here, from strong female characters to big, thematic messages (in short, revenge isn’t necessarily the best thing). If you like romance, but can’t sit through page after page of Jane Austen, read this book. If you like mysteries, but can’t wait for the next season of Sherlock, read this book. If you like excitement, but don’t have the money to go jump off a mountain, read this book. The Count of Monte Cristo has everything: it’s a thriller, it’s an adventure story, it’s a love story, and it is, undoubtedly, a classic.