The story begins
For this One Book, One Community program, we encourage everyone to participate however they wish. The Count of Monte Cristo is available in many formats including book, e-book, audio book, junior edition, abridged versions, and graphic novel. This blog will serve as a summary of the complete book as listed below.
In my opinion, the chapters are manageable but it takes some time to figure out who the characters are. The story is full of history and geographic references, so I've added hyperlinks to other websites if you're interested in reading more.
Thanks for visiting the blog and feel free to comment about your impressions of the book.
The Count of Monte Cristo
Everyman’s Library Edition, 2009
Chapter 1: The Arrival at Marseilles
Our story begins in 1815 aboard the ship Pharaon in the port of Marseilles (France). Shipowner Morrel listens to Edmond Dantes, second in command, tell of the captain’s death at sea. While Dantes steps away, a jealous sailor, Danglers, tells Morrel that after Dantes took command, the ship made a stop at the Isle of Elba (Italy)—the place of Napoleon’s exile. Danglers reports that Dantes received a letter during the stop and that he is delivering the letter to Paris. Morrel tells Dantes it is his wish to name him captain. Dantes happily leaves the ship to see his father and his fiancée, Mercedes.
Chapter 2: Father and Son
Edmond Dantes arrives at his father’s small house to find him in poor health. Old Dantes explains that he had little money left after paying a debt to his neighbor, Caderousse. Caderousse hears of Edmond’s return and comes to visit. Caderousse and Danglers meet outside the house, they see Mercedes with her cousin, Fernand.
Chapter 3: The Catalans
Danglers and Caderousse drink wine at a café near Mercedes house, where Mercedes and Fernand are talking. Fernand has hoped for ten years that Mercedes would be his wife. Mercedes says she is in love with Edmond Dantes. Edmond arrives at the house and is introduced to Fernand. Edmond extends his hand to greet her cousin, but Fernand leaves the house in anger. Caderousse, Danglers and Fernand drink wine together at the café. Caderousse gets drunk, Fernand is overwhelmed with love and Danglers plans revenge on Dantes. Edmond and Mercedes stop to tell the men that they will be married tomorrow.
Chapter 4: The Plotters
Danglers and Fernand talk about their hate for Edmond Dantes. Caderousse listens and continues to drink. Danglers writes a letter accusing Dantes of being an agent of Napoleon. He says that Dantes is carrying a letter from Napoleon to Paris. Danglers throws the letter into a corner and leaves with Caderousse. Fernand picks up the letter after they leave.
Chapter 5: The Betrothal Feast
Friends, family and Pharaon crew gather to celebrate the upcoming wedding of Edmond and Mercedes. The feast includes sausages, lobster, prawns, sea urchins, clams and wine. Edmond reveals that he plans to marry, travel to Paris and back, then hold a marriage feast. Fernand looks uncomfortable and pale as he waits for something. The door opens revealing a magistrate and soldiers with an order of arrest for Dantes. Morrel questions the magistrate, Dantes’ father begs the men to leave his son alone, Caderousse asks Danglers about the letter, and Fernand leaves. Dantes is taken away by carriage, Morrel follows him, while Dantes’ father and Mercedes comfort each other and Fernand reappears. Morrel returns and says that Dantes has been accused of being a Bonapartist agent. Mercedes cries, Caderousse realizes the accusation came from the letter Danglers wrote at the café. Fernand takes Mercedes home. Morrel names Danglers ship captain.
Chapter 6: The Deputy Procureur
As Dantes is being arrested, another betrothal feast, celebrating those of a higher class, takes place for Villefort and Renee. Talk of the fallen Emperor Napoleon on the Isle of Elba and of the reinstated King Louis XVIII dominates the conversation. Villefort, a royalist and magistrate, has disowned his father, Noirtier, because he is a Napoleonist. The party is interrupted as Villefort receives a letter regarding Edmond Dantes, a sailor on the Pharaon, who delivered a letter to the Isle of Elba and received a letter to take to Paris. Villefort leaves the party to deal with the situation as Renee begs him to be merciful on their feast day.
Chapter 7: The Examination
Villefort arrives at his house to find Morrel, who pleads for kindness regarding Dantes. Villefort promises to be impartial. Villefort enters the house where he meets young Dantes for the first time. Dantes is calm, polite and without political opinion. He expresses his love for his father, his respect for his boss, Morrel, and his adoration for Mercedes. Villefort shows Dantes the letter of accusation, then asks what happened on his journey aboard the Pharaon. Dantes says that the captain, upon his death, gave an order to sail to the Isle of Elba, disembark, ask for the grand marshal, give him a letter and do whatever the grand marshal asked. Dantes received a letter from the grand marshal to be delivered to Paris. Villefort believes Dantes followed orders as instructed, asks for the letter and agrees to release Dantes. Villefort is shocked when he sees that the letter is addressed to Monsieur Noirtier, Villefort’s father. Villefort reads the letter then burns it. He tells Dantes not to speak of the letter and says he will be detained briefly. Dantes senses that something is wrong but agrees not to speak of the letter and hopes to be released soon.
Chapter 8: The Chateau d'If
Dantes is put in a cell to wait, then taken by carriage to a boat. Edmond is relieved to breathe the fresh night air and to find he is unrestrained. The boat passes Mercedes house and Edmond can see the light in her room. He begs to know where the men are taking him. They tell him they are heading to Chateau d‘If, a fortress for political prisoners. Dantes tries to throw himself into the water but is restrained. Upon reaching the fortress, Dantes is put into a chamber for the night with bread, water and fresh straw. Dantes repeatedly asks to see the governor but is denied. Dantes cries, barely eats, rages, and tries to bribe then threatens the jailer. The jailer throws Dantes into the dungeon.
Chapter 9: The Evening of the Betrothal
Villefort returns to the feast to tell Renee he has to leave for Paris. Mercedes waits outside to question Villefort about the charges against Dantes and ask where he is. Villefort tells Mercedes that Dantes is a criminal and that he doesn’t know where he is, then heads to Paris. Mercedes grieves for Dantes. Villefort can’t get the image of Dantes out of his mind. Morrel tries to get help from influential friends, but no one will assist an accused Bonapartist. Caderousse drinks wine, Danglers is happy and old Dantes is overwhelmed with anxiety.
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Crystal Phillips has been the Library Director at Cook Public Library since 2014.