Bonsoir mes amis et bienvenue sur le blog pour la cinquième semaine du ‘Le Comte de Monte Cristo’.
For those unaware of the reason for my (frankly shoddy) French, I am currently taking part in Laura from Reading In Bed‘s 2018 summer readalong for Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. To catch up, check out my sign-up post, my week one update, my week two update, my week three update, and my week four update which will bring you up to speed with summaries of the first eighty chapters of the book. You can also see how I’m doing (or not doing) every single day, by checking out my reading progress spreadsheet and I’m also updating periodically in a Twitter thread, using the hashtag #TheFullMonte.
Guess who didn’t learn from the last couple of weeks and left all her reading until the weekend like an idiot? This girl! My poor life choices are nothing if not consistent… (I also had the excuse of the NEWTs readathon this time)
- We left The Count of Monte Cristo last week with Doctor d’Avrigny suspecting that Valentine was poisoning her relatives, even though Madame de Villefort is clearly the evil stepmother stereotype of the piece. I wonder if this week will bring revelations of this nature.
- Elsewhere, over at the Danglars household, Andrea Cavalcanti is paying a visit to let Danglars know just how much he wants to marry his daughter, Eugenie. Except it’s less about Eugenie and more about how much money both she and Andrea could be worth combined… and, unsurprisingly, Danglars practically has dollar signs in his eyes at this point.
- After declaring love at the Danglars household, Cavalcanti goes home via Caderousse’s place (in disguise obv) and the two of them talk about money. You know, it’s almost like the world revolves around money.
- Cavalcanti reveals in confidence that he thinks he’s found his real father… the Count of Monte Cristo! Caderousse seems less impressed by this idea but, as Andrea tells him, Monte Cristo is so loaded that there’s just money lying around everywhere at his house, no. 30 Avenue des Champs-Elysees. Idk man I don’t think I’d give a known thief the address at which to try to rob the Count, because something tells me he’d be expecting it and it would be Not A Good Idea.
- Luckily (who could have foreseen this??) some anonymous do-gooder sends the Count a letter warning him that a thief is going to try to break into his bureau and steal some papers. What’s a guy to do? Obviously, you pretend to up and leave, with all your servants, leaving the house completely empty and prime target for a thief. But have no fear, the Count and faithful Ali sneak back in and hide in his secret compartment of his dressing room, waiting for the thief to strike.
- Right on time Caderousse climbs in the window and starts making some kind of key to break into the bureau so the Count calmly grabs the clothes necessary for the abbé disguise and walks in on Caderousse in the act as Abbé Busoni, the guy that helped Caderousse and Benedetto to not be sentenced and punished, remember? He’s all ‘oh how dare you steal, clearly I was wrong to help you, God is sad’ etc. but Caderousse pleads for him not to turn him in. Knowing that he has an accomplice outside keeping watch on the house, the Count says ‘if you make it home ok tonight I will see it as God’s plan that he wanted you to get off scot free, if not, then that’s your own fault’. That sounds ominous.
- The abbé lets Caderousse out by the window, he’s briefly illuminated, and then when Caderousse escapes and starts climbing over the wall, he’s stabbed by someone! (I presume the accomplice, who thinks he’s double crossing? I don’t even know. All I know is Caderousse is rolling around on the floor all ‘DEATH IS COMING’. Fair enough, he’s probably being suitably dramatic considering he’s been stabbed three times.
- Abbé Busoni rushes out to help bleeding Caderousse and tries to make him be repentant and realise he’s had a pretty bloody charmed life, all things considered (stabbing notwithstanding). Caderousse, despite being in the middle of dying, has time to affirm that he doesn’t believe in God or Providence and that everything is just chance. Nah, mate, haven’t you read the precis of this book, nothing is by chance.
- Naturally, an abbé hearing someone deny God wouldn’t be too pleased, and neither is this fake one. But Monte Cristo turns all avenging god and dramatic and pulls off his wig all ‘don’t you… recognise me?!’ and Caderousse is all ‘gasp! Lord Wilmore!’ Nom you idiot, you’re still not getting it. Seriously why isn’t anyone in this book able to recognise anyone for shit?!
- Luckily, Caderousse dies and quite ominously Monte Cristo mutters “one”. Calm down there, dude, stop counting the deaths of people who have wronged you with such obvious glee.
- In a short chapter that completely disrupts the lovely action-packed pace of the previous chapters, we return to Albert who is waiting for Beauchamp’s return and confirmation that he was wrong to suggest Morcerf was the “Fernand” who betrayed Ali Pasha. Surprise surprise Beauchamp returns and tells him he was right and that Albert’s dad was indeed that Fernand. Understandably, Albert is a bit distraught by this news, but his main concern is on making sure it doesn’t become public knowledge. Beauchamp tries to reassure a very worked up Albert and suggests stopping by the Count of Monte Cristo’s place. Albert gamely agrees because he likes Monte Cristo. (Oh, you’re so easily led you sweet summer child.)
- Albert’s feeling glum so he and Monte Cristo go on a weekend mini-break/lads holiday. Albert is very impressed by the speed of Monte Cristo’s horses. They shoot things and fish and ride and have a jolly old time at one of the count’s houses (I forget which one).
- Then, all the revelry is interrupted by a letter from Paris for Albert (because who could have seen this coming except from everyone ever) with news that Fernand has been outed by a newspaper as the betrayer of Ali Pasha.
- The House puts Morcerf on trial(ish) and various evidence is presented but the killer is Haydeé arrives and tells everyone that she remembers Fernand and gives a very convincing account of the night of her dad’s death. So I guess it makes sense that they’d trust this random lady who rocks up.
- Albert is determined to be angry at someone and thinks Danglars is the target but Danglars says it was Monte Cristo who told him to write to Janina about his future son-in-law’s family. It’s been 969 pages and only now is someone (who isn’t a woman) suspicious of Monte Cristo.
- So obviously Albert storms off to the opera to have it out loudly and publicly with Monte Cristo. But Monte Cristo is so calm and cool that he even has time to quip when Albert accuses him of being unavailable: “I am not hard to find, Monsieur…Only yesterday, unless my memory deceives me, you were staying in my house.” Touché.
- Monte Cristo pretends like he has no idea what Albert is on and Morrel has to restrain Albert from throwing his glove in Monte Cristo’s face. (The whole etiquette of duels is so silly and OTT and I love this shit) Despite Morrel restraining Albert, Monte Cristo still reaches and snatches his glove from him, accepting the challenge, oh so coolly, and then goes back to watching the opera like all’s well in the world.
- “But what will you do with him?”
“With Albert?” Monte Cristo replied, in the same voice. “What will I do with him, Maximilien? Why, as surely as you are here and I am shaking your hand, I shall kill him tomorrow before ten in the morning. That’s what I’ll do with him.” (976) That’s a bit much.
- So Mercedes goes to Monte Cristo to beg for Albert’s life and he agrees not to kill her son, but says that he must die in that case because everyone saw him publicly challenged by Albert. Obv, in the course of this begging, Mercedes admits she knows he’s Dantes. How has this taken this long???
- Monte Cristo dwells on death and the end of this big persona he’s been working on for ten years. He adds some things to his will to make sure Haydeé is taken care of but she reads it over his shoulder as she’s sneaked in to try to talk to him. In all the excitement, she faints and he picks her up and the novel takes time to tell us how he, as well as Haydeé is feeling this weird father/daughter but also lover feeling (ew?).
- “Monte Cristo bent over her and lifted her into his arms. Seeing her pale complexion, her lovely closed eyes, this beautiful body, senseless, as though in abandon… for the first time it occurred to him that she might perhaps love him in some way other than that in which a daughter loves her father.
‘Alas!’ he murmured, with profound despondency. ‘So I might yet have been happy!’ ” (990) – idk man, going so quickly from ‘she’s my daughter and heir’ to ‘she’s hot and she obv wants me, it’s a shame I didn’t sleep with her before I have to go die in this duel’ is fucking weird.
- So they all come to the duel and Albert is fashionably late and dramatic, as he’s wont to be. However, the duel doesn’t happen because someone’s told Albert the truth about why/how Fernand wronged him. I presume it’s Mercedes and now I’m annoyed because I at least wanted a Hamilton fire your pistol in the sky moment in the duel. Sigh, I guess we can’t have everything in life.
- Albert returns home and starts packing up his things and Mercedes is doing the same, as both are planning to cut themselves off and leave their names and fortunes behind. Just in the nick of time, a letter arrives from Monte Cristo, saying he hid money he saved for Mercedes and him long ago so they should go get it. How convenient. (Seriously I think I’ll reuse this gif SO many times before this story’s done.)
- Meanwhile, Fernand is all ‘how could my son return from the duel he must have killed Monte Cristo but why didn’t he come tell me of the victory?’ Fernand goes to the Count’s place to see what happened at the duel and when he finds Monte Cristo alive he says he now must duel him for the dishonour he’s brought on his son’s reputation. Monte Cristo does his great revealing act again, putting on a sailor’s coat and hat and is all ‘recognise me now?’ (does he just keep various outfits around for this very purpose?).
- Obviously, Fernand does recognise the Count as Dantes and he gasps and practically crawls from the house. When he gets home he sees Mercedes and Albert packing up and leaving him so he calmly goes upstairs and shoots himself because that’s the only thing left to do apparently. (That’s two down.)
- Meanwhile, Max goes to see Valentine and her granddad and she is clearly feeling unwell. However, Madame Danglars and Eugenie arrive and socialising waits for no man so she goes to sit with them, they tell her about Eugenie’s engagement to Cavalcanti etc. but she excuses herself, saying she doesn’t feel great. As Valentine is heading back upstairs to her granddad’s suite, she faints and falls and Noirtier and Max call out for help. Villefort rushes off to Doctor d’Avrigny so Max rushes to the Count for aid.
- Even though there are slightly more pressing matters, the Count thinks Max must be here about the hoo-ha at the Morcerf’s household. With all his usual tact, Monte Cristo brings him up to speed:
” ‘The general has just blown his brains out.’
‘Oh, what a terrible thing!’ Maximilien exclaimed.
‘Not for the countess or for Albert… Better a husband and father dead than a husband and father dishonoured. The blood will wash away the shame.’ ” (1022)
- Getting back to the real important reason for his visit, Max tells Monte Cristo about the poisoning at the Villefort household and Monte Cristo is all ‘good riddance they’re terrible people’ but Max vehemently suddenly professes his love for Valentine.
- Naturally, Monte Cristo isn’t too happy with this (to say the least) but he vows to help Valentine if he can, since Max loves her. Next thing we know an abbé named Busoni has bought house next to Villefort’s. Who would have seen this coming?
- Noirtier admits to Doctor d’Avrigny in a quiet moment that he has been giving his granddaughter small doses of poison as she’s been taking his medicine daily, he’s hoping to thereby build up her tolerance to the poison because he thinks someone is going to try to kill her with and he thinks this is the only way to stop it happening. Gasp, so dramatic!
- Whilst one daughter is almost dying, another across town is metaphorically dying, with the threat of that institution they call marriage. Eugenie goes to Danglars and tells him she doesn’t want to marry Cavalcanti and be tethered to a man. He says it’s not about love or securing grandchildren, it’s simply a matter of credit as his will be strengthened by the union, and both of their dowries will help him do this (tho he won’t actually spend the dowry allegedly). Danglars says all she has to do is the expected visits and sign the marriage contract and Eugenie (begrudgingly) agrees she will do it. Hmmm I suspect it will not go down as Danglars would like…
- Cavalcanti comes to ask Monte Cristo to give him away, but the Count says no, though he will be there for the
dramasigning of the marriage contract. Everyone comes to Danglars’ place for the signing, everyone fawns over Monte Cristo (what a surprise), and he even regales everyone with a story about a missing waistcoat being found covered in blood (belonging to the guy who tried to rob him and died, stabbed by his accomplice). Just as the Count is finishing his story, the police show up and are all ‘where’s Cavalcanti?!’ (Slowly backing away and sneaking out of the room, duh). Turns out he’s an escaped convict and he was the one who murdered Caderousse, his old cell mate. I have to hand it to Monte Cristo, he knows a thing about timing.
- Meanwhile, Eugenie retreats to her to with her friend Louise and they chat about already conceived plan to run away. You see, Louise asked Monte Cristo days ago to help her obtain a passport so she could travel as a man to Italy (she claimed she was afraid to travel alone as a woman). Lol girl is smart.
- Obv Eugenie changes into men’s clothes (and it’s implied it’s not the first time she’s done it) and then cuts her hair like it’s nbd and they sneak out and get an arranged carriage and even put people off the scent by loudly saying they’re going one way but then heading another. Tbh, guys, I’d rather hear about these girls’ future Italian adventures than read the rest of the book?
- Andrea sneaks out and ends up at the same hotel on the road as the lesbians – oh wow who could have imagined this would happen???!?? But then, early next morning, he sees gendarmes outside and panics. Naturally, he tries to escape via the roof and then climbs down a chimney into another person’s room- it’s Eugenie and Louise’s room. (Seriously, why is there not a gif of Phoebe from Friends saying “What are the chances? 1 billion Chinese people and they send Mike!?” Basically just imagine that gif anytime I’ve said ‘that’s convenient’ or ‘what are the chances?’.)
- Even though Cavalcanti is being handcuffed, he still has time to be a smarmy dick “Do you have any message for your father, Mademoiselle Eugenie? Because, in all probability, I shall be returning to Paris.” (1068)
- “We have seen how Mlle Danglars and Mlle d’Armilly we’re left in peace to undergo their transformation and make their escape: the reason is that everyone was too preoccupied with his or her own affairs to bother with theirs.” (1069) I have absolutely nothing mocking to say about this quote, I just really liked this line.
- Madame Danglars goes to beg Villefort to do what he can to keep Cavalcanti case quiet so that her family name won’t be shamed by the association and gossip but Villefort, still a bit preoccupied with how his daughter nearly was poisoned to death, says no, Cavalcanti must be prosecuted as law would want. All in all, he’s one very happy crown prosecutor with the collection of crimes he has to preside over: “I had a fraud, I had three thefts, I had three cases of arson, all I lacked was a murder. And here it is: it will be a fine session.” (1078)
- So Valentine is still all ill and locked up protectively to prevent her being poisoned again but she deliriously sees apparitions in her room. Then her bookcase seems to be moving and omg it’s a secret door and who should appear but the Count of Monte Cristo!
- He tells her he’s been acting as her guardian angel for the past four days, watching when people bring her food and drink and testing it for poison and then getting rid of it if it’s poisoned before she can have it. He’s all you’re awake and lucid so now you will see the truth, pretend to be asleep, and you shall learn who comes at midnight to poison you. Now that is a cliff hanger end to a chapter, and to this week’s section…
Aaand that’s all for Week 5 (aka chapters 81-100) folks! So join me same place, same time, next week (the final week!) to discover what goes down in the closing chapters. We’ve come so far, guys, we’re almost there! But until then, remember: always go to the signing of a wedding contract, you never know what drama involving the police and escaped convicts is going to unfold whilst you’re there.