The Full Monte Readalong | Week Six

Bonsoir mes amis et bienvenue sur le blog pour la sixième et dernière semaine du ‘Le Comte de Monte Cristo’.

For those unaware of the reason for my (frankly shoddy) French, I took part in Laura from Reading In Bed‘s 2018 summer readalong for Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo. To catch up with previous weeks, check out my sign-up post, my week one update, my week two updatemy week three updatemy week four update, and my week five update which will bring you up to speed with summaries of the first hundred chapters of the book. You can also see how I did (or didn’t do) by checking out my reading progress spreadsheet and the Twitter thread, or check out the hashtag #TheFullMonte.

Now, I’m saying all this above but, guys, we’ve come to the end: this will be my final weekly update for The Full Monte readalong. And, yes, “this” “week’s” post is very belated. We’re also playing it loose with the term “week”; needless to say it took me longer than a week to actually finish the final section of The Count of Monte Cristo, mainly for really mundane and boring reasons. But you know what (mostly) wasn’t mundane and boring? The final section of this book, so let’s just dive right into the (final) summary…

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The Full Monte Readalong | Week Five

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 updatemy 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)

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The Full Monte Readalong | Week Four

Bonsoir mes amis et bienvenue sur le blog pour la quatrième 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 and my week two update, which will bring you up to speed with summaries of the first sixty 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.

This week has proved (yet again) that I shouldn’t leave the majority of my reading until the weekend because I will hate Past Emma for her poor life choices. With two weeks left of the readathon, we shall seen if I learn from experience or continue to bumble on just about keeping up with the reading schedule. Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what happened in Chapters 61-80 in my usual overly long and slapdash (but not at all comprehensive) manner…

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The Full Monte Readalong | Week Three

Bonsoir mes amis et bienvenue sur le blog pour la troisième 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. We’ve reached Week Three in which I had a rather big crisis of faith as to why I was reading this book but I think I came out mostly unscathed, it’s just this post’s comprehensiveness which may be compromised in the struggle.

To catch up, check out my sign-up post, my week one update and my week two update, which will bring you up to speed with summaries of the first forty 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.

At the end of Week Two, we left the Count of Monte Cristo having breakfast with his new found pals in Paris and (spoiler alert) Week Three sees more society schmoozing and maybe a vendetta or two and ends with another rather civilised invitation to dinner (it’s all about the food with these people). But let’s take a closer look at what happened in Chapters 41-60 in my usual overly long and slapdash (but not at all comprehensive) manner…

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The Full Monte Readalong | Week Two

Bonsoir mes amis et bienvenue sur le blog pour la deuxième semaine du ‘Le Comte de Monte Cristo’.

Ok, that officially exhausts all my French language knowledge. 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. We’ve reached Week Two which meant joining the Count in chapters 21 through to 40, and boy what a ride it was – we had sailors, bandits, hash (not kidding), carnivals, public execution, and some important conversations too.

To catch up, check out my sign-up post and my week one update which contained a “summary” of the first twenty 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.

At the end of Week One, we left Dantès in a rather precarious situation as he was sinking in the sea with a cannonball strapped to him. Suffice it to say, he survived, and the last section has been something of a transformation, along with a spot of cultural appropriation for good measure because why not. Would it really be a 19th century novel if it didn’t? But let’s take a peek at what happened in my usual overly long and slapdash (but not at all comprehensive) manner…

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The Full Monte Readalong | Week One

If you’ve been around these parts for some time, you may remember my participation in the War and Peace Newbies Readalong last year. I didn’t actually finish the book (I still haven’t, ok?) but I enjoyed the hell out of myself reading War and Peace and doing weekly summary posts of what had went down in Russia in the chapters I’d read that week. This summer brings Laura from Reading In Bed‘s 2018 readalong pick which is Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo – you may have seen my sign-up post last week – which is the book I am officially reading over the next six weeks.

I have a fancy reading progress spreadsheet with which you can track my progress down to the very page, and I’m also updating periodically on Goodreads and via Twitter, using the hashtag #TheFullMonte. However, I will also be continuing the tradition and doing weekly summary posts in which I recap how what has happened in the book in the past week’s chapters and how I feel about the story so far.

Week One brought with it the first 20 chapters of The Count of Monte Cristo, starting with the oh so excitingly titled ‘Marseille – Arrival’ and ending with ‘The Graveyard of Château d’If’ which, I think we can all agree, is something of a morbid downer. Let’s take a peek at what happened in my usual overly long and slapdash (but not at all comprehensive) manner…

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The Full Monte Readalong | Allons-y!

Bonjour, mes amis. ‘What is all this poor French in aid of?’ I hear you ask. Well, mes amis, it’s that time of year again when Laura from Reading In Bed hosts her annual summer readalong. Each year, she picks a daunting classic to tackle over the summer months. Last year, I participated for the first time when we all headed to Russia and hung out with those craaazy Bolkonskys and Rostovs in Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Unfortunately, I went on holiday during the end of the readalong and completely fell off the wagon and never finished War and Peace but shhhhh don’t tell anyone, let’s move on and foolhardily take on another long classic instead, shall we? Très bien!

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This year, the classic chosen is… The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, and the readalong is amusingly titled The Full Monte, because it really IS the Fully Monty, none of these abridged versions in sight, just the real deal. It also means we all have an excuse to post multiple Full Monty gifs now. Très bien!

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Eight

Welcome one, welcome all, to week 8 of my weekly progress reports for War and Peace. If you’re curious about how last week went, then you can pop on over and see my week 7 progress. It’s becoming something’s an amusing fact to me that I seem to constantly be falling behind with this read along for one reason or another, which is why this post is coming to you a few day’s late. And I’m off on holiday to the US this coming Saturday so that’s yet another chance to fall behind but do not worry, loyal readers, I will cart Tolstoy’s masterpiece on a trans-Atlantic flight because I refuse to be beaten entirely now we’ve come so far and are so close. Will this work out well for me? Tune in next week to find out! (Ooo the suspense!)

For those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed. Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly?

In my last post I summarised the many trials and tribulations of Volume III Part II and officially broke the 1000 page mark. I truly have reached the point of no return now. So here’s how week eight aka Volume III Part III looked…

  • This section opens with a tangent… obviously, but at least it’s vaguely relevant unlike someone’s I know (looking at you, Hugo). Tolstoy treats us all to some philosophising about history and how you can never have a beginning to an event because it flows from the previous happenings within a grand inexplicable narrative of existence. I quite like these interludes – they serve to remind me I’m, in fact, not reading a Russian soap opera in book form, but instead one of those ~important books~
    • “The first thing history does is to take an arbitrarily series of continuous events and examine it separately, whereas in fact no event can ever have a beginning, because an individual event flows without any break in continuity from another. The second thing history does is treat the actions of a single person, king or commander, as the sum total of everybody else’s individual will, whereas in fact the sum of individual wills never expresses itself in the actions of a single historical personage.” (p. 912)
  • The upshot of the little philosophy break is to illustrate how silly it is to try to assume military history is a simple cause and effect or that battles are won (or lost) by their commanders who assume hero like status in the annals of history. To illustrate the sheer idiocy of military history, we have the various factions of the Russian forces deciding on tactics, and it’s a predictable shit show. Tolstoy reminds readers that what may seem like a genius bit of tactics or a stupid plan actually was probably a result of circumstance more than anything else:
    • “The circumstances encountered by a commander-in-chief in the field bear no resemblance to any circumstances we may dream up as we sit at home in a cosy study, going over the campaign on a map with a given number of soldiers on either side, in a known locality, and starting out at a specific moment in time.” (p. 916)
    • Tl;dr: it’s easy to criticise but you try running a battle, ok?!

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Seven

Welcome one, welcome all, to the seventh of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. If you’re curious about how last week went (terribly), then you can pop on over and see part one or part two of week 6’s progress. I’ve fallen behind with the schedule, to the point that earlier today I read something close to 100 pages just so I could claw back and post last week’s weekly wrap-up vaguely on-time. I know, I know, I make such sacrifices for this readalong.

For those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed. Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly?

In my last posts, I summarised the action from Volume II Part V and Volume III Part I but this past week I moved onto Volume III Part II and officially broke the 900 page mark. There’s no turning back now, we’ve reached the point of no return (hopefully)…

  • We open this section with Napoleon, obviously, because Tolstoy hates me at this point and just wants to make me suffer.

  • The note I wrote on this scene was ‘men are idiots’… I mean… ok I think I might have been a tad grumpy when reading this section but it’s not wholly inaccurate because:
    • “Napoleon went to war with Russia because he could not resist going to Dresden, could not resist the adulation, could not resist the idea of donning the Polish uniform, and could not contain his petulant outbursts in the presence of Kurakin and later on Balashev. Alexander refused all negotiations because he felt personally insulted. […] Rostov attacked the French because he could not resist the temptation to gallop across a flat field.” (p. 756) Of course he couldn’t resist, stupid Nikolay.

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War and Peace Newbies Read-Along | Week Six, Part Two

Welcome one, welcome all, to the sixth (and a half) of my weekly progress reports  for War and Peace. You may have seen my previous post which was meant to summarise week 6’s progress, but in fact was a post of two halves because I’d fell behind with the weekly schedule. This post is officially part 2 for week 6 and it’s a little late (to say the least), but I’m here now so let’s all just appreciate that – ‘better late than never’ and all that jazz.

For those who have no idea what I’m going on about at all, you may want to head on over to the blog of the War and Peace Newbies Read-along host Laura from Reading In Bed. Every week I’m doing a short progress post or wrap-up of my thoughts so far on the book, all very low key, probably in the form of bullet points, and likely not always coherent. So don’t expect eloquence or a comprehensive guide to the novel is what I’m trying to say – at best, my approach is scatter-gun and what catches my eye probably isn’t the most important detail in the text. Expectations lowered accordingly?

So, in my last post, I summarised the action (and boy was there action) from Volume II Part V- so much drama! This was how I felt about Volume III Part I which, for the most part, felt longer and more introspective for some reason, so I had less observations overall but here they are…

  • This section opens with a resituation of events in terms of the overall historical timeline – we’re in 1811/1812 and I can feel another history dump and I’m not happy about it…
  • All that being said, Tolstoy has some great ruminations of the ’cause and effect’ pattern that we like to apply to war, you know, for understanding and sanity’s sake. He discusses whether we are all just pawns, essentially, of the inevitable playing out of the world – it’s a common theme, especially explored in literature and theatre, of having the world as a stage and all the men and women (merely) players. (Cheers, Shakespeare.) But Tolstoy does something extra interesting with it in casting people as the slaves of history:
    • “Although on a conscious level a man lives for himself, he is actually being used as an unconscious instrument for the attainment of humanity’s historical aims. A deed once done becomes irrevocable, and any action comes together over time with millions of actions performed by other people to create historical significance. The higher a man stands on the social scale, the more contact he has with other men and the greater his impact on them, the more obvious are the inevitability and the element of predestination involved in everything he does. ‘The hearts of kings are in the hands of God.’ Kings are the slaves of history. History – the amorphous, unconscious life within the swarm of humanity – exploits every minute in the lives of kings as an instrument for the attainment of its own ends.” (p. 670)
  • We quickly go from a quote that intrigued me, to one that just made me roll my eyes and laugh. Napoleon is out and about and men keep throwing themselves at him to show their devotion to him and his cause. It must be tiring, truly, poor Napoleon, he’s the Gretchen Wieners of War and Peace. 
    • “This was nothing new for him; he needed no reminding that his presence anywhere on earth, from Africa to the steppe-land of Muscovy, always had the same devastating effect on men, sometimes driving them to acts of madness and self-sacrifice.” (p. 674)

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