The Count of Monte Cristo has it all. Betrayal! Imprisonment! Romance! Revenge, treasure, smugglers and bandits, glamorous parties and secret affairs. Dumas wraps his writing in luxurious descriptions. Wealth and opulence abound. Characters are wholly fleshed out with conflicted feelings, hidden back stories, and individual motivations. Emotions clash on their faces as their personalities clash with each other. Unlike some of the other behemoths I’ve read, there isn’t a paragraph in here I would take out. Don’t be intimidated by its size, it’s well worth the time you will spend reading it. Alexandre Dumas has created a brilliant epic, as thrilling today as it was when it was published. However, since it’s been centuries since this book was published you may wish to find a version with good notes (this Penguin Classics edition was excellent). If you aren’t well versed in French Revolution era history the notes will be helpful clarifying events and setting them on a timeline, they explain the many quotes Dumas pulls from famous works of literature or theater, and they add depth to the novel by drawing connections which would have been obvious to the readership of the time, but aren’t to us. For example Dumas often references places he stayed at or artists he knew, but unless you’re a historian those references will probably escape you. Notes are a nice touch, but the novel itself is the indispensable part. Find a copy. Read it. You won’t be disappointed.