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When My Ship Comes in Wednesday

What I've Finished Reading

Donkey Boy is heartbreakingly specific and as inexplicable as childhood. Not much has changed since we last saw the Maddison family, except that there are two more children now and everyone is a little more bitten and a little more shy. Hetty tries to make Dickie happy, but he doesn't believe he can be happy and he won't let anything go; he blows up horribly at his whole family over some toast that was spoiled by the coal fire; everything that ought to be a funny story feels like an assault on his dignity. Meanwhile, little Phillip, lonely and confused, acts out in ways nobody understands, himself least of all. He sings to himself at night a song of the world that no one can be allowed to hear. What he's becoming, who can say? He might be grown up and married himself before he knows, if he ever does know. It's not like the years did his father any good.

What I'm Reading Now

I never got around to making a separate post for The Count of Monte Cristo, but rest assured it's still the best thing since freedom young love living parents finding a pile of gold in a grotto. Spoilers below through Chapter 30!

[CLICK HERE to find out if the treasure was real or metaphorical]

No tricks, no metaphors, just a big pile of diamonds in a trunk. And no Sierra Madre sadness, either; Dantes fills his pockets with diamonds and boards the ship, no questions asked, no diamonds inconveniently rolling out onto the deck and prompting inconvenient curiosity. This is completely plausible! Sailors don't live cheek by jowl or anything. Why would anyone notice a thing like that? He's also able to sell a bunch of jewels to the first dealer he runs across without tripping any kind of “where'd you get 16 giant diamonds buddy” wire in the local law enforcement and bandit communities. I'm kind of in awe of Dumas' handwaving skills here. In order to roll the plot forward, he needs to sidestep any trouble about the money, so he blithely informs us there's no trouble about the money. NEXT PLOT POINT.

Of course he can't take the whole haul with him; there's too much of it, so we're treated to a description of how carefully he hid the secret entrance to the secret treasure grotto. There's no count in evidence on Monte Cristo, unless DANTES HIMSELF IS THE COUNT. Unless someone else manages to steal his carefully hidden secret GIANT TREASURE HOARD or take over the island by force I don't see what's stopping him from calling himself whatever he wants.

So Dantes is suddenly incredibly wealthy, with a big box of more wealth waiting for him to come back and scoop it up. Triumph soon gives way to SADNESS, though, as Dantes returns to his hometown and is overcome with emotion. It's time for Dantes to learn what we've already been told: his dad is dead. Mercedes has vanished. It's a nice touch that the people now living in his father's apartment are a very young couple, just like he and Mercedes were supposed to be – a ghost of the life that was stolen from him.

Then, Caderousse is back! Dantes goes IN DISGUISE (as his own dead abbe friend) to the house of everyone's my favorite spineless drunk to get the deets on his father, Fernand, Danglars, and Mercedes. He tricks Caderousse into spilling the dirt on everyone by luring him into a fake Dumas plot. Here Dantes learns that Danglars and Fernand betrayed him, that they're both super wealthy and successful, and that Mercedes is married to Fernand . :(

We also learn that M. Morrel, who tried to help Dantes and failed so spectacularly, is now in dire financial straits – he's lost all his ships but one, and that one is missing, and he's on the verge of bankruptcy.

Then there's a stunning interlude, possibly my favorite thing that's happened in the book so far. Dantes buys M. Morrel's last remaining ship, the missing one (in a different disguise) and then visits M. Morrel, presenting himself as his largest creditor and offers to delay his debts so that he can put off declaring bankruptcy – even as he learns that the last ship has been destroyed. The way the debts are eventually forgiven is amazingly baroque – he delivers the receipts to Morrel's daughter Julie via clandestine appointment at the last minute; why not a week before the bill was due? SUSPENSE, of course. “This is the most ridiculous melodrama I have ever seen,” I thought, even as I could hardly breathe because I didn't know if Julie was going to come back in time to prevent Morrel from shooting himself. I was afraid to keep reading! But of course I had to keep reading or I would be in suspense forever, and that's no way to live. SPOILER: SHE'S JUST IN TIME. As if that weren't enough, Dantes has built a replica of the lost ship, brand new, with its name in new paint, and sailed it into harbor full of its lost cargo. A miracle! Anything at all could happen from now on, but I already love Alexandre Dumas forever. How does anyone dare to write something so beautiful and shameless? I haven't felt this way since [a New Who spoiler]Gallifrey came back to life.

Now, apparently, it's time for REVENGE. Dantes informs us of this change of focus in a monologue as he slips quietly out of town. I don't know if I'll like revenge as much as Doing Nice Things for the Morrel Family, but Dumas hasn't failed me so far.

THE BEST. I can't wait to see what Dumas has up his sleeve this week.

What I Plan to Read Next

Young Phillip Maddison: more like Phillip SADdison. Another one I'll probably have to purchase new through Faber Finds, since the university library's Williamson coverage is patchy (and the city library's nonexistent), though I'll check used first. Someone actually bought the copy of The Dark Lantern that I took to the bookstore! So at least one other person is reading these, even if they're unlikely to come back and talk to me about it.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 12th, 2016 09:30 pm (UTC)
Oct. 12th, 2016 11:36 pm (UTC)

And YES, Dantes' plan to save the Morrel's is THE BEST/most ridiculous. Could he just have a messenger deliver the purse a week before Morrel's utter bankruptcy? OF COURSE NOT, he needs to have Julie run out and retrieve it AS HER FATHER SITS IN HIS ROOM TOYING WITH HIS GUN for maximum melodrama. OH DANTES. OH DUMAS. AND THEN THE FAKE PHARAON.

I am so excited/concerned to see what has become of Mercedes' marriage to Fernand. Does she spend a lot of time sitting in windows, gazing dolefully out at the street and sighing for her lost love? Or has she moved on and had half a dozen bitty Fernand's and nearly forgotten her beloved Edmond except that sometimes an unexpected pain catches her just beneath the heart, and she has to pause and catch her breath and force a smile?

Also I'm wondering if Mercedes is included in Dantes' epic revenge schemes. Is he angry at her for being faithless to his memory? Or does he realize that she was pretty much out of options and made the best of a terrible situation?
Oct. 13th, 2016 12:13 am (UTC)
Man, I HOPE Mercedes doesn't get revenged upon. Dantes does have that sarcastic, "eighteen months, who could ask for more?" line, so there's evidence of some bitterness, but MY FAVORITE Caderousse makes sure to note that she doesn't seem happy, despite her seemingly enviable position, so maybe that bodes well for sympathy? Of course, if her husband gets caught beneath a vengeance avalanche, it's hard to imagine her not being harmed to some extent. :( We know she has at least one little Fernand, I think? Chance of forced smiles is high.

What I'm hoping for:

1. good things ONLY for Mercedes >:(

2. more page time for Caderousse (I'd like him to be an unlikely and partial hero, but I'll settle for him showing up now and then)

3. a "happy" ending may be impossible at this point but I'd be really glad if Dumas could use some of that handwavey magic and make it so the quest for vengeance doesn't consume Dantes totally, we'll see I guess

I will never be over the fake Pharaon. I'm going to get a movie adaptation after I finish the book so I can watch it happen all over again, this time with overbearing music! <3
Oct. 13th, 2016 12:36 am (UTC)
I am imagining a DRAMATIC TURNAROUND, where Dantes is planning to revenge himself upon Mercedes, but then he sees how VERY SAD she looks and suddenly is filled with remorse and sympathy for her suffering and has to revise his plans so that his revenge on Fernand won't be too terrible for her.

Although I suspect you are right about the vengeance avalanche almost inevitably burying Mercedes too if Dantes directs it against Fernand. Clearly something for Dantes to angst about!

Would a movie adaptation have time for the fake Pharaon? I'm seeing a director cutting out the brief rewarding-the-good prelude entirely to skip right to the VENGEANCE.
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:03 am (UTC)
Oh, you're probably right about movies cutting out the Pharaon; we do have over a thousand pages still to go! But it's so cinematic!

DRAMATIC TURNAROUND seems like a good bet, but I'm going to be anxious until it happens for real. Dantes, Dantes, I'm worried about you.
Oct. 13th, 2016 08:03 am (UTC)
I am smugly grinning at your Monte Cristo thoughts. :-D

*mimes spoilers*

*goes away*
Oct. 14th, 2016 04:00 am (UTC)
I keep thinking I want a Count of Monte Cristo icon, but I can't search for images because they might be full of spoilers! SOON THOUGH. Thank you again for your restraint, however smug. :D

this book is going to be the death of me in the best possible way. <3
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


blase ev

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