The Black Count by Tom Reiss (with linkup)

The Black Count The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte CristoThe Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss by Tom Reiss

This month’s book club pick, and I’m really happy that I selected it – it coordinated so well with The Count of Monte Cristo, and added a lot to my appreciation of Dumas’ classic novel.

While I really enjoyed Reiss’ book, it’s not one that I’d recommend to just anyone. Despite being promoted that way, it’s not a true biography, as the available source material for Dumas’ live simply wasn’t there to support that. Instead Reiss has written a history, focusing on one individual and how his experiences were impacted by the world around him.

Dumas lived in a time and place where there were a *lot* of significant historical events to impact his life, so there is a *lot* of history in the book – looking at slavery in what is now Haiti and other French possessions as well as America and the British Empire, the sugar industry, the French Revolution and Republic, Napoleon, his ill-fated Egyptian excursion…

I’m a huge history fan, so I loved (almost) all of it. I got slightly bogged down in some of the military details, such as Dumas’ victory in the Alps and a significant battle in northern Italy. It made such an impression on me I can’t even remember the city, but those issues say more about my lack of interest in military history than Reiss’ writing skill.

If you’re a fan of The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers, I think you’ll enjoy this book, for the details about what aspects of those novels were inspired by the general’s life. If you’re not generally a fan of nonfiction, or of history or biography (or biographical history), I don’t think this is the book that will persuade you otherwise, and I’d recommend you skip it.


If you’ve written a post about The Black Count, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on The Chosen March 1st. There will be a linkup for posts relating to that book on March 30th.


Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New On Your Stack (vol. 1)

The Count of Monte Cristo (and linkup)

The Count of Monte Cristo The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Ever finish a book and just think “that was an accomplishment?” Because that’s exactly how I felt when I completed The Count of Monte Cristo. It’d been on my “I want to read that someday” list for well over a decade, but never a high enough priority for me to actually get it read.

I think I’m glad that I never looked up the page count – I likely wouldn’t have selected the book for the group, and then I wouldn’t have read it, and I’m so glad I did.

Sure, the book gets bogged down at times (that Roman section!), but overall it reads much faster than I expected from a 1200+ page book. It’s pretty easy to tell that it was serialized, but unlike with The Old Curiousity Shop, the repetative nature of the story that seems to encourage didn’t bother me as much in this book.

Overall it was such a thought-provoking book, with memorable characters and actions. Well worth reading, even if it does require such a time commitment.


If you’ve written a post about The Count of Monte Cristo, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on The Black Count February 1st. There will be a linkup for posts relating to that book on February 23rd.


Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Books Read in 2014 – Charts & Graphs Style

Cover Love: The Count of Monte Cristo

A look at some of the covers The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo has had through the years. Emphasis on only some of them – as popular public domain book that’s been translated into multiple languages, there was no way to feature them all.

(Click on any of the image groups to enlarge it if you want to see more detail.)

The Count of Monte Cristo Covers 1

From left to right: the Robin Buss translation I read and think is the easiest way to read the book in English, the beautiful leather bound version that I think is the prettiest one, a movie tie-in version that confuses me a bit (what is he doing? Would it make sense if I’d seen the movie?), a striking one that wins points from me for being something so different than everything else I was seeing, and a Canadian version that goes really heavy on the symbolism.

The Count of Monte Cristo Covers 2

From left to right: The author, and then lots of depictions of the Count, often looking off into the distance.
The Count of Monte Cristo Covers 3

More of the Count, many of them still where he’s looking off into the distance. Why is he almost always looking off to the right (his left?). In the version on the far left he’s also floating somewhat menacingly in the clouds over the Château d’If.

The Count of Monte Cristo Covers 4

Speaking of the Château d’If, it features prominantly on many covers as well.

The Count of Monte Cristo Covers 5

The far left cover is, based on my shaky French, perhaps one of the earliest ones after it was compiled into a single book. The next is a Tor paperback, which caught my eye because I didn’t realize Tor published “classic” novels – I thought they were all science fiction/fantasy. The middle seems like it’s taking a small item from the book, and using it as the cover inspiration. The fourth had me convinced it was a children’s adaptation (though apparently it’s not, but it is an abridged version). And the final one makes me laugh and feel sad. Do you see why?

The Count of Monte Cristo Covers 6

And these covers make me smile. They’re mostly comic book adaptations of the story, or heavily abridged and illustrated editions. Those illustrations are hilarious and I love them. I think the fourth one might be my favorite – the look on his face is fantastic!

Which one is your favorite? Do you have an alternative cover that you want to share – I think you can post it on the blog’s Facebook page (or if you’re in the book club group on Facebook I know you can share it there). I had to quit looking for more cover options as there are just. so. many.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Link Love

The Count of Monte Cristo Covers

Introducing January’s Book Club Selection: The Count of Monte Cristo

The Count of Monte Cristo Robin Buss TranslationThe Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas

What’s It About

You probably already know – it’s been around for so long, and has been adapted and retold so many times – but just in case: It’s a fictional novel following the life of Edmond Dantes, who is unjustly imprisoned because of a conspiracy by three “friends,” and what happens to him afterwards. Read more about it at Goodreads.

Why Was This Title Selected

It’s a classic, and one my in-person book club had read and enjoyed before I joined it. It’s also a novel that was originally written in something other than English, so yet another way to expand my usual reading choices. Finally, Caroline Starr Rose (an author I really like) has raved that it’s her favorite book.

Anything Else To Know About It?

It’s super long, but surprisingly readable (there is one section that drags quite a bit, but most of the book is more engaging). If you’re getting bogged down a bit in the part in Rome, don’t despair, but keep going!

I *highly* recommend the Robin Buss translation. You can get it in print, or on Kindle, but I couldn’t track down an audio version of that translation, so if you’re determined to listen to the book you’ll have to select something else. I originally started out with a different translation, and then made the switch to the Buss version. SO much more readable and enjoyable.

The 2002 movie version starring James Caviezel is supposed to be really good, and I will ask at least one question related to the movie later in the month, so if you have time to watch it after you’ve read it you may want to do that (you can rent it from Amazon, but it’s not streaming on Amazon Prime or Netflix that I could find). There are other film adaptations (including one with Richard Chamberlain from 1975), but I haven’t heard anything about those.

How’s The Discussion Going to Work?

Over in the Facebook Group, I’ll be posting at least one question each weekday. On January 27th, I’ll have a “review” post here, with my thoughts on the book, and it will include a linkup so if you’ve written a post about it, I’d love for you to add that link to the list.

I’ll mostly be taking questions from the list I shared here, but will also add some book-specific ones from LitLovers.

Week one will be introductory and overview questions (so if you haven’t quite finished the book, you should still be able to join in for some of them, although you run the risk of reading spoilers.) Week two will focus on characters and setting, and week three will be about the writing and plotting. And the last week in January we’ll wrap everything up with some concluding questions and looking beyond the book.

Am I Too Late To Join the Discussion?

Not at all – just request to join the Facebook group and I’ll get you added. The discussion will start today, and spoilers are allowed, so keep that in mind before you join, but you’re welcome to come and discuss as much as you’ve read, whenever you get to it. The discussion will continue all month. It is a long one though, so realistically you may find it challenging to get the book finished before the end of the month.

What’s Coming Up Next Month?

The Black CountTom Reiss’ biography of General Alex Dumas (the father of Alexandre Dumas), The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo. It’s available in print, ebook, or audible. Unlike this month’s pick, there are no translation issues or different versions to worry about, so things should be a bit simpler. It’s another long one though, so you may want to get started on it soon (the paperback copy is 432 pages.)

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: December 2012 Recap

New on the Stack in November 2015

Welcome to New on the Stack, where you can share the latest books you’ve added to your reading pile. I’d love for you to join us and add a link to your own post or instagram picture sharing your books! It’s a fun way to see what others will soon be reading, and get even more ideas of books to add to my “I want to read that!” list.New on the Stack button

After last month‘s RIDICULOUS book haul, I was pretty proud of myself for my restraint in November. Nine books, and five of them are YA. One is just a reference to flip through a bit, and the other is a Bible Study. If it weren’t for that gigantic novel I’d be feeling pretty confident about my ability to get through them all in December. 😉

Nonfiction

The Mother of All BooklistsThe Mother of All Booklists: The 500 Most Recommended Nonfiction Reads for Ages 3 to 103The Mother of All Booklists: The 500 Most Recommended Nonfiction Reads for Ages 3 to 103 by William Patrick Martin by William Patrick Martin
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: I am a sucker for book lists.

Love Comes NearLove Comes Near: An Advent Bible StudyLove Comes Near: An Advent Bible Study by Jenni Keller by Jenni Keller
How did I get it: Bought it.
Why did I get it: I was looking for an Advent study, and the timing of this one was right (as in, the timing of when I heard about it). Plus the author is an acquaintance of mine & we have mutual friends.

Fiction

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas
How did I get it: Bought it from Audible (this version).
Why did I get it: It’s January’s book for my book club – of course I need to get it and get reading! I originally borrowed it from the library but it is so. long. I knew I’d never get through it before it had to go back. I don’t want to count on being able to renew it, so the inexpensive Audible version it is!

WinterWinterWinter (The Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer by Marissa Meyer
How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s the final book in the Lunar Chronicles series!

A Curious BeginningA Curious Beginning: A Veronica Speedwell Mystery by Deanna Raybourn
How did I get it: Borrowed it electronically from the library.
Why did I get it: It sounded interesting.

January Conspiracy 365Conspiracy 365 by Gabrielle Lord
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s an Usborne title and I want to read it so I can recommend it (or not).

ArrivalArrival (Phoenix Files Book 1) by Chris Morphew
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s an Usborne title and I want to read it so I can recommend it (or not).

Enna BurningEnna BurningEnna Burning (Books of Bayern) by Shannon Hale by Shannon Hale
How did I get it: Borrowed it from the library.
Why did I get it: It’s the sequel to Goose Girl, which I enjoyed enough to want to read more.

The Bloomswell DiariesThe Bloomswell Diaries by Louis L Buitendag
How did I get it: Purchased it.
Why did I get it: It was a customer special and I couldn’t resist the price. And it sounded like my sort of book.


“New on the Stack” Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share your posts or instagram pictures about the new-to-you books you added to your reading stack last month. They can be purchases, library books, ebooks, whatever it is you’ll be reading! Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to this post – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

The Deliberate Reader

3. The linkup will be open until the end of the month.

4. Please visit the person’s blog or Instagram who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs from your linked post or Instagram. (Because on social media or in next month’s post, I hope to feature some of the books that catch my attention from this month.)

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: General Winston’s Daughter by Sharon Shinn
Two years ago: Book Review: Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman
Three years ago: Announcing the 2013 Reading Challenge

Announcing January’s Pick for the Online Book Club

In case you missed Saturday’s post, I’ve started a Facebook group for the book club I’ll be running next year. I’m taking a poll as to how you’d prefer to find out about the titles – all at once, around three months in advance, or one month at a time.

Early results look like the majority wants to know all the books at once, so unless there is a late swing in the voting, I’ll be sharing the titles for the year next month (I’m still finalizing them).

What I can share is the selection for January:

The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas

The plan is that on the first Monday of the month (in this case, January 4th), I’ll put up a post about the book. Why I picked it, maybe some background info, etc. I’ll also share a list of discussion questions.

That post will officially kick off the discussion over on the Facebook group.

At the end of the month, I’ll post my review of the book, and have a linkup, so if you want to share your thoughts about the book there you’re welcome to link a post, or add a comment.

If it sounds interesting to you, join us in the Facebook group. It’s pretty quiet over there right now, but we’ll really get going with the discussion in January.

Until then, I need to get reading – this book is a long one! I’ve started listening to it and will likely flip between the audio and kindle versions. I went through all of the narrators and liked this version the best. However, if you’re not an audible member with a credit to use, you can get this version for only $1.95 if you first buy the $.99 kindle copy. That’s a great price, and the narrator isn’t bad.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Favorite Bibles

The Three Musketeers

The Three MusketeersThe Three MusketeersThe Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas by Alexandre Dumas

My book club’s pick for February, and I admit to racing through the final 200 pages in order to get it finished by the meeting. Yes, I said final 200 pages, because the book itself was over 600 pages long. That was one of my main issues with the book – it felt like it could have easily been trimmed by 200 pages and still had a solid story with plenty of details. The pacing seemed odd at times – lots and lots of details at times, and then other events that seemed like they could have benefited from more attention took place in only a page or two.

It seems like I shouldn’t admit this, but I liked the parts that focused on Milady – she was so over-the-top evil! I had fun imagining Dumas trying to keep coming up with something else awful for her to do. I was less thrilled with some of the sections where the Musketeers were taking advantage of anyone and everyone they could for funding. And they’re so belligerent!

Despite those minor complaints, I’m glad I read the book (another classic crossed off my list), and would like to try another by Dumas, especially The Count of Monte CristoThe Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

Publisher’s Description:
This swashbuckling epic of chivalry, honor, and derring-do, set in France during the 1620s, is richly populated with romantic heroes, unattainable heroines, kings, queens, cavaliers, and criminals in a whirl of adventure, espionage, conspiracy, murder, vengeance, love, scandal, and suspense. Dumas transforms minor historical figures into larger- than-life characters: the Comte d’Artagnan, an impetuous young man in pursuit of glory; the beguilingly evil seductress “Milady”; the powerful and devious Cardinal Richelieu; the weak King Louis XIII and his unhappy queen—and, of course, the three musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto “all for one, one for all” has come to epitomize devoted friendship. With a plot that delivers stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and, of course, great bouts of swordplay, The Three Musketeers is eternally entertaining.

Book Details

Title: The Three MusketeersThe Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Author: Alexandre Dumas
Category: Fiction
My Rating: 3.5 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!