Thursday, January 24, 2013

Currently Reading: 'The Sultan of Monte Cristo'

This is a short e-book I found by searching the Count of Monte Cristo tag on Tumblr. You can read the review by The Fashion Insider here (the link died, unfortunately). It is exactly what I wished for: a continuation of Alexandre Dumas' classic, beginning with Edmond Dantes and Haydee as a newly-engaged couple. Under 75 pages, the e-book costs only 99 U.S. cents.

But I am highly unsatisfied by this "honeymoon" scene. (It doesn't actually say that they got married, just that she asked him to ask her to marry him.)

She also realized that it would be hard to break through the Antarctic shyness that had frozen Sinbad's ability to ravish the woman he only knew how to protect; so she would have to use more than her charm, beauty and new found prowess, she would have to make him unable to resist. 

But how did Haydee, the sheltered young maiden, develop this "prowess?" On whom has she been practicing? (Valentine, perhaps?) How did she get it in her head that she would drug him with spiked tiramisu and a hookah full of marijuana? I get that the Count would approach the virgin Haydee with some delicacy, and that she would approach him with some anticipation, but this totally seems like a role reversal.

For the first time Edmond notices that Haydee is voluptuous as she takes his virgin hands and places them on her bare breasts. "Do you know the French kiss?"

"Teach me," requests Dantes. 

Haydee leaned her mouth onto his and taught him how the French kiss.

Let's forget for a moment that we've switched from the past to the present tense and then back again. His virgin hands? Is Edmond Dantes a 40-year-old virgin? I think not; I think in The Count of Monte Cristo (the chapter titled "The Betrothal Feast") when Caderousse says, "Act towards her as if you were her husband, and you will see how she will like it," and Mercedes blushes, Dumas is delicately trying to tell us that Edmond and Mercedes have kinda already been acting like they were married. (This is far more explicit in the movie, of course, wherein Mercedes is already pregnant with Albert when she marries Fernand, and Edmond is Albert's bio dad.)

One would really imagine that Edmond and Mercedes had figured out the French kiss as teenagers.

The chapter ends with:

"No, my lover, that is only a small appetizer, the nectar is reserved for later, first enjoy the main course," as Haydee began to undulate her hips over Dantes' submissive body in gentle rhythm to the ebb and flow of the Mediterranean.

The night ended in a wonderful catharsis for the newly-weds.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh*. Awkward, and not nearly detailed enough even its awkwardness. Is the implication that they're both virgins, and the first time they had sex - him heavily under the influence of narcotics - they both had orgasms? Unlikely (at least for her). And awkward. And badly punctuated. (I added the possessive apostrophe to "Dantes," because bad punctuation hurts my brain.) Now I see why reviewers are comparing this to Fifty Shades of Grey - it's not intended to be a flattering comparison.

And also, they're not "newly-weds." He did not put a ring on it. I imagine he's a nominal Roman Catholic and she's Greek Orthodox, but they probably would've had a Catholic wedding service, on the presumption that the husband's religious preference takes precedence over the wife's. I want to read about that part.

I totally want that romance-novel cliche of the virgin in white on her wedding night - I just want it to be well-written. Or, so help me Jebus, I will write this thing myself. But I will read the rest of this book (apparently the first sequel in a 12-part time-travelling series leading up to the present day) and I will tell you how it goes.

*That's a completely legitimate book reviewer word.

P.S. Apparently by reading the abridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo, I missed a lesbian subplot, wherein one of the daughters of the villains dresses like a man and runs off to Italy with her piano instructor (another woman). I have got to read the unabridged version!

1 comment:

Erin O'Riordan said...

To be perfectly fair to this novel, I should say that apparently, there is now a revised version out with the errors corrected. I'll have to re-read it one of these days and see what I think, since I've subsequently enjoyed other books in this series.