Whew, I finally finished reading this much acclaimed French classic. While satisfied that I can now count myself among its readers, I do have mixed feelings about this epic story of one man embarking on a revenge trajectory after being dealt a harsh blow of egregious frame-up which entails fourteen years of imprisonment and the loss of his betrothed.
The novel is one large web of intricate and inter-linking plots, apparently woven with much care and passion and sprinkled with suspenseful and emotional moments. My investment in the convoluted plots did not wane throughout the novel, although some major twists lean a bit towards fantasy and some of the minor turns appear unnecessary. Still, I loved the author’s beautiful descriptions of scenery in various parts of France, and his occasional insights on human nature spelled out in the narrator’s witty observations. I especially like the moral message that a person who exacts retribution and hurts the innocent in the process will end up with more pain than satisfaction.
As much as the portrayal of the key characters enabled me to have a good grasp of the motives and reasons behind their actions and reactions, I found that they still neatly fall into either one of two distinct categories - good and bad – with very little nuance. The good stay good, the bad stay bad, throughout. But I guess that's one way of looking at human nature.
All in all, this was an enjoyable read and I am giving it 3.4 stars, rounded down.