Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Club Dumas, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

The Club Dumas, by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

Dumas is one of my favorite classic authors; when I saw this novel about an investigator trying to authenticate some handwritten pages from the original manuscript of The Three Musketeers I couldn’t resist. And I was very glad I didn’t—this was a fantastic read! During the course of the book the investigator found himself not only chasing Dumas, but also a hidden book of the occult; in addition to being chased, our hero also found himself pursued by a man that strongly resembles Rochefort, a villain from The Three Musketeers. It isn’t often that I find an historical fiction novel I can’t put down!

The twisty plot was both exciting and intelligent. I love books that don’t talk down to the reader, and this one doesn’t stop to explain much. My favorite example of this was a mysterious ingenue who gave her name as Irene Adler; a throwaway comment that she was the woman that out thought Sherlock Holmes is the only explanation given. Many chapters later, her home address is recorded as 223B Baker Street which causes the protagonist to guffaw. Why he laughs isn’t explained, but bibliophiles will recognize this address as being next door to Homes himself. Another section finds us in a discussion of seventeenth century writers, where the author’s preferences are made very clear. “Verne’s cold, soulless heroes had no place in a discussion of passionate tales of cloak and dagger.” Clearly, Dumas was chosen not only as a plot device, but because he is a favorite of Pérez-Reverte.

One of the most interesting statements was that d’Artagnan is the only French character familiar to the world at large even without most people having reading the book. I’m not sure I agree with this sentiment, as both the Phantom of the Opera and Jean Valjean have made appearances on Broadway and Quasimodo was immortalized by Disney. Plus, an informal survey shows that while the Musketeers are very well known, the names of the famous troupe (or the fact that there are actually four of them) are not. Regardless, this kind of highbrow discussion I found thought-provoking. This is an excellent novel that I recommend to anyone that truly loves books.

First Sentence:
My name is Boris Balkan and I once translated The Charterhouse of Parma.


crazyBobcat said...

This sounds utterly fantastic. I'll be buying it immediately.

crazyBobcat said...

I just noticed that this is by the same author of The Fencing Master. That was a brilliant piece of work. I'll hazard that you, too, would like that book.

Klobetime said...

Excellent - I just added The Fencing Master to my wish list!

Michael said...

I've read a lot of this other books. They're pretty much always the same plot, but good. The one that's a deep-sea treasure hunt is pretty hard to get through.

Was The Club Dumas the one they made a Johnny Depp movie out of, or was that another one?

Klobetime said...

I hadn't heard of a movie, but a little digging shows you are correct! The Ninth Gate was based on this novel, filmed in 1999 and starring Johnny Depp and directed by Roman Polanski.

Search This Blog