Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thoughts: The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte

The Club Dumas by Arturo Perez-Reverte seemed like a treat for booklovers, when I first came across it. The book revolves around a rare book hunter named Lucas Corso who comes across an original manuscript of a chapter of The Three Musketeers. Life soon begins to imitate art, when Corso is shadowed by characters who seem like they walked out of a Dumas novel. As an added bonus, the front blurb describes the books as a cross between Umberto Eco and Anne Rice.

When I first started reading the book, I was overwhelmed by a desire to hunt down the person who wrote the front blurb, and to high-five him. In the face. With a chair. To say that the prose was painful would be like saying Bella Swan is only slightly offensive to the majority of the female population. IT WOULD BE THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR. I've never read anything by Umberto Eco, but I think his work deserves more credit than to be compared to the disaster that is the first half of the book. So does Anne Rice.

Oh, The Club Dumas, I had such high hopes for you.

The protagonist, Lucas Corso, is described as a person with a deceitful rabbit-like innocence who is easily trusted by men and always desired by women. Unless you look like Pierce Brosnan with slightly bigger front teeth, I cannot imagine how the words "rabbit-like" and "desired by women" can possibly make sense in another sentence besides this one. I don't think I've ever been this annoyed with a fictional character who is, in fact, not a teenager.

Also, I was ridiculously annoyed by the portrayal of Liana Taillefer, the villainess of the novel. Liana is always described as a remarkable woman, not for her cunning, but for her long blond hair, beautiful face, big breasts, and wide child-bearing hips. It never occurred to the men in the novel that Liana's brains might, in fact, be bigger than her breasts. Seriously, if I were Liana Taillefer, I would probably want to murder Lucas Corso with the broken end of a liquor bottle as well.

The book does have its moments. Like in this passage:
"A person who's only interested in books doesn't need other people, and that frighten me."
And this:
"Maybe nights full of tears, silence, and loneliness followed that screen kiss. Maybe cancer killed him before he was forty. Maybe she lived on and died in an old folks' home at the age of ninety."
The thoughts, of course, aren't original, but the lack of originality doesn't make them any less true.

The book attempts to redeem itself about a quarter or so before the end by making Corso seem more human. But what's the point? I already hated him. If you made him more human in the beginning, I would've been more forgiving if Corso acted like a total jackass in the end. At that point, I just didn't care about the black and white photos taken by the girlfriend who broke his heart. The book attempts to rise from the water, but is ultimately pulled down by its disastrous beginning and completely anti-climactic ending.

By the end of the novel, I was left with a feeling of regret. Why didn't I just buy another Sophie Kinsella novel? That way, I would've guaranteed myself a good time.

P.S: This books is merciless with spoilers. Do not read this book if you haven't read The Three Musketeers. I now know who Milady was married to, and that sucks.


Eclectic Indulgence said...

I warned you. ;).

My favorite part is about the guy who sold all his furniture but kept his books on the floor and every year had to struggle with which ones to sell to pay for his living expenses.

I also agree that the spoilers part was horrible.

Reading Rambo said...

I highly enjoyed this review, madam.

And oh...I was spoiled for the marriage thing by the Disney Three Musketeers movie. Which is fantastic, btw.

Ben said...

Hehehehe...don't put Umberto Eco on a pedestal. THE NAME OF THE ROSE was great, but he did write some utterly pretentious and downright terrible stuff...ahem...Queen Loana...ahem!

I liked the Polanski movie, but you know Polanski can make the worst idea look good when he puts his shoulder into it. I will follow your recommendation and stay away, but here's a little constructive criticism. I would have loved to have passages you thought embodied the spirit of the book, of why you thought it sucked.

Zibilee said...

Oh, this does indeed sound terrible! Rabbit-like? Really? I am so glad that you reviewed this one honestly, as I can now imagine backing away quickly from it when I see it on the bookstore shelf, and your image of a high-five to the face is priceless. Very candid and honest review today. I will be skipping this one, thank you!

Kailana said...

hm, is this part of his series? One of my friends LOVES his series... And good to know on the spoilers. I still haven't finished The Three Musketeers.

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

You got much farther into the book than I did--I gave up only a few chapters in. And though it was so long ago now that I can't exactly recall the particulars, I'm going to go ahead and pretend that I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment!

Trish said...

Gah! I was afraid of that. The cover and the premise all look too good to be true.

mooderino said...

...and to high-five him. In the face. With a chair.

That made me laugh. Maybe you should put down the books for a bit, and pick up a pen. Any ambitions in that direction?


Andi said...

I think I'm glad I gave this book away a few years ago!

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

That does sound bad! Thanks for the heads up ... I will steer clear of this one.

At least with Sophie Kinsella you know what you are getting and you know it will be be enjoyable in its own way.

Megs said...

"Rabbit-like" and "desired by women" makes me think of Guy Pearce. I'm not sure why.

Also, you are hilarious and adorable. Never change.

Kerry M said...

Awesome review! I was always a bit intrigued by this, and like you, had high hopes, but I'm glad someone else dashed said hopes with a chair to the face rather than letting me waste precious reading time on frustrating spoiler-filled stories. Hurrah!

Biblibio said...

"The thoughts, of course, aren't original, but the lack of originality doesn't make them any less true." - Yes. I mean, lack of originality drives me nuts in literature, but still - truth, truth.

Unknown said...

One thing to keep in mind, it was translated from Spanish. We all know how bad some translations can be.


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