During August I spent two wonderful weeks on holiday in France. The first week in the mountain towns of the Midi-Pyrénées and the second week on the edge of Lac d’Annecy in Haute-Savoie. I thought it seemed the perfect time to pick up the French classic The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas especially with the historical architecture of old Annecy town. I could already imagine our musketeer heroes walking through the streets.
The Three Musketeers follows the adventures of a young, poor and hot headed Gascon gentlemen of the name of D’Artagnan who is journeying to Paris hoping to impress and obtain a commission in the King’s Musketeers. Within a day of arriving in Paris though he finds himself insulting and obtaining duels with Aramis, Porthos and Athos; three of most well respected members of the King’s Musketeers. These men are to become firm friends instead of enemies though. Together they are to assist the Queen, fall in love, rescue young ladies, thwart the Cardinal’s plans, frequently fight with the Cardinal’s Guards, and chase the infamous assassin and spy Milady De Winter. All the while D’Artagnan has his eyes on joining his friends in the King’s Musketeers. The Three Musketeers is a sweeping romantic adventure following D’Artagnan and his friends during the reign of Louis XIII which takes us from the streets and palaces of Paris to the fields of battle, to on the road across France, on the choppy English channel and even to London, England. I really didn’t want to put this down and I think it was the perfect read for my holiday too.
D’Artagnan the main protagonist of The Three Musketeers is young, handsome and hot headed which gets him into many scrapes but he is also clever, brave, loyal and overall a rather endearing character. I don’t think D’Artagnan always does the right thing but I think generally his heart is in the right place and he does learn a lot during his adventures. Unlike D’Artagnan who is open and often as easy to read as a book his friends Aramis, Porthos and Athos are more of a mystery. Aramis, Porthos and Athos are all assumed names to hide the gentlemen’s real names which I didn’t realise before; but does explain why they have such unusual names. Aramis is a religious man who regularly threatens to join the church if were not for a mysterious love, then we have flamboyant Porthos with his wealthy mistress, and then finally Athos a dark and brooding character. While I really like D’Artagnan I always find myself with a soft spot for Athos in adaptations I have watched and it was no different in the novel. Together though they all make an interesting and enjoyable group to read about.
The Three Musketeers is the first novel I have read by Alexandre Dumas but I am no stranger to the story having watched many film adaptations and the recent television series. I have a particularly fondness for the 1973 film starring Oliver Reed but the recent television series The Musketeers (2014) was very good too. These adaptations had left me with high expectations fortunately the novel easily lived up to them. I thought The Three Musketeers was well written with plenty of interesting characters and places. Dumas’s style is detailed and wordy rather like Dickens unlike Dickens though Dumas’s wordiness is in the character’s conversation more than in the descriptions of the story. Most readers would not be used to such wordy speeches or conversations except perhaps in Shakespeare but I really enjoyed it as it suited the characters and situation. All in all I thought the style of the novel meant the reader was swept away with the characters on their exciting and romantic adventures.
The Three Musketeers is a sweeping historic and romantic adventure in France which I could hardly put down. I highly recommend to those interested in reading the classics and French literature. This is my 25th read off my Classics Club list meaning I am now half way through my challenge to read 50 classics. Great read.
Have you read this? Or watched any of the adaptations?