Years ago, I picked up a copy of The Count of Monte Cristo somewhere, read it, and fell in love with the story. The plot is so detailed and intricate, the characters so well crafted, the relationships so well developed. The book became a favorite and one that I read from time to time on a regular basis.
Once, when browsing through books at a bookstore, I found another copy of The Count of Monte Cristo. Well, of course, one can never have too many copies of a favorite book; so I bought this newer copy.
Later, upon reading the new copy, I realized that there were parts missing in this book. Some of my favorite characters didn't even make an appearance in this one.
I took the old book off the shelf, began comparing the two volumes, and found that they were both abridged copies, with the editing having been done by different individuals. Well, now my curiosity was piqued. I had to know what was in the original that wasn't in either of the two copies now on my bookshelf.
There is a remarkable used-book store in our area. I had discovered it a few years earlier, on the recommendation of a friend. It's in an older section of town, in an old building, its entrance just next to the sidewalk.
Upon entering the store for the first time, I was a bit in awe of the sight that greeted me. This was a BOOK store. There was no café or coffee shop or overstuffed sofas in a quiet reading area. There were just books, thousands of them. The shelves were from floor to ceiling, with just enough space for a person to walk between them. And that was just on the main floor; there were more books in the basement.
There was a tiny space set aside in a front corner of the store, where a cash register resided. There was no computer in sight.
A young man approached me on that first visit to the store, asking if he could be of assistance. I'm ashamed to say that I took in his outward appearance, which included long hair and tattoos, and concluded that he had probably never even read a book. But I made a couple of inquiries, which he answered promptly and with a knowledge of the store's inventory that impressed me mightily.
So, when I decided that I needed an unabridged copy of The Count of Monte Cristo, I headed for that wonderful old used-book store. I was advised that they didn't have a copy in stock but that they would take my name and contact information and would get in touch if one came in. They wrote my name and my request on a little piece of paper (remember, no computer), and I left the store, never expecting to hear from them.
About a year later, the call came. They had just gotten in an unabridged copy of The Count of Monte Cristo and wondered if I still wanted it. I was amazed to hear from them and asked the price. "Eight-fifty" was the reply. Afraid that it might be a collector's edition priced at eight hundred fifty dollars, I said, "Is that eight dollars and fifty cents?" It was.
When I picked up the book a day or two later, I was surprised at the thickness of the volume and its relatively good condition. I commented about the good condition, and the bookstore owner wryly responded that it had probably never been read all the way through. I assured him that it would be now.
|Unabridged version on left. The smaller book on the right is the one that originally got me hooked on the story.|
|This is the final page of the unabridged version, showing the number of pages in the book.|
So, as soon as I finish my rereading of Evangeline, I'm going to have to renew my acquaintance with my old friend, The Count of Monte Cristo.