(14 october 2006)

i love france, marie antoinette, and swashbuckling. thus, i’m rather ashamed to admit it took me twenty-five years to discover a french novel about swashbucklers rescuing marie.

for weeks i’ve wanted to articulate the terrible beauty that is alexandre dumas’ the knight of maison-rouge, but there are no words. so i loaned it to a friend in the hope that she would be able to express it. but the words failed her as well and we were reduced to swapping emails of *sigh* and oh! the lovely.

KMR is the literary equivalent of tilapia. try it. it will blow you away. but beware, its charms are subtle. this is not the greatest novel in the world. there’s some plodding. some really, alexandre, where are we going here? moments. and since it involves the french revolution and miss marie, there’s a nagging sense that the majority of the characters are going to lose their heads. but the final pages. The Final Pages.

the first time a book made me cry was the third grade. sweet valley high #40, ON THE EDGE. regina (the deaf one, no less) got mad at her jock boyfriend, went to a crazy party, took a line of cocaine and died. at sweet valley high, we had battled steroid addiction with regina’s jock boyfriend and covered reckless partying with jessica wakefield, but no one had died. the moral “deaf girls gone wild wind up dead” did not escape me. it was shocking. nightmarish. i wept for three days.

i can’t remember the last time a novel has affected me quite so much as #40. where i put it down and was left in a funk by fictional characters. biography bowls me over almost without fail, and KMR is historical fiction so perhaps the history lent it some added emotional thrust. but whatever it was, KMR is the new #40.

regina died in a coked-out haze of juvenile prose that had me sobbing about the unfairness of mortality. KMR left me wide awake, repeatedly turning on the light, wiping away the tears, and taking in the terrible beauty again. reading them again. The Final Pages. words- i have none.

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