I usually like to write Recommended Reads before too much time has passed since actually reading the book, to ensure it is still quite fresh in my mind, and though this isn’t always possible (I have read quite a lot of books), I must admit it has been a fair few years since I read The Three Musketeers. But this month I have been focusing on the theme of adaptations, and after watching the latest offering based on this novel, this time in the form of a BBC series, it seemed like a good time to review this, one of the most adapted novels of all time. It also reminded me of just how much I really loved the book.
The many, many screen adaptations (25+) over the years I should think have ensured that the story is well embedded in the minds of most people out there. But what makes it so loved, so enduring, so desired by film makers and readers alike?
The novel we see today was originally published as a serial over 5 months in 1844. This explains why it is structured the way it is – Dumas needed to hit a certain word count per instalment, making the chapters now seem a little long, but it also means that each chapter in itself is a mini adventure, with a cliff-hanger at the end to ensure readers would buy the next edition. As a novel, this helps to keep the story moving at an exciting pace. The use of real historical events and people helped boost its popularity on release, and this has in part contributed to its continuing popularity. But, at its heart, The Three Musketeers is an adventure story, and contains several key ingredients that make it a very good one. Ingredients that mean as much to audiences today as they did 170 years ago.
- A young hero out to save King and country
- A team of loyal friends to help
- Classic goodies vs baddies
- An evil villain
- Romance and a seductive femme fatale
- Twists and turns
- Lots of different and exciting settings
It seems that there are certain things that audiences, whether watching or reading, will always be entertained by. My personal opinion is that the book in this case is superior to the films (the book seems to be a bit more serious, somehow, even though it wasn’t necessarily meant to be that way. Perhaps the film versions are just a bit too tongue in cheek for my liking), and although it is long and text heavy in places, I had no trouble in losing myself in the world of 17th Century France that Dumas portrays. I had feared that the language and style of writing would be difficult to get to grips with, but it wasn’t difficult at all, and I actually finished it in record time. A brilliant read that I highly recommend, and since most people know the story already, the book will no doubt serve to add further richness and depth to characters you might already know.