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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


Books by Debra Hamel:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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Fry, Stephen: Revenge

  Amazon  

3.5 stars

Readers familiar with the plot of Alexandre Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, about the unjust political imprisonment of sailor Edmond Dantes in post-Napoleonic France, will not be surprised by the various turns taken  in author Stephen Fry's modern version of the tale. When the book begins, Ned Maddstone, the seventeen-year-old son of a Tory MP, is bound for Oxford and, almost certainly, for a life marked by as much success as he has already enjoyed: a cricket-playing future Head Boy and member of a sailing club, Ned is polite and good looking and newly in love, and he has the easy grace that comes with aristocracy. He would never dream of offending, but in his unselfconscious perfection Ned manages to do just that, and he consequently falls victim to a plot hatched by three jealous acquaintances.

Though Fry's plot will not surprise, his reworking of the Dumas classic is cleverly done. Loyal Bonapartists have become IRA sympathizers, and treasures are now hoarded in Swiss bank accounts. Most charmingly, in the latter part of the book Ned is released into a gadgetized world that has been altered beyond measure by the computer revolution, reminding us of just how much our own lives have changed since 1980.

Fry's book is a good read, though the animosity Ned unwittingly provokes in his acquaintances seems unrealistically ferocious. (I do not know whether this might be said also of the original.) Readers who do not know what to expect of the book are likely in particular to enjoy it.

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