Our hero d’Artagnan is in the service of king Louis XIV as captain of The Musketeers. What he doesn’t know is that his friends Aramis and Porthos are plotting to remove the king. On the countryside, Raoul is still heartbroken over his love for Louise de la Vallière, the king’s mistress. His father Athos tries to console him. And in the Bastille, a young prisoner Philippe who bears a likeness to Louis, has no idea of the crime he has committed. These events will bring the former musketeers to opposing sides of a conflict at the heart of the Sun King’s court.
The man in the iron mask is the last part in the d’Artagnan romances. As I haven’t read the other books, apart from the first ‘The three musketeers’, I needed some time to understand what has happened before. Some day, I hope to read all these books again in order. Quite a task, I know.
The book opens with a strong prologue where Aramis visits a prisoner in the Bastille. We quickly discover our former musketeer, who is now bishop of Varenne, has contrived a plot against the king. Slowly, the other musketeers appear in the story and I did find the first few chapters very compelling and funny. There are a few scenes at a tailor’s shop that made me laugh out loud.
But when Aramis’ plot falls apart in the middle of the novel, the story does the same. Our attention moves to minister Fouquet and his fall out of grace with the king. There’s also the subplot of Raoul and Athos that I found a bit messy, but that might be because I haven’t read the previous books. Towards the end, the story grows stronger again and I did enjoy the last few chapters. I believe this is a great end to the series and to the lives of these characters that I love so much.
Maybe this book lacks a Milady De Winter or some other villain against which the musketeers can stand together. Now they are at opposing sides while still honoring their friendship. But nonetheless this is again a great piece of storytelling from Dumas and also a fine look into a fascinating part of French history.
This is book 2/50 for the Classics club.
What’s your favourite Alexandre Dumas novel?
When Mrs Helen Graham and her five-year-old son Arthur move into the abandoned Wildfell Hall, she becomes the talk of the town. Her strange ways and ideas mark her from the other nobel families. Gilbert Markham is the only one to befriend the young woman who paints to earn a living. But rumours grow that Helen has left her husband, the father of her son. Wildfell Hall is a quiet sanctuary no longer when her secrets are to be exposed.
Anne is the last of the Brontë sisters of whom I hadn’t read a novel yet. Having both loved ‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’, I was looking forward to discover her writing. So ‘The tenant’ became my first book for the classics club.
The tenant of Wildfell Hall is a Victorian epistolary. The novel is told from two perspectives. The first part is a long letter from Gilbert Markham to his brother-in-law (who doesn’t appear in the novel, apart from just being the unknown receiver of the letter). He writes about the arrival of Mrs Graham and her son at Wildfell Hall and the reception by the other families. There is some irony about the elite in this book reminiscent of Jane Austen. But in my opinion Anne is more subtle and funnier (I especially loved Fergus, who’s sadly only a minor character).
I loved Gilbert’s perspective. You get to read the opinions of women on another woman from the point of view of a man who adores her. Gilbert is a bit naive, insecure and stubborn at times. But still he makes for a good main character.
Halfway, Gilbert receives Mrs Graham’ diary and we are introduced to her story. Here, the writing style changes and I needed some time to get used to it. Helen’s story covers some very serious themes that must have been taboo subjects in the 19th century. Alcohol addiction, mental abuse, adultery… The men in Helen’s story are vile creatures.
Anne has written a quite modern story, that maybe isn’t as upsetting anymore than it used to be. But it tells the story of a woman fleeing her unhealthy marriage for a safe haven. This story doesn’t need ghosts or a haunted house. The writing is extremely readable, it didn’t feel as if I was reading a 19th-century-book.
This doesn’t make it any easier to choose my favorite Brontë sister 😅
This is book 1/50 for the Classics club.
What’s your favorite Brontë classic and why?
And it scares the hell out of me. A few years ago, I already started my own classics project. And I did read some great classics: the novels of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, The three musketeers… I enjoyed them all, but the last years I’m just picking up other books above classics. Mainly because I think they will be too difficult to read and thus take too long to finish. But I kept enjoying TV adaptions of classics such as War and peace and Les miserables. So now, I want to start reading classics again.
That’s why I joined the classics club where the goal is to make a list of 50 classics and read them in the coming 5 years! You review them on your blog and track your progress on a separate page. I don’t have high hopes in really finishing 50 classics in 5 years. I will try, but as I only read around 35-40 books every year, it’s a great commitment. But I’m not afraid of a challenge. I know that by joining I will have read a lot more books from this list by 31st December 2025 than without this challenge.
My list consists of authors I already enjoyed or think I will enjoy (the Brontë sisters, Dumas, Du Maurier…), of stories I already know because of the TV version (Vanity Fair, Les miserables, War and peace…) and of some older historical fictions works (Richard III, The fifth queen, I Claudius…).
When you take a look at my list, you should keep this in mind:
- No Jane Austen on this list as I already read her books.
- No Ernest Hemingway, as I hated ‘the old man and the sea’.
- Not too much of dystopian fiction as it really isn’t my thing. So no Orwell or Wells, I made the exception for ‘a clockwork orange’ since one of my best friends loved it so much and for ‘the handmaid’s tale’ because everyone seems to love it.
- There are some authors on this list that I’m scared to start reading because of what I heard about their writing. That’s why I only chose one book from them so that I can give up on the author if the writing is not my cup of tea. This is the case with Charles Dickens, G.G. Marquez and Fyodor Dostoeysky.
This is my list:
- Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
- My cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier
- Jamaica’s Inn by Daphne Du Maurier
- Villette by Charlotte Brontë
- Shirley by Charlotte Brontë
- The tenant of Wildfell hall by Anne Brontë
- Agnes Grey by Anne Brontë
- Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë (reread)
- War and peace by Leo Tolstoj
- Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoj
- Les misérables by Victor Hugo
- The count of monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
- The man in the iron mask by Alexandre Dumas
- La reine Margot by Alexandre Dumas
- The Borgias by Alexandre Dumas
- The prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
- Utopia by Thomas More
- Howard’s end by E.M. Forster
- A passage to India by E.M. Forster
- To kill a mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
- Tess d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
- Far from the madding crowd by Thomas Hardy
- Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
- Lady Chatterly’s lover by D.H. Lawrence
- I, Claudius by Robert Graves
- The handmaid’s tale by Margaret Atwood
- Tender is the night by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
- Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
- And then there were none by Agatha Christie
- Great expectations by Charles Dickens
- The color purple by Alice Walker
- The idiot by Fyodor Dostoeysky
- North and south by Elizabeth Gaskell
- The remains of the day by Kazuo Ishiguro
- Orlando by Virginia Woolf
- The fifth queen by Ford Madox Ford
- The woman in white by Wilkie Collins
- Treasure island by Robert Louis Stevenson
- The Iliad by Homer
- The Odyssey by Homer
- The scarlet letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- A clockwork orange by Anthony Burgess
- The cacher in the rye by J.D. Salinger
- The trial by Franz Kafka
- The bell jar by Sylvia Path
- Richard III by William Shakespeare
- Love in time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- East of Eden by John Steinbeck
What’s your favorite classic?