A mediocre translation or was Dumas having a bad-book day? *Review for Wildside Press Edition*
Inquiring minds want to know, although I’m going to lean towards the former. The Queen’s Necklace begins ten years after the close of Memoirs of a Physician, as France recovers from the grips of a deadly winter and Marie Antoinette takes pity on Jeanne de Valois who claims to be descended from the Valois side of the monarchy, albeit from the wrong side of the blanket. Jeanne soon takes up with Cardinal de Rohan who in an effort to ingratiate himself at court offers the stunning necklace originally intended as a gift for the infamous Madame du Barry to the Queen. Thus begins Dumas’ take on the well known “Affair of the Diamond Necklace” which scandalized France and further degraded public opinion of the monarchy.
Dumas brings characters from the first two books into this story, as the mysterious Balsamo reappears under the new name of Count Cagliostro, Andrée resides at court in service to Marie and falls in love with the Count de Charny (who loves the Queen) and Philip (called Philippe in this book) returns from America and also finds himself madly in love with the Queen. Andrée’s former servant Nicole (who bears a striking resemblance to the Queen) now goes by the name of Oliva and is drawn into Jeane’s schemes as she masquerades as the Queen setting off further scandals, and eventually Marie and de Charny are caught in a compromising position which leads to a drastic ploy by Marie to save both herself and de Charny. Will this ploy fulfill the secret desire of our heroine Andrée, or does a twist of fate forever change her happiness to great sorrow? I’ll never tell, but that was one heck of a plot twist!
Unfortunately, what should have been a ripping good read was ruined by a dreadful translation. I’ve read many works of Dumas and his storylines always move quickly with plentiful action and sparkling dialogue and displays the foibles and machinations of the French Monarchy to perfection. This book was stilted, slow paced with some of the most un-Dumas like dialogue I’ve ever come across. Worse yet, since most chapters were 3-4 pages long (this from an author who was paid by the word!!??) and from comparing the page count of this version (329) to that of another (432) I’m guessing quite a bit of the story was left out, and frankly I would have bailed on the book except for the fact that I intend to read the rest of the series and didn’t want to lose the story. The first two in the series of six I’ve read were much older publications, published in the early 1900’s by P.F. Collier and Son. If you are interested in reading the entire series I recommend you check your library and/or shop the online used sellers for one of those copies. Next up in the series, Taking the Bastile.
I do want to note that this review is for the Wildside Press edition and my comments about translation problems should not be reflected against other publishers of this book. I’m stating this as I notice that any reviews posted for one version of this book are showing up on others, and I suspect my review will show up on those editions as well.