On Day 4 of BBAW, we’re to highlight a book that needs more love. After reading Georges I couldn’t think of a better book to talk about today. I didn’t get this review up before, so I’m using it as my post today. Yes, I know it is rather long, but I couldn’t stop talking about Georges! Just read my review. DO IT!
Let’s get started.
Georges’s story begins on the island of L’ile de France, aka Mauritius, where his Dad, Pierre, is a wealthy mixed-race plantation owner. Pierre has always acted inferior to the whites of the island and Georges does not like it. When he is sent away to France after a white rich dude is insulted by Georges, his brother Jacques, and Pierre, Georges vows to make everyone pay. He does this by becoming awesome. He’s brilliant, handsome, brave, well-traveled, and uber-rich. He’s sexy and he knows it.
Now that Georges is as awesome as a man can be, he returns to L’ile de France. No one recognizes him but he knows his old enemy: Henri de Malmedie. Henri is just as big of a racist ass as he ever was. He’s also engaged to the most beautiful girl on the island, his cousin Sara. Sara is not only beautiful but a free spirited island girl who runs around climbing trees, and swims in the ocean. She even wears flowers in her hair. Oh that Sara! (Imagine Zooey Deschanel here.) Sara is a smitten kitten after Georges saves her from a shark by shooting it! Still, no one knows who he is.
Then there’s a Ball. Georges enters, is introduced, and pearls are grabbed in shock. At this point I thought Sara was just a flighty piece of fluff but she is sensitive enough to be ashamed of the way people are treating Georges. In fact, when Henri tells her she can’t dance with Georges if he asks her, she tells him he’s just being a jerk because Georges isn’t white and if she can’t dance with Georges then she’s not dancing with anyone including him *hair toss, flounces away.* Georges guesses what’s gone on and secretly declares his love for her. Sara has just become a plot device.
Georges is head over heels in love with his enemy’s fiancé. How convenient. Georges, humble as ever, thinks to himself that if he, a worldly handsome guy, is in love with this simple island girl then she must be a hot mess for him because, come on, he’s so awesome! Then just to top it all off, he rides through a hurricane to ask her to marry him, and wait for him no matter how long it takes. I think they’ve spoken to each other all of five minutes. Anyway. Georges is so overcome with passion for her, he jumps out a window rather than deflower his flower. I thought this was hilarious because, could you imagine Mr Darcy jumping out a window to avoid having sexytimes with Lizzy? It’s so French.
Georges goes to Sara’s uncle (another racist ass) and asks to marry her, even though she’s engaged to his son. You know how this is going to go. Insult. Insult. More insults. Georges declares REVENGE!
This Georges does but he also makes the tragic mistake of thinking of himself as more powerful than God. You know God is going to put his foot down here. So when Georges leads a slave rebellion, things don’t go as planned.
Oh yes, there’s slavery. This story suffers from 19th century issues. Georges family owns slaves, Jacques is a slave trader, but it’s all okay because they’re very nice to them. I’m like: NO IT’S NOT OKAY. I know this was done, but still…icky. Then Dumas wraps up a storyline with stereotyping and I was quite disappointed with him. Before that point I was enjoying the story very much. Dumas does get things back on track though and then I was with him through the swashbuckling ending.
So there’s revenge, romance, adventure, and a couple of bromances. Georges feels a kinship with Lord Murray, the new governor of the island, and Laiza, Lion of Anjouan, a slave. Both are reflections of Georges: brave, noble, and ready to die for their cause, whatever it might be. Georges admires them both. Brother Jacques is also brave but he has a different world view than Georges. When life is unfair, he hops on his ship and has some piratey fun. His life, his lover, his lady is the sea. He’s practical and has a devil-may-care attitude. I loved Jacques! He has the same thoughts I had when Georges tries to claim Sara, sort of like this, “Dude, did you really think they were going to hand her over to you? She’s engaged to Henri, because she’s got money.” Then he tells him to come on the ship and he’ll find him a bunch of other ladies. Ah Jacques, such a romantic.
I never did get through The Three Musketeers because it was so ridiculous but looooved Georges. Yes, the girl is nothing more than a plot device, their love is Instalove, and also slavery, but it is unique for its treatment of racial prejudice during the time period, something Dumas knew himself as a mixed-race person. Georges was never a popular book because of this (I couldn’t find an English translation on Project Gutenberg). Now, with this excellent translation by Tina A Kover, there is no excuse not to read it! Go, read! Go, I say!