A distinct departure from his popular comic novels, this haunting, provocative tale of wrongful imprisonment and violent retribution is Stephen Fry's first thriller. A brilliant recasting of the classic story The Count of Monte Cristo, Revenge crackles with the wit and intelligence readers have come to expect from this hugely talented author, actor, and comedian, yet it reveals an intriguingly deep, much darker side of his imagination.
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Random House Trade Paperbacks
December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from Revenge by Stephen Fry
It all began sometime in the last century, in an age when lovers wrote letters to each other sealed up in envelopes. Sometimes they used colored inks to show their love, or they perfumed their writing paper with scent.
41 Plough Lane,
Monday, June 2nd 1980
I'm sorry about the smell. I hope you've opened this somewhere private, all on your own. You'll get teased to distraction otherwise. It's called Rive Gauche, so I'm feeling like Simone de Beauvoir and I hope you're feeling like Jean-Paul Sartre. Actually I hope you aren't because I think he was pretty horrid to her. I'm writing this upstairs after a row with Pete and Hillary. Ha, ha, ha! Pete and Hillary, Pete and Hillary, Pete and Hillary. You hate it when I call them that, don't you I love you so much. If you saw my diary you'd die. I wrote a whole two pages this morning. I drew up a list of everything that's wonderful and glorious about you and one day when we're together forever I might let you look at it and you'll die again.
I wrote that you're old-fashioned.
One: The first time we met, you stood up when I entered the room, which was sweet, but it was the Hard Rock Cafe and I was coming out of the kitchen to take your order.
Two: Every time I refer to my mum and dad as Pete and Hillary, you go pink and tighten your lips.
Three: When you first talked to Pete and-all right, I'll let you off-when you first talked to Mum and Dad, you let them go on and on about private education and private health and how terrible it was and how evil the government is and you never said a word. About your dad being a Tory MP, I mean. You talked beautifully about the weather and incomprehensibly about cricket. But you never let on.
That's what the row today was about, in fact. Your dad was on Weekend World at lunchtime, you prolly saw him. (I love you, by the way. God, I love you so much.)
"Where do they find them " barked Pete, stabbing a finger at the television. "Where do they find them "
"Find who " I said coldly, gearing up for a fight.
"Whom," said Hillary.
"These tweed-jacketed throwbacks," said Pete. "Look at the old fart. What right has he got to talk about the miners He wouldn't recognize a lump of coal if it fell into his bowl of Brown Windsor soup."
"You remember the boy I brought home last week " I said, with what I'm pretty sure any observer would call icy calm.
"Job security, he says!" Pete yelled at the screen. "When have you ever had to worry about job security, Mr. Eton, Oxford, and the Guards " Then he turned to me. "Hm What, boy When "
He always does that when you ask him a question-says something else first, completely off the subject, and then answers your question with one (or more) of his own. Drives me mad. (So do you, darling Neddy. But mad with deepest love.) If you were to say to my father, "Pete, what year was the battle of Hastings " he'd say, "They're cutting back on unemployment benefit. In real terms it's gone down by five percent in just two years. Five percent. Bastards. Hastings Why do you want to know Why Hastings Hastings was nothing but a clash between warlords and robber barons. The only battle worth knowing about is the battle between . . ." and he'd be off. He knows it drives me mad. I think it prolly drives Hillary mad too. Anyway, I persevered.
"The boy I brought home," I said. "His name was Ned. You remember him perfectly well. It was his half term. He came into the Hard Rock two weeks ago."
"The Sloane Ranger in the cricket jumper, what about him "
"He is not a Sloane Ranger!"
"Looked like one to me. Didn't he look like a Sloane Ranger to you, Hills "
"He was certainly very polite," Hillary said.