Although I haven't posted about it at the right times, I have been reading along in Candide and finished it on time.
In the later part of the book, Candide and his friends travel around the world. They discover that South America is mostly just as cruel and awful as Europe, but there is one isolated and secret place--El Dorado, where everyone is happy and kind, and gold and jewels are just dust by the wayside. Candide loves it there, but must continue to seek Cunegonde, so he takes lots of jewels with him and goes back to ordinary civilization. He promptly loses most of the wealth, but he's still quite well-off. Traveling back to Europe, he gains a new companion, Michael, who expects only suffering. They meet many miserable people and dethroned kings. They suddenly find all their old companions, even the dead ones, who aren't so dead after all. Cunegonde has lost her beauty and Candide no longer loves her, but marries her anyway out of duty. They all live miserably and bickeringly until they realize that happiness does not after all lie in enormous wealth and having lots of servants, but in laboring honestly and freely (in a garden!) to get their living.
Which I could have told them, actually. Ha.
I'm very glad for the readalong that made me read Candide--I was much more scared of it than I needed to be! (Lesson of the Classics Club: books are just not that scary. Probably even Ulysses isn't that scary.) Thanks to Fariba at Exploring Classics for hosting! (Due to bizarro Internet problems in my local area, I can't actually see Fariba's blog at the moment, which is a bummer, so I hope she sees me! I'm surprised I can post; WordPress is impossible but Blogger works. Weird.)