I don’t know if you’ve seen the little “Goodreads” widget on my sidebar. I add what books I’m reading, and the selection will change as I finish one, and add another.
Well, Les Miserables has been on there for a while. Have you seen the size of that book?? It’s huge! (My Kindle Keyboard did not tell me this when I began my ominous journey into the saga of French history 🙂 )
Well, it’s still on there, but that is because I forget to update my progress on Goodreads. But, I finished it!! I have now read Les Miserables front to back!
I wanted to read it through, at least once. But next time I go through, I will know what pieces I can cut, haha, haha. 😀
This is my very personal review of Les Miserables, (English version).
Les Miserables is a big book. It is long, but it is worth reading for three reasons. 1. To say you’ve read Les Miserables, 2. To finally understand the gaps in the movie and play, 3. To understand French history better.
The writing in Les Miserables is pretty good. In the places in which his writing excels, you can really feel what he is talking about, even if you’ve never been there. (My favorite part is his description of Cosette in the woods – he made those woods so life-like and so scary.)
At other times, there is too much stuff that makes no sense now-a-days. Like the 10-pages-long description of French streets (or was it government officials?) whose names I neither knew, nor could pronounce.
I did find it amazing how every rabbit trail that Victor Hugo went down, actually had purpose. I was startled to discover the amount of depth that it added to the story to have the complete Battle of Waterloo recounted to me, or the backstory of the Bishop who gave him the candlesticks (makes up the first 10% of the book), or (my favorite) the explanation— er, now, I can’t remember it. – but it was cool.
I would sigh when he would divert from the action to explain himself, yet again, going into in-depth histories of various parts of Paris, France or a character’s life, however, it was TOTALLY worth it (most of the time… his treatise on slang, and whether or not is essential was kinda tiresome), — TOTALLY worth it and necessary for completely understanding the book and the happenings in it.
What I now understand:
- The complete depravity of Fantine’s state, at the point which Jean Valjean helps her.
- Cosette’s growing up.
- How in the world Jean Valjean went from social class, to social class and situation to situation.
- The end to the story (this is only told in the musical, not the movie) (and it’s not nearly as sad as it is in the musical! you don’t get to say that often 🙂 )
- The barricades.
- How Jean Valjean got Cosette into the convent.
Backstories that are in the book:
- The Bishop!! Go bishop!
- The sewers of Paris (Yes, they have a backstory, crazy, right?)
- Marius. Marius!!! Yes, Marius has a backstory, and I don’t hate him soo much (I don’t like romance, people!)
- Monsieur Thernadier – Oh, my, gosh, those guys are evil.
- Gavroche – the little guy has a story!
I think it would be great to have a TV series that had the entire book portrayed 🙂
It was great to read, but I think he was both a masterful writer and a little bit too subjective. He went from one to the other in the book. Totally worth the read and totally a great book to know. I see why it became a classic, but I think so much gets missed in a movie that people won’t appreciate it because (like me) they are like, “What? Huh?”
Ah, and last thing. There was a question I had from the movie and this was the answer I got from the book (you probably already surmised this 🙂 ) – Interestingly enough, aside from the Thernadiers and anyone else he ran in a gang with, there is no one evil in the book. Weird, yes? Javert is actually like a driven puppy – he wants to do what is right. He isn’t wrong, he isn’t right, he just wants to uphold the law. While that juxtaposes him to the protaganist, Jean Valjean, it doesn’t make him the antagonist. Throughout the book it’s almost like Jean Valjean is breaking the 4th wall, telling us that Javert is not the antagonist, no matter how much we want him to be. Just wanted to get that out there 🙂
Spoiler alerts exist, but you might be interested in reading “The Story Girl”‘s review on it. It sounded surprisingly similar to mine! 🙂 I found it while searching for images 🙂
Have you read Les Miserables?
Do you want to read Les Miserables?