Les Misérables

Les Misérables

by Victor Hugo

  • First published:  1862
  • Pages: paperback, 1233 pages
  • Rating: 5/5

“Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.” 

In short:

10 days and a rollercoaster of emotions later… I have a new favourite book.

In long:

I’ve known the musical songs of Les Miserables for years (and I know them by heart and the book constantly triggered my brain to sing the songs… jeez), I’ve seen the latest adaptation and some earlier adaptations, but I’ve never read the book until today! And 1232 pages later I can say, reading Les Mis is totally worth it:

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.” 
  1. Albeit its length, it never gets boring! All those tiny details add up to a complex but beautiful entity and I wouldn’t want to miss a word.
  2. Jean Valjean. This man broke my heart. He’s such a gentle soul but he punishes himself too hard.
  3. Marius. The amount of information regarding Marius in this book in comparison to the films is astonishing and really enlighting; especially regarding his political views. Really interesting.
  4. Javert. At first, I wanted to write: He’s such a great villain, but he’s not a villain, is he?! He may be JV’s antagonist, but he’s not the villain in the story. But he is a great, complex and eventually highly conflicted character.

    “I am the law and the law is not mocked.”

  5. The Thénardiers; such witty and mean weasels.
  6. Éponine. A poor girl burdened with the wrong parents.
  7. Cosette. Poor, poor child, but later she comes across as a bit too spoiled. But who can blame her?
  8. Fantine. Oh, Fantine. Her life has been such a tragedy, yet she has fought bravely for her child while ‘the father’ continued his spoiled life just like before. Life definitely is not fair. Thanks, Victor, for reminding us.
  9. The ending. Even though I always know how the story ends, I shed a tear.  It’s just overwhelmingly sad and happy at the same time. Well done!

    “Teach the ignorant as much as you can; society is culpable in not providing a free education for all and it must answer for the night which it produces. If the soul is left in darkness sins will be committed. The guilty one is not he who commits the sin, but he who causes the darkness.”

All in all, the books combine everything I love about reading: complex characters, lovely prose, interesting thoughts, and a well-developed plot. This book definitely is a new favourite of mine and I’m going to read more Hugo in the future. Next on the list: Notre-Dame de Paris.

“Nothing is more imminent than the impossible . . . what we must always foresee is the unforeseen.”

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3 Comments Add yours

  1. I fell in love with the musical before reading the book. The musical helped me understand what was going on in the book. I could pick up on moments that mirror the exact scene from the musical so I wrote down the song. I read it in about three months and if I read it again, I plan to read it at a slower pace. I gained a bigger appreciation of the characters and storyline after reading the book

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I liked the musical before reading the book, but now I appreciate those great songs even more. Both book and musical work really great together and complement each other. I’m definitely going to read it again too. It’s such a complex and really suspenseful story. Regarding the characters: I was surprised how different Marius is in contrast to the musical and the films. I always thought he is only a rich boy, following his political views, but he is so much more and in the end joins his friends on the barricade for another reason than politics. That was a surprising twist for me. So thank you for your comment. I’m always happy when sb else enjoys such great work (and musicals ;))

    Like

    1. Due to reading the book, I have a bigger appreciation of the musical. While some things are slightly different, the musical still complements the book really well. Since I read the book and saw the musical, my interpretations of the characters is a combination of who they are in the book and who they are in the musical and who I saw in the musical. The story is very complex and while heartbreaking it is still a tale of hope, love, compassion, forgiveness, humanity, sacrifice, and redemption.

      I loved musicals before Les Mis, but Les Mis turned my love of musicals into a passion. It challenged everything I once knew about musicals, but I am glad it changed the way I view musicals forever.

      Like

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