Blogmas #19: Mini Classic Review – Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place; and by the relentless investigations of the dogged Inspector Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.

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What Is Love? I have met in the streets a very poor young man who was in love. His hat was old, his coat worn, the water passed through his shoes and the stars through his soul.

Les Misérables is a beautiful novel and one I sorely wished I enjoyed more. The writing was lovely and the characters so fascinating, but for some reason, I just couldn’t connect with the novel.

The violence and the “catch me if you can” vibes between Jean Valjean and Javert was so interesting. The obsession for years and years, the stubbornness in the guise of justice … top tier. This book is one of the best representations of infatuation I’ve ever read.

Marius was difficult to care about because he had so many feelings that I just did not care about, to be brutally honest. I did feel for him when he discovers his father’s love for him and then, much later, reconciles with his grandfather. However, I was frustrated by his instalove of Cosette and how quickly infatuated with her he became, like when he gets angry at her after the wind blows her dress up so her leg is accidentally shown … all before he has ever spoken to her. Not to say I didn’t enjoy their relationship — I eventually did. But Marius is a simp and you’ll never change my mind.

Even the Friends of the ABC were just ok. And I feel bad about saying that! But I just could not seem to care about them or their friendship, and they really are supposed to be the heart of the novel. However, I adored little Gavroche — I don’t want to talk about what happens to him.

But in the end, the book’s title is completely accurate. “Les Miserables” translates to “the miserables ones” — and well, everyone in this novel is miserable. Even when Jean Valjean becomes rich and beloved by the people in his town, he’s still deeply unhappy as he’s had to hide his true self for fear he will be arrested again. Les Miserables is a table of the darkness that pervaded French society in the 1800s, a darkness that so many people tried to ignore. And I think the best part of this book, even though I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought, is that it is timeless. Because what the characters go through in this novel still happens to so many people in today’s world too.

2 thoughts on “Blogmas #19: Mini Classic Review – Les Misérables by Victor Hugo

  1. mphtheatregirl says:

    Well- I actually love this book. Yes, I started with the musical- but eventually read this book.

    Well= we have some differing opinions. I love Enjolras and the Friends of the ABC- their brotherly love and their hope and passion. Well, about Marius- I actually do love him as a character.

    This book is beautiful. Jean Valjean is one of the best literary protagonist that exist.


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