Mrsgaskell's Reviews > Les Misérables I

Les Misérables I by Victor Hugo
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Oct 20, 11

bookshelves: 10-star, classics, read-in-french
Read in June, 2008

** spoiler alert ** I’m proud of myself for having made the effort to read this epic in French. At times it was a struggle to read through some of the political and historical digressions, because of lack of knowledge on my part, but Hugo is a brilliant writer and I think that this is probably the best book I have ever read. It isn’t necessarily the one I enjoyed most, although overall I certainly did enjoy it. My favourite characters besides Jean Val Jean include the good Bishop, Eponine, and Little Gavroche. From reading the very condensed version, Jean Val Jean, years ago I remembered the bishop giving JVJ the candlesticks and anticipated this part with pleasure. The cruelty, poverty and sheer misery of the times were so realistically depicted and Hugo’s thoughts were enlightening. Poor Fantine was abandoned by her lover and then so badly taken advantage of by the Thenardiers who mistreated little Cosette until she was rescued by JVJ who became a kind father to her. But they always had to live secretly prepared to be on the run again should they encounter that bloodhound Javert. Eventually even Javert came to realise that there is a difference between the law and justice, and commits suicide after JVJ saves him from the insurgents. JVJ’s struggles with his conscience, particularly during the Champmathieu affair, made gripping reading. The end of the book when Cosette and Marius have found happiness was so sad as JVJ retreated from their life so as not to taint it with his past.
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