Where in the world do I even start?
I began reading Les Mis along with many other people from several different countries on Instagram through #ourdayswithlesmis hosted by @neyoandclassics. We started on March 1st and I finished on May 3rd.
I have not read the book previously; however, I did see the 2012 version of the movie/musical and recently watched the BBC mini-series. I recommend both - but NEVER in place of the actual book!
I was surprised that Hugo's writing (albeit translated) was so approachable. I was involved from the very first page.
The book made me laugh, literally cry out "NO!", made my heart ache, and brought me to tears. Only the BEST of the BEST books do that for me.
I can't begin to explain how I looked forward to picking up this tome each evening while reclining onto my collection of pillows and bringing out my annotation pouch and affixing my glasses upon the bridge of my nose. Honestly, during my work day I would think about this time coming up and get a little thrill from it. (You know you are a book nerd when.........hahahaha)
My favorite character, who is probably most readers' favorite character, has to be Jean ValJean. His transformation from an everyday man to a convicted felon - how he held that moniker no matter how much good he did, no matter how much love he felt, no matter who he really was inside. How at the perfect time in his life he met up with a saint of a man who did something that literally changed his life. Who proved to him that GOOD EXISTS. How no matter the amount of location and name changes he went through, he still gave generously to the poor, even to the detriment of his true identity being found out. How he used his physical strength and his strength of character. I LOVE HIM.
And little Gavroche .... how do you not just love him? There's no way not to!
I also loved how Hugo made most every character imperfect, and in those imperfections, made them more relatable. Fantine's struggles to be a good mother in the only way she could see how, ValJean's running from the law when he was truly good at heart, Javert's inner struggle to decide to do what was right by the law or to do right morally. Marius's struggle between his love for his grandfather and trying to honor the memory of his father. Cosette's devotion to her Papa and wanting to live in his hidden world while still looking for ways to be a part of the world as well.
The history and descriptive passages (oh who am I kidding? The historic and descriptive CHAPTERS) were a bit much. I won't lie, I sped read through most of that. Sorry Victor. I was so in love with the story itself I needed to know what happened. It did give me a lot of introspective views on what WAS a good book in 1862 versus 2022. Also the difference in books written in other countries and cultures. We Americans are not good at reading through 100 pages of descriptive text that aids the setting of the main storyline - and I'm ashamed that I didn't give it its due - because his writing ...... oh his writing is beautiful and even though the 19th century sewage system of France is not something I ever wanted to learn about - he took the time to write it and felt it was important enough to add it to his book, so I should have read it just as carefully as the rest!
But I digress....
I apologize that I don't do typical book reviews. When I do them, it's more about what the book made me feel than the book itself. But if/when I look back at this 10 years from now, I'll want to pick up this book and love it all over again.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo 5/5 Stars