Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Review - Les Miserables

I finished reading Les Miserables about two months ago but it took me all this time to come up with a review. It took me about six months to finish reading the book (reading one to two chapters in the mornings while eating breakfast at the factory) and developed a love-hate relationship toward the book. I'll explain later.

Les Miserables was written by Victor Hugo and published in 1862. It is called a historical novel for good reason: it gives the reader a look into France in the years from 1815 to 1832. Yes, the novel spans 17 years in the life of France. It is not a history book, though you might be able to use it for that. As is my standard for making book reviews, I am refraining from talking about the story and give only my impressions.

I mentioned that I had a love-hate relationship with the book. Several times I just wanted to stop reading and erase the book from my mobile phone. It's not because it's so long (about 1,500 pages, maybe 150,000+ words) but because it digresses quite often. Many pages are devoted to treatise that have nothing to do with the story. There is one about the Battle of Waterloo, another about religious orders, and yet another about the sewers of Paris. There's more but I'm not going to state all of them. If Hugo excluded them from the novel, I believe the book would shrink by about half (maybe more).

If I don't mind the digressions, I can honestly say...the novel was great! I loved the story, which is about the journey of one man from bad to good, a mother's love for her child, a love affair from a distance becoming a love affair of husband and wife,  and the despair of a love lost. If there is anything I would have wanted to change (other than the digresssions), it would just be one.

There is a character in the book by the name of Epinone. Her part in the book is relatively short but I think her character could have been developed a bit more. Hers was a love that was unrecognized, that only she knew about. She reveals her love later but it was unrewarded, which I found a bit sad.

It was a relief to turn the last page and also a proud moment. I had successfully read one of the greatest books of the 19th century!

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