Reviews

Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo

chantaal's review against another edition

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4.0

Holy shit, I'm finished.

frappucinno's review against another edition

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5.0

"You can give without loving, but you can never love without giving. The great acts of love are done by those who are habitually performing small acts of kindness. We pardon to the extent that we love. Love is knowing that even when you are alone, you will never be lonely again. & great happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved. Loved for ourselves. & even loved in spite of ourselves."

still crying, what the heck. i knew les misérables was a really famous novel (including the musical adaption, too), but when i picked this up for our required reading, i didn't think i'd be this.. affected.

like, wow. i don't even know where to start or what to say. i have so many feelings about this book. hatred for marius (no rights for you, you suck), admiration for jean valjean, pity for the thenardiers, support for the les amis de l'abc.. just, a lot.

i've been so busy this month that this is the only book i've picked up for the whole entirety of it and happy to say that i don't regret it.

"Friends, the hour in which we live, and in which I speak to you, is a gloomy hour, but of such is the terrible price of the future. A revolution is a tollgate. Oh! The human race shall be delivered, uplifted, and consoled! We affirm it on this barricade. Whence shall arise the shout of love, if it be not from the summit of sacrifice?"

courtneydoss's review against another edition

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5.0

Vive la France! Vive l’avenir!

I went into this book with certain preconceptions about Victor Hugo and his writing. Having read The Hunchback of Notre Dame not long ago, I expected an unabridged version of this massive novel would be filled with Hugo's trademark blabbering. And it was - but it was also filled with so much depth that I hardly minded the pages long essay on the Paris sewer system.

Victor Hugo's masterpiece follows Jean Valjean, a man whose life is ruined after he steals bread to feed his sister's seven children. Serving nineteen years in prison for the crime, he exits the hard work of the galleys to find that he is a pariah, mistreated and shunned at every turn. He is tempted back into crime in order to survive, but an act of kindness sends him on a path of redemption. Except, the persistent Javert seeks to return Valjean to the prison that he has just narrowly escaped.

The book also follows a fallen woman named Fantine who is wooed, and then dumped, by a man who knocks her up on his way out the door. Impoverished and desperately trying to provide a quality life for her daughter, Cosette, Fantine must leave her daughter in the care of the Thenardiers until she earns enough to support Cosette; but the Thenardiers' demand increasingly more money for Cosette's keep, ensuring that Fantine will never reach her goal.

These are just the beginnings of Jean Valjean and Fantine's stories, and they are decidedly Parisian (read: tragic). But the main value of this book comes not from the characters stories, but from the political undertones that Hugo sews into his narrative. Set in the era surrounding the French Revolution, Hugo brings to life a city on the cusp of political upheaval.

As an American in the 21st century, it is shocking how relevant a story written so long ago can be to the current political climate. In Les Miserables families are divided across party lines, anger and frustration lead to battles in the streets, and the whims of the powerful make playthings of the poor. It is not difficult to imagine Enjolras giving impassioned speeches at the barricades, because turning on the news can show the same thing.

Another relevant point in Les Miserables is its critique of the prison industrial complex. The prisoners were made to work, thereby generating money, which incentivized keeping the prisons fully stocked. People were locked away for nothing, and when they did commit a crime, they were punished for far longer than could be reasonably expected. As the most incarcerated nation in the world, the United States is mirrored in Les Miserables and it is an ugly picture.

I never expected that I would do this, but I'm proud of myself for making it all the way through the unabridged version. It was quite a journey, and I was dying of boredom sometimes, but I persevered and was rewarded with a magnificent story. With that said, I will never read the unabridged version again.

briannanesbitt's review against another edition

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5.0

If anyone ever asks me to choose a defining text or piece of art to describe who I am, it would be this book. Also, Enjolras is the greatest fictional character of all time.

megaden's review against another edition

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4.0

3.5 bumped up to 4 for Goodreads. Victor Hugo sure can write. Even in the long digressions about convents, or street slang, or frickin' Waterloo there would be beautiful phrases. However, I found the characters to be poorly developed and the plot hung on a series of increasingly unbelievable coincidences. I did like the story, but I didn't love this "masterpiece."

fuad's review against another edition

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4.0

"Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise."

I won't say I've enjoyed Les Miserables very much. It has too many details. Yes, I've skipped some parts. But this book has definitely many sad and surprising moments. The chapters are relatively short. And the writing is also beautiful. I'll definitely read Victor Hogo's other books as soon as possible.

sinamile's review against another edition

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5.0

ARC Review: Received for free via Netgalley for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

TW: abuse, suicide, death

Oh, that was amazing. It took me a long ass time to finally work up the energy to watch the movie and I ended up absolutely loving it. I never thought I'd actually read the book, but this manga helped. I don't know if I'll ever read the original, but this manga helped. I absolutely loved and enjoyed it. The art was amazing, I enjoyed the story and the pacing and everything just worked. I also learned new information that I wasn't aware of, things that were left out in the movie.

This is a fun and easy read, and very well done.

anmcnulty's review against another edition

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5.0

Of course, it was great. But why did we need so many pages of a history of the Battle of Waterloo and the history of the Parisien sewers?

lolita's review against another edition

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emotional hopeful informative reflective slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? No
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

mommachristy2's review against another edition

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5.0

Such an amazing book. So glad that I stuck it out and finished it! For more of my opinio, check out my blog at christybooklust.blogspot.com