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But this was how books were written then, and he did it as well as it could be done. The language is marvelous and rich, the characters interesting and complete, and the story sweeping and classic.
Jean Valjean, freshly released from a French prison, is caught stealing silver from an extraordinarily pious Bishop. Amazingly, this Bishop denies the silver is stolen, allowing Valjean to go free. Valjean, brutalized by nineteen years of life in "the galleys" and suffering poverty and maltreatment as an ex-convict, is so affected by this merciful act that he vows to reform. Seven years later he has changed his name and transformed himself into a righteous and contributing member of society, now a prominent factory owner and town Mayor. Life is good as he shares his profits and kind heart with the poor and unfortunate--until his past catches up with him. Valjean is then faced with an incredible predicament whose genius and complexity can be appreciated only by plowing through the full text.
Historically, this is an important literary work. Much of its political and religious sub-text may be lost, however, on those unfamiliar with the basics of the French Revolution. Like Valjean, readers will be better people for making the journey through this book. --Christopher Bonn Jonnes, author of Wake Up Dead.
There is a chapter in which Cosette reads a letter that Marius has deposited in her garden, and it is full of beautiful, (I know I'm overusing this word, but there isn't a thesaurus handy and it's the perfect word for this book) insightful prose about love, the discovery of it, the joy of it, and the pain that comes when it is threatened.
Gavroche, the endearing gamin, is extremely funny in the quaint, charming way that is very classic, very Parisian, very Hugo.
The tragic deaths of almost all of the main characters are beautiful and poignant, and the descriptions of the ABC society (the young student revolutionaries) are wonderful.
The only qualm I have about this book is Hugo's slightly overdrawn descriptions, but they are hardly sufficient reason to overlook this treasure.
Please read this book, you'll be overjoyed that you did.
Victor Hugo takes us into the Parisian underworld. He shows us the battle between good and evil. Hugo uses Les Miserables as a platform to criticize the French political and judicial systems. He probably did not expect this story to become an epic that has touched the heart for more than a hundred years.
Reading this novel gives a clearer picture of how the French government reacted to the common people. It inspires the hope of an age of rebirth and revolution. There are also many themes played out in this novel that capture your thoughts and emotions. The story battles between good and evil. Morality is also a theme that is used many times in this novel. This book is definitely an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses and touches the heart. I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in the French Revolutionary times or someone who just wants a story that displays human emotions like you have never read before.
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