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Les Miserables

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Victor Hugo's novel of early 19th Century France, as told through the experiences of the ex-convict, Jean Valjean. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colorful comic strip form, providing an excellent introduction for younger readers. Also includes theme discussions and study questions.


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Victor Hugo's novel of early 19th Century France, as told through the experiences of the ex-convict, Jean Valjean. Classics Illustrated tells this wonderful tale in colorful comic strip form, providing an excellent introduction for younger readers. Also includes theme discussions and study questions.

30 review for Les Miserables

  1. 4 out of 5

    Els

    How that managed to be so infinitely more boring than even the section on convents in the Brick I will never know.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Jackson

    Les Miserables was one of those books that sat on my bookshelf for years untouched, not because I didn't want to read it, but because I was intimidated to. I had heard so much rumor about the book — or, more likely, about the musical and movie, since I doubt most of the people saying it have actually read the 1200+ page book. I even knew that author Victor Hugo himself wanted to publicize it and glorify it before its publication, hinting at its reputation as a classic masterpiece. Somehow, Les Miserables was one of those books that sat on my bookshelf for years untouched, not because I didn't want to read it, but because I was intimidated to. I had heard so much rumor about the book — or, more likely, about the musical and movie, since I doubt most of the people saying it have actually read the 1200+ page book. I even knew that author Victor Hugo himself wanted to publicize it and glorify it before its publication, hinting at its reputation as a classic masterpiece. Somehow, though, it was a book I never knew the ending to, despite it being talked about all over the Internet. When I did get a chance to finally read it (but not the edition listed here), I was more confused than anything — not about the story but why it's so deified. The book wanders back and forth, up and down, with a sometimes disconnected and pedantic plot. At times it's incredibly interesting, with a backstory and philosophical impact that leaves you thinking about poverty and abandonment more than you did before. And the way Hugo managed to weave everyone's stories into one life in 19th century France was done very well also; I never felt that the connections between the characters were forced. As a whole, though, the entire text is a slow read. Even the most exciting of action scenes (e.g. the Jondrette scene) left me rereading some portions when Hugo went on for pages describing the apartment in which a character lived, or the curtains in Cosette's room, or anything of the sort. The story wheedles often. Hugo also inserts far too many digressions about poverty, war, fate, history, war, French culture, etc., etc., without any of it being really connected to the plot. I felt the book would have been more effective if Hugo had perhaps published those "essays" separately, as a complement to the book so readers could focus more easily on only the story of Jean Valjean. (Speaking of which, he wasn't even introduced in the book until page 50. The first chunk was devoted to the godliness and righteousness of a bishop who doesn't even stay alive long after that.) It was as if Hugo wanted everyone to know he was smart and a good writer: he name-dropped like crazy and referenced historical events ranging from biblical times to the "future" of what was happening in the main plot of the book. Is it a classic masterpiece, then? I'm divided. On the one hand, the historical epic within it is indeed remarkable, and I found myself hooked at numerous points in the book. The unknown fate of Jean Valjean was the reason I remained eager to keep reading, and I tried to apply Hugo's musings on life and philosophy to the sections they preceded or succeeded, especially as Jean Valjean's life was aboard that French roller coaster. That being said, Jean Valjean's fate was totally underwhelming. The book was built completely up around him, and the last chapters rightly reflect on his whole life, but it seemed rushed and without moral itself — despite the entire rest of the book being about his redemption. Maybe I sort of fell out of love with his character over the lengthy time I knew him, but the end was a letdown. Come to think of it, none of the characters particularly resonated with me in the end. Sure, I'm a little sad I finished the book, because I often experience some withdrawal after reading a powerful book — and powerful Les Miserables was. But the first three sections were so heartwrenching and depressing that I was able to show some sympathy for the characters. When their fortunes changed and new problems came into their lives, problems that affected everyone, young or old, rich or poor, I no longer had a special place for them reserved in my heart. In the end, I found both Cosette and Marius whiny and annoying and Jean Valjean a disappointment. It was as if Hugo wanted to create as happy an ending as possible but couldn't find a way to wrap everything up realistically. I think perhaps I'll have to watch some movie/musical adaptations of the book and reread it in another view years and then perhaps I'll appreciate it more. But I could feel too much of Hugo himself in the novel to really enjoy it; he seemed to shout, through the near-perfect redemption of Jean Valjean, that everyone should read a moral in his story. And that's not to say there aren't many, many morals in the book, but more of my expression of annoyance that Hugo felt the need to explicitly ask us to notice one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mugga

    Having seen the musical once and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times it was interesting to read the novel when you go into it knowing all the characters but only having a vague memory of the story. I'd put this book in that category of special and rare books I consider "life changing" in that I cannot stop thinking about it every day multiple times a day. In my head, I keep rolling around the morals vs. ethics themes in this book so well illustrated by Jean Valjean and Javert. The pacing Having seen the musical once and listened to the soundtrack hundreds of times it was interesting to read the novel when you go into it knowing all the characters but only having a vague memory of the story. I'd put this book in that category of special and rare books I consider "life changing" in that I cannot stop thinking about it every day multiple times a day. In my head, I keep rolling around the morals vs. ethics themes in this book so well illustrated by Jean Valjean and Javert. The pacing of this book is also fascinating. I would call myself a slow reader and in my half hour bus ride some days I read 4 pages and some days I read 20 pages depending on which chapter I was reading. In some ways there are similarities to the Dickensian cliff hanger but it goes beyond that. Hugo will give you a 60 page history of the Battle of Waterloo just to get your pulse down (so it seems) so he can catch you off guard with a plot twist... which by the way, I should have saw coming, right? Because I knew the story already. And yet, to my delight, I still fell for it every single time. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for something epic but not boring, plot driven but also philosophical, and historical but also incredibly relevant today (there's even a chapter on urban sanitation system's (or lack thereof) effect on water and air quality! From the 1860s!!)

  4. 4 out of 5

    Larissa H.

    Les Miserables takes place in 19th century France, from the end of Napoleon’s rule to the start of the revolution. The story is about an ex-convict named Jean Valjean who served nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Because he’s an ex-convict no one will give him a place to stay except for the bishop Myriel. Valjean steals the bishop’s silver and runs away but is caught and brought back. The bishop then gives Valjean the silver and tells him to use it to become an honest man. Les Miserables takes place in 19th century France, from the end of Napoleon’s rule to the start of the revolution. The story is about an ex-convict named Jean Valjean who served nineteen years in prison for stealing a loaf of bread. Because he’s an ex-convict no one will give him a place to stay except for the bishop Myriel. Valjean steals the bishop’s silver and runs away but is caught and brought back. The bishop then gives Valjean the silver and tells him to use it to become an honest man. After leaving the bishop, Valjean robs a young boy, feels awful about himself afterwards and decides to change his ways. He changes his name to Father Madeleine, becomes a business owner and a mayor of another town. During this time there’s a woman, Fantine, with an illegitimate child. She needs to support her child but is afraid she won’t be able to find work as an unmarried mother. So she leaves her daughter, Cosette, with some innkeepers, the Thenardiers, and promises to send them money to take care of her. Fantine goes to work in Madeleine’s factory but is fired when one of the other workers learns of her child. She sells her hair, teeth, and becomes a prostitute to support her daughter, becoming extremely ill in the process. When she is unjustly arrested, Madeleine lets her go and makes sure she is taken care of in the hospital. The police chief, Javert suspected that Madeleine was really the criminal Valjean but was mistaken because they had captured the “real” Valjean and he was about to go to trial. Madeleine cannot let an innocent man pay for his crimes and he stops the trial and admits his real identity. Valjean escapes from prison and goes to get Cosette. He pays the Thenardiers for her and takes her away to Paris. Cosette is the first real love Valjean has ever known. But Javert discovers them in Paris and they go into hiding in a convent. Meanwhile, Marius Pontmercy is a young student living in a run-down apartment building next to the Jondrette family. He was raised by his wealthy, royalist grandfather, Gillenormand, who took him away from his republican father when he was little. Marius doesn’t know much about his father, a colonel in Napoleon’s army, until his father dies and he meets one of his friends. He begins to admire his father and his beliefs. He has a falling out with his grandfather and he starts to hang out with a group of radicals. One day he sees Cosette sitting in the park with Valjean and he instantly falls in love with her. He goes to the park everyday just to see her but then they go away and he doesn’t see her for months. One day he sees them visiting his neighbors to give them money. The Jondrettes are actually the Thenardiers who recognize Cosette and Valjean and form a plan to rob them. Marius overhears this and goes to the police inspector, Javert. He interrupts the robbery and arrests the Thenardiers. Cosette is also in love with Marius. They find each other and meet secretly for months until Valjean decides to move abroad. Marius doesn’t want to live without her so he decides to join his friends at the barricade and die. At the barricade, Javert is caught as a spy and Eponine, the Thenardiers eldest daughter, sacrifices herself to save Marius. Marius sends a boy, Gavroche to give Cosette a letter, but Valjean intercepts it and goes to the barricade to protect him. He recognizes Javert there and lets him go free. Valjean then escapes the barricade with Marius and takes him home. Javert can’t handle Valjean letting him go so he kills himself. Marius makes up with his grandfather and then he marries Cosette. Valjean confesses his true identity to Marius and Marius edges him out of Cosette’s life. Then he learns that Valjean saved him and he and Cosette go to find him right before he dies. While I enjoyed the musical/movie version of Les Miserables, I didn’t appreciate the book as much. The majority of the characters end up miserable or dead except for Cosette and Marius, the only ones to get a happy ending. The plot is extremely complicated and easy to get lost in. The author does show many aspects of real life though. Firstly, there is the social injustice in life. Without equality between the classes and proper education, many people end up making bad decisions. Valjean isn’t educated until he goes to prison and after that he starts to make better choices. Fantine loses everything, including her daughter, because she is so naive. It also shows that sometimes people must do what is morally right even if it goes against human laws. Valjean steals to feed his family so they won’t starve. Valjean confesses in court to save an innocent man even though it means he’ll go to jail. He also lets Javert go even though it means Javert will most likely find him later and send him to jail again. Valjean always does what is morally right, not what is legally right, even it isn’t advantageous for him. The last thing it shows is the importance of love. Valjean changes his ways because of loving compassion from the priest and in turn goes on to love Cosette, who has never known love either. Love also redeems Eponine who sacrifices herself out of selfless love for Marius. It shows that love is really the only important thing in this world. If you like really complicated plots, miserable characters, and a bunch of old French that google translate doesn’t understand, then you should read this book. If not, then go watch the movie because at least the music is good and it does a better job of bringing out the points of the story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Isenhoff

    This is not a book for the faint of heart. It took me scores of hours to read it, and that was with a good deal of skimming. Mr. Hugo has the old-fashioned habit of rabbit-trailing—often for five or six chapters at a time. As soon as he left the storyline, I started clicking my Kindle with the briefest scan of a page. He does a lot of name dropping, a good deal of drifting into politics and histories (particularly French history that I’m not well-versed in), and his commentary on related This is not a book for the faint of heart. It took me scores of hours to read it, and that was with a good deal of skimming. Mr. Hugo has the old-fashioned habit of rabbit-trailing—often for five or six chapters at a time. As soon as he left the storyline, I started clicking my Kindle with the briefest scan of a page. He does a lot of name dropping, a good deal of drifting into politics and histories (particularly French history that I’m not well-versed in), and his commentary on related subjects stretches long. For example, when Jean Valjean must hide in a convent, we get several chapters on the pros, cons, and extensive history of convents. Skip, skip, skip. The delivery of the main storyline is scattershot, as well. Jean Valjean is our main character, a convict. We don’t meet him, however, until we complete an entire volume written about the priest who serves to change the course of Jean’s life. As a changed man, albeit one hiding from the law under an assumed name, Jean takes up an honest trade, becomes quite wealthy, does good to the poor, and comes in contact with Fantine. Another entire volume is written about this particular woman, who represents the suffering of all women under an unjust and uncaring society. She is a discarded prostitute forced to leave her daughter under the care a cruel family and eventually dies of wretchedness. Jean learns of the woman’s misery and sets out to save the daughter. The remainder of the story revolves around his selfless acts on the daughter’s behalf, despite evil forces that seek to destroy them, and the love that springs up between them (interspersed, of course, among two more volumes about other characters that seem unrelated until they cross paths with Jean). Jean is a good man, a self-sacrificing man, a martyr, a Christ figure. However long, sidewinding, piecemeal, and did I say long? the story may be, the meat of it has been enduring. It makes a number of social statements, foremost, that an unjust and uncaring society causes suffering. Who are “Les Miserables?” All mankind. “Misery has been the garment of the human race,” the author explains in an afterward. The state of women and children (represented by Fantine and by various Parisan street urchins), the protection or lack of protection given to them, is the indicator of a civilization. And society comes up short. Poverty, starvation, and the neglect of children... Monarchies that are oppressive and self-indulgent at the expense of the populace... There is a great deal said about the need for social reforms, such as free and compulsory education which we now take for granted. But the book also draws hope from the promise of heaven, when all will be corrected. Victor Hugo relates some very strong Christian convictions. God, he says at one point, is the main character in his book. Man is the second. Grace and forgiveness are upheld against the strict rule of law. The storyline of Les Miserables, when you can uncover it, is very powerful. The book gives a unique look at the strengths and weaknesses of nineteen century society. It also takes a hard look at the evil and nobility of mankind. It is well worth reading, and I am very curious to see a modern adaption (movie or stage performance). But I think, for modern readers, an abridged version of the novel might be much easier to digest. I'd give this one a high school age recommendation.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Varinder Randhawa

    This is my first review on goodreads. I came across this book when I googled for good emotional books to read. Les Miserables is the longest book I ever read. I read it in bits and pieces over a span of almost 6 months. This book was a tough read for me, partly because of the language used and mainly because the author has the tendency to go to extreme depths to introduce a character or to build up the plot. Examples of these depths are Battle of Waterloo, French Revolution, Parisian gamin, This is my first review on goodreads. I came across this book when I googled for good emotional books to read. Les Miserables is the longest book I ever read. I read it in bits and pieces over a span of almost 6 months. This book was a tough read for me, partly because of the language used and mainly because the author has the tendency to go to extreme depths to introduce a character or to build up the plot. Examples of these depths are Battle of Waterloo, French Revolution, Parisian gamin, French convents. Whenever I came across such a piece while reading the book it was hard to stay motivated to read the book till the end. Some parts of book are really moving especially portrayal of Cosette as a orphaned left at the mercy of the strangers by her mother or Fantine dying longing to see her daughter Cosette for one last time. The love story of Cosette and Marius is sweetly romantic. Hide and seek between the protagonist Jean Valjean and Inspector Javert are in a way thrilling and fun to read. The book is about selfless love and that it's very hard for you to escape your past.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    VH used so many words I have nothing to add... :) Other than a confession that about halfway through I started skimming the expository parts and it still took me 3 months to read this book! The translation I read was superb. I can see why this is a classic.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I read this book to get a basic understanding of the plot of les Mis before I see the musical. I found this quick and easy to read yet very informative and, I think, a good introduction to the musical.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tahsin

    It is devastating to think how relatable and applicable this book remains today. Even in this form, the voices of the characters and the pain in them didn't fail to touch me. I will definitely read the full length book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    The story is so good and the writing beautiful but his background stories are often incredibly boring

  11. 4 out of 5

    Netta De beer

    Watched the movie.....and simply had to read the book . Yes....a five star .

  12. 4 out of 5

    David Presper

    Book just dragged on and seemed to wander, to many story lines that never seemed to complete

  13. 4 out of 5

    game4brains

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Les Misérables: the name is a diamond among literary buffs. Commonly associated with the acclaimed 1980 opera, Les Misérables is Victor Hugo’s powerful gospel of French society. The novel chronicles the tale of Jean-Valjean, a former convict who embarks on an Odyssey of absolution in the years following his release from prison. He had been imprisoned for nineteen years: five for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children, and the additional fourteen years being the result Les Misérables: the name is a diamond among literary buffs. Commonly associated with the acclaimed 1980 opera, Les Misérables is Victor Hugo’s powerful gospel of French society. The novel chronicles the tale of Jean-Valjean, a former convict who embarks on an Odyssey of absolution in the years following his release from prison. He had been imprisoned for nineteen years: five for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister’s starving children, and the additional fourteen years being the result of numerous escape attempts. During his journey, Jean-Valjean is persistently hounded by the ruthless Inspector Javert, who seeks to throw Jean-Valjean back into jail, simply because of the French belief of “once a criminal, always a criminal.” Yet despite this, Jean-Valjean shines light onto a number of bystanders who were surrounded by the darkness of societal cruelty and the fervor of the June Rebellion, a reflection of Hugo’s own past as a liberalist advocate. Hugo’s masterpiece is rife with social commentary and harsh criticism of the French way. He perfectly contrasts both ends of French life when describing the life of the illegitimate mother Fantine. She is first introduced as “A brilliant face, delicate profile...a gaiety tempered with reverie, sculptured and exquisite” (Hugo 110), offering enough of an allusion to her life of luxury at the start of Book III. However, following the birth of her daughter, she is reintroduced in the succeeding Book as “poor and sad; she [has] the appearance of a working woman...she [is] pale, and look[s] very weary, and somewhat sick” (Hugo 128), greatly contrasting her golden age and revealing how hard she fell because of her single motherhood. By the end of her life, “she has endured all, borne all, experienced all, suffered all, lost all, wept for all” (Hugo 163), giving one final insight into the ultimate outcome of her poverty. By placing the law itself as the main antagonist--influencing the many hardships endured by several of the novel’s characters--Hugo not only able to throw light to the cruelty of the French justice system, but also manages to criticise French society in general. Despite such achievements, the novel is significantly impaired by its childish over-reliance on transgressions to tell the story. Such transgressions range from mildly plot-relevant tangents about other characters’ lives to flat-out rants about a man’s living arrangements; many of these segments are hardly necessary and could easily be trimmed down to a paragraph or even a sentence. Though such criticism seems like petty micromanagement, it is within proper reason: not only do these transgressions make it difficult for people trying to read a good story, but several of them also diverge from the main plot and make the novel unnecessarily long. Underneath the novel’s surface of transgressions and ramblings is a glistening core of brilliance. The way the story intertwines the lives of many different characters into one makes the tale seem far more realistic than most other novels, which focus solely on the life & times of a single character. Such a technique showcases how many people are involved in and impacted by a single man’s life, an aspect not usually considered by the average storywriter. Among the many strings of people that form this great web is the narrator, strongly implied to be Victor Hugo himself. As the narrator supervises and broods over the series of events surrounding Jean-Valjean’s journey of absolution, the reader can accurately bear witness to the tale alongside him. Les Misérables is an astounding social gospel that accurately criticizes French society. As a web of intertwining lives and an Odyssey of one man’s absolution, it is an absolute must-read for everyone: a true diamond among literature.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Realini

    Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Is there any book more famous than Les Miserables? Maybe dan Brown’s Inferno… And then many people know the name from the many adaptations based on the book. When I look some book up on the net, there is a tendency to find first the movie and only then the book. The other day it happened with Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I will not Was it last year that another production was nominated for many Academy Awards and even won a few? The story of Jean Valjean, Cosette, Marius Les Miserables by Victor Hugo Is there any book more famous than Les Miserables? Maybe dan Brown’s Inferno… And then many people know the name from the many adaptations based on the book. When I look some book up on the net, there is a tendency to find first the movie and only then the book. The other day it happened with Breakfast at Tiffany’s and I will not Was it last year that another production was nominated for many Academy Awards and even won a few? The story of Jean Valjean, Cosette, Marius and Javert is so powerful that we tend to remember these names and their story forever. In fact, I have read this book when I was a teenager; it impressed me in spite of the fact that I thought the start too slow. Another encounter with Valjean was in…London, oddly enough. At the time, some twenty years ago, I was working in the travel business and British Airways had invited someone from our agency to explore their new Club Class. Or was it some other name? Anyway, their generous free trip included the British Airways flight to London and back- obviously and a stay in a good hotel downtown. On top of that, we have been treated to a night’s performance of Les Miserables. The adaptation enjoyed a tremendous success maybe it is still does. I for one was not keen on the show for I did not go to London, Paris or Madrid on a regular basis, like the jet-set type who sees a concert in Geneva today and a play in Berlin after tomorrow. I would have rather roamed the streets more, than sit in a chair and listen to Valjean sing about his theft. This is when I had a rather cynical outlook of the play: - After all, Jean Valjean was a thief! Yes, the circumstances were awful and he had to steal in order to keep his family alive, but so do many of the people in jail. There are a number of fat cats in prison around the world, but my estimate is that more than 99% of those who do time have a reason, beyond greed. They lack education, means to survive, the IQ to understand what they’re doing, the genes and the social environment than lead them to a life of crime. That being said, the epic tale of Jean Valjean is compelling and meaningful. After he slipped and went to jail, he met his destiny in the bishop who saved his life and his soul. Afterwards, Jean Valjean becomes nothing but the epitome of the positive hero: saves people, even physically taking one from a wagon that was crushing him. He even saves the life of Javert, albeit the situation gets complicated and I will not say how, just in case there is a soul reading this, who has not been through Jean Valjean. I was lucky with the adaptation that I listened to these days. It was produced, directed by Orson Wells, who also played the role of Jean Valjean and read some of the explanations. And I am glad that I finish the year with the note on an excellent book, looking forward to ore of the kind in 2015. PS- I have discovered on goodreads that I have already written a note for Les Mis, on December 28th 2012. This is a second note and should be all right since it is for a new reading/listening, of a different adaptation

  15. 4 out of 5

    Katy Terberg

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is a book that is not for those who aren't willing to commit to a heady task. The unabridged version is not called "the Brick" without reason. However, if you're willing to set aside time to embark on this literary journey, I highly recommend this read. Jean Valjean is a bread thief who is finally released from prison after 19 years, most of his time amounting from multiple escape attempts. Inspector Javert is a very ambitious and very by-the-book policeman who reminds Valjean that, while he This is a book that is not for those who aren't willing to commit to a heady task. The unabridged version is not called "the Brick" without reason. However, if you're willing to set aside time to embark on this literary journey, I highly recommend this read. Jean Valjean is a bread thief who is finally released from prison after 19 years, most of his time amounting from multiple escape attempts. Inspector Javert is a very ambitious and very by-the-book policeman who reminds Valjean that, while he might be out of jail, his papers indicate that he is an ex-convict, and as such, he can never truly be a free man. When Valjean finds that this is true, all hope seems lost until a kind bishop takes pity on Valjean and gives him food and shelter. Valjean attempts to steal from the Bishop of Digne but, rather than turning Valjean in, the Bishop uses this moment to teach Valjean a lesson, and from that point on Valjean turns his life around. The latter half of the story is set against the backdrop of the June rebellion led by young revolutionaries whose goal was not individual victories, but rather to raise awareness of the corruption of the privledged few governing the many. These students, led by Enjolras, provided an example of the rapidly changing political times. Hugo was an idealist. He was optimistic that the 20th century would be a great one, and that poverty, hunger, greed, and corruption would be gone. As we know, these problems were far from over, but this book's messages of hope indicate the underlying hope amongst the multitude of fears. Original Broadway musical Javert, Terrence Mann, describes Les Mis as a story about "the triumph of the human spirit" and I couldn't agree more. It's a beautiful, hopeful tale of redemption, strength, kindness, love, and seeing people from more than one angle. The only true villain is circumstance. The heroes are those who are willing to fight for love, fight for revolution, fight for justice, fight for friendship, and ultimately fight for something bigger than themselves. Les Miserables is a timeless piece of literature and one of my absolute favorites. Every time I read it I feel a sense of elation. Though, as the title would indicate, the story can be incredibly depressing, with almost every title character dying, it is also incredibly empowering. I not only recommend this book, but I implore you to read it. Getting through a 1500+ page book may be daunting, but the results are more than worth the effort.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Camille McCarthy

    I really enjoyed this book. The writing was very clever and the story was engaging, even if the characters were a bit two-dimensional. Even though the story was serious it was also very humorous at times, I'm not sure if the author meant it to be like that but it made me laugh. The legal system seemed much too harsh in the early 1800's and it seems that the main point of the book was to judge people not by their past but by their present actions if they have atoned for their misdeeds of the I really enjoyed this book. The writing was very clever and the story was engaging, even if the characters were a bit two-dimensional. Even though the story was serious it was also very humorous at times, I'm not sure if the author meant it to be like that but it made me laugh. The legal system seemed much too harsh in the early 1800's and it seems that the main point of the book was to judge people not by their past but by their present actions if they have atoned for their misdeeds of the past. At the same point Jean Valjean really judges Marius just because he admires Cosette and that seemed just as bad as everyone treating him as if he is the devil just because he stole a loaf of bread twenty years before. Also I can't tell if he only went to the barricade because he thought Marius was already dead or if he really went to save Marius. Marius is afraid of Jean Valjean because he thinks he killed Javert, which is understandable since Jean Valjean never told him otherwise and wouldn't admit to having saved Marius's life. Valjean is a bit too "noble" in my opinion - what is the point of telling Javert who he is when Javert isn't even suspicious anymore and everyone thinks the criminal Jean Valjean is dead? He goes through all this trouble to hide his identity for years and then tells who he is to the one person who might care as soon as he sees him. It's one thing when someone else is going to get in trouble for things he has done, but it's another when no one is hurt by his identity not being known.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Griffiths

    Easily one of the best books ever written. Definitely a must read. You know that moment when everything in a really complicated plot suddenly makes sense? Or when something super crazy and unexplained happens in a story that changes everything so much that you have to stop reading and just stop and process it? This book has more than one of those (and I've never seen more than one in a story before). It's incredible. It's an amazing blend between fantastic story telling and profound thoughts on Easily one of the best books ever written. Definitely a must read. You know that moment when everything in a really complicated plot suddenly makes sense? Or when something super crazy and unexplained happens in a story that changes everything so much that you have to stop reading and just stop and process it? This book has more than one of those (and I've never seen more than one in a story before). It's incredible. It's an amazing blend between fantastic story telling and profound thoughts on life. For those who haven't read it, my recommendation is to try to read it during a period where you have absurd amounts of free time. Some good times could be in between semesters, while unemployed, or while traveling extensively. It's just such a large book. A lot of people say to read the abridged version, and although I understand where they're coming from, they're totally wrong. Part of what makes this book so good is just how comprehensive it is. It takes intensely powerful lessons from almost every stage of life and gives you all the depth and context you need to make them yours.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Samantha Adrian

    I read it on the recommendation of a high school teacher for a project and never looked back. I honestly didn't expect to like it. But the STORY. The CHARACTERS. Oh my god. It's just such a good portrayal of what happened. Not going to lie, it was heavy and hard to get through. I actually read an abridged version and it was still rather heavy. It's a monster of a book. But it also takes your soul and rips it into little itty bitty bit size pieces and then chews them up and feeds them to the poor I read it on the recommendation of a high school teacher for a project and never looked back. I honestly didn't expect to like it. But the STORY. The CHARACTERS. Oh my god. It's just such a good portrayal of what happened. Not going to lie, it was heavy and hard to get through. I actually read an abridged version and it was still rather heavy. It's a monster of a book. But it also takes your soul and rips it into little itty bitty bit size pieces and then chews them up and feeds them to the poor of Paris. After I read the book I found out there was a musical. And then I sobbed. I sobbed the whole way through a recording of the twenty fifth anniversary show, and even valiantly resisted the urge to throw something whenever Nick Jonas sang. (Not that he doesn't have a nice voice but it was very clearly ill-suited to the genre, and stuck out like a sore thumb. Still sobbed like a baby.) Just, if you ever have some time on your hands and wan't to simultaneously loose and regain faith in humanity, read it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deb

    I will continue to read Victor Hugo; I feel like a connect to his ideals and sympathies. I appreciate the historical perspective, and I love the characters, their moral dilemmas, they way that they move through their experiences/adventures/heartaches/tragedies. I plan to re-read significant (to me) issues when I am not in the excitement of the story. For example, Hugo's thoughts about the effect of abject poverty/the bottom of society on children who are never supported, and that situation which I will continue to read Victor Hugo; I feel like a connect to his ideals and sympathies. I appreciate the historical perspective, and I love the characters, their moral dilemmas, they way that they move through their experiences/adventures/heartaches/tragedies. I plan to re-read significant (to me) issues when I am not in the excitement of the story. For example, Hugo's thoughts about the effect of abject poverty/the bottom of society on children who are never supported, and that situation which can change a human being. Truly thoughtful... but more important, puts into words the thoughts that I mull around quite often. I skimmed a lot of this book...really, 50 pages on the details of the Waterloo battle, and the cloister convent, ++ unbelievably tedious for me. But, I loved the story and the philosophy presented while interwoven with lives that I really believed and cared about.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Twal

    I finished it minutes ago ! Can't deny its an amazing classic by victor hugo .. The sophistication of events makes u fall further more into the novel At the outset ,injustice was the only hero and its clearly seen through out the novel and what happened with fantine and cosette makes u think how pathetic their lives were that it couldn't be worse. " That is how God balances things out.He watches us all from above and knows what he is doing among his splendid stars." This quote struck me as I I finished it minutes ago ! Can't deny its an amazing classic by victor hugo .. The sophistication of events makes u fall further more into the novel At the outset ,injustice was the only hero and its clearly seen through out the novel and what happened with fantine and cosette makes u think how pathetic their lives were that it couldn't be worse. " That is how God balances things out.He watches us all from above and knows what he is doing among his splendid stars." This quote struck me as I read the final page and I couldn't stop thinking about the meaning behind it .As jean said this quote at the end I understood the justice that came later in the novel that fantine was as rich in sorrow as cosette was in happiness ..this is mother's love ! I can say that this book will be my favorite book of all time ! Hope to read another masterpiece for victor hugo very soon

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sara Uzaizat

    I finished it minutes ago ! Can't deny its an amazing classic by victor hugo .. The sophistication of events makes u fall further more into the novel At the outset ,injustice was the only hero and its clearly seen through out the novel and what happened with fantine and cosette makes u think how pathetic their lives were that it couldn't be worse. " That is how God balances things out.He watches us all from above and knows what he is doing among his splendid stars." This quote struck me as I read I finished it minutes ago ! Can't deny its an amazing classic by victor hugo .. The sophistication of events makes u fall further more into the novel At the outset ,injustice was the only hero and its clearly seen through out the novel and what happened with fantine and cosette makes u think how pathetic their lives were that it couldn't be worse. " That is how God balances things out.He watches us all from above and knows what he is doing among his splendid stars." This quote struck me as I read the final page and I couldn't stop thinking about the meaning behind it .As jean said this quote at the end I understood the justice that came later in the novel that fantine was as rich in sorrow as cosette was in happiness ..this is mother's love ! I can say that this book will be my favorite book of all time ! Hope to read another masterpiece for victor hugo very soon

  22. 5 out of 5

    Natalia Lindquist

    Les Miserables is one of my all-time favorite books and operettas about a poor man named Jean Valjean, a poor man who steals bread and is sent to prison. He escapes prison which angers the police man, Javert who spends his whole life looking for him. Jean Valjean meets a priest who gives him candlesticks to start a new life. As a new man, Jean Valjean becomes mayor and changes his entire lifestyle and what kind of person he wants to be. He takes in a young girl named Cossette from her dying Les Miserables is one of my all-time favorite books and operettas about a poor man named Jean Valjean, a poor man who steals bread and is sent to prison. He escapes prison which angers the police man, Javert who spends his whole life looking for him. Jean Valjean meets a priest who gives him candlesticks to start a new life. As a new man, Jean Valjean becomes mayor and changes his entire lifestyle and what kind of person he wants to be. He takes in a young girl named Cossette from her dying mother Fantine and raises her. Javert spends his whole life looking for him but eventually catches him and lets him go. This book is one of the most wonderful stories about forgiveness and that people really can change. We often see the bad in people but this masterpiece exemplifies the good in people. Hugo, V., & Wilbour, C. (1992). Les Misérables (Modern Library ed.). New York: Modern Library.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4-1/2 stars Awwww man! Valjean begrudgingly saved Marius's life because of moral obligation and not out of love for Cosette and the desire for her happiness?! That was really disheartening, as I had believed (from seeing the film and play before reading the book) that he had done it out of love. Still an amazing book but I gotta knock it a 1/2-star because of my crushing disappointment. This is one of the only times I will ever say that the movie (starring Hugh Jackman) was as good as the book. 4-1/2 stars Awwww man! Valjean begrudgingly saved Marius's life because of moral obligation and not out of love for Cosette and the desire for her happiness?! That was really disheartening, as I had believed (from seeing the film and play before reading the book) that he had done it out of love. Still an amazing book but I gotta knock it a 1/2-star because of my crushing disappointment. This is one of the only times I will ever say that the movie (starring Hugh Jackman) was as good as the book. If you haven't seen it, my advice to you is that you seriously consider having a bucket handy for all of your tears. My review of the movie is free and my gift to you fine people. Then again, so is my review of the book. Whatever.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Pam

    I think I would give this book four and a half stars simply because of the long narratives about the Battle of Waterloo, the sewers of Paris, etc., but the author's language (even translated) is amazing. I was trying to finish the book by September 23 for a book club meeting, but didn't quite make it. (It took 3 or 4 months, I don't remember exactly how long, and I skimmed through a lot of the aforementioned long narratives.) After having seen the Liam Neeson movie and the musical movie, I I think I would give this book four and a half stars simply because of the long narratives about the Battle of Waterloo, the sewers of Paris, etc., but the author's language (even translated) is amazing. I was trying to finish the book by September 23 for a book club meeting, but didn't quite make it. (It took 3 or 4 months, I don't remember exactly how long, and I skimmed through a lot of the aforementioned long narratives.) After having seen the Liam Neeson movie and the musical movie, I enjoyed reading the book and having the story and the characters fleshed out more. The way the pieces of the story fit together was well-crafted. I was a little disappointed in the ending, although it was beautifully written. Overall, a great piece of literature.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Molly Leverenz

    Reader Response: I had a hard time understanding this book. However, because I read it in English class we were able to discuss it better. It was a hard read for me but some parts were better than others. At first I wasn’t sure why he was jumping from character to character but then I understood once I got to the end of the book. I think it is a sad book, so not my favorite of all time, but still good content. Teacher Response: Personally I think this is a trickery book to teach because it is Reader Response: I had a hard time understanding this book. However, because I read it in English class we were able to discuss it better. It was a hard read for me but some parts were better than others. At first I wasn’t sure why he was jumping from character to character but then I understood once I got to the end of the book. I think it is a sad book, so not my favorite of all time, but still good content. Teacher Response: Personally I think this is a trickery book to teach because it is considered a “disturbing” book. It isn’t happy. However, as a teacher you have to introduce you students to a range of different text. This book, if read, needs to be read in a classroom. I say this because students need to be able to have discussions and ask the questions they have.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Fernando Franco felix

    The plot is very good, and the writing is excellent, but I did not like it because Victor Hugo couldn't shut up. He went on and on about stupid things. For example he once makes a four pages description of cart, and he goes on saying that Shakespeare would have armed with it one character and that Homer another. And lets not forget the part of the battle of Waterloo, that I liked a lot, but tat had nothing to do with the plot. Had he took those pages and published them as another text I would The plot is very good, and the writing is excellent, but I did not like it because Victor Hugo couldn't shut up. He went on and on about stupid things. For example he once makes a four pages description of cart, and he goes on saying that Shakespeare would have armed with it one character and that Homer another. And lets not forget the part of the battle of Waterloo, that I liked a lot, but tat had nothing to do with the plot. Had he took those pages and published them as another text I would love it, but he didn't. Victor Hugo could have been a great writer if anyone would had had the courage to tell him that he had potenciall but that he needed to improve a lot

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chloe

    I did a bad thing and saw the movie before I read the book, however it was interesting to see how they compare and as far as the main points of the book go they did well to cram it all into the movie! Anyway.. There were a few parts that seemed a chore to get through (and perhaps irrelevant to the rest of the story!), but it doesn't take away from the brilliant characters. I loved reading the backstory of the characters and how they connect with each other and once I got to the last half of the I did a bad thing and saw the movie before I read the book, however it was interesting to see how they compare and as far as the main points of the book go they did well to cram it all into the movie! Anyway.. There were a few parts that seemed a chore to get through (and perhaps irrelevant to the rest of the story!), but it doesn't take away from the brilliant characters. I loved reading the backstory of the characters and how they connect with each other and once I got to the last half of the book I couldn't put it down. I actually cried reading the last few chapters! What a wuss. “Laughter is sunshine, it chases winter from the human face.”

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Just once in my life I wanted to read the WHOLE thing. It took me months, but I did it! I adored Jean Valjean (and agreed with him about Marius--he was kind of a ninny)and hated the Thenardiers (the were delectably wicked, though). Ironically, if I hadn't have read the whole thing, I might have given it 5 stars instead of 4. I didn't see the point of the long, explanatory chapters. Way too much about the battle of Waterloo, for example, that wasn't at all relevant to the story. And there were Just once in my life I wanted to read the WHOLE thing. It took me months, but I did it! I adored Jean Valjean (and agreed with him about Marius--he was kind of a ninny)and hated the Thenardiers (the were delectably wicked, though). Ironically, if I hadn't have read the whole thing, I might have given it 5 stars instead of 4. I didn't see the point of the long, explanatory chapters. Way too much about the battle of Waterloo, for example, that wasn't at all relevant to the story. And there were some descriptive chapters I just didn't get because they pertained to customs and personalities of the setting that were unfamiliar to me.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amelia

    OMG this book isn't for the faint hearted, after seeing the musical and watching the film(I no I shouldn't watch the film before reading the book I'm sorry) I knew I was ready for the sad and the very sad parts, but few! I had finally finished the over 1200 worded book. Yes it is a big number but I assure you... The pages will fly through your fingertips. Victor Hugo really captures the trauma and misery of the French revalution, the type I read had a translation at the bottom of the pages to OMG this book isn't for the faint hearted, after seeing the musical and watching the film(I no I shouldn't watch the film before reading the book I'm sorry) I knew I was ready for the sad and the very sad parts, but few! I had finally finished the over 1200 worded book. Yes it is a big number but I assure you... The pages will fly through your fingertips. Victor Hugo really captures the trauma and misery of the French revalution, the type I read had a translation at the bottom of the pages to help with the French part but personally I think the sad thing is that Mousier and Madame Thénarder wasn't in the story that much and also are not as funny as the musical/film

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Sievers

    I was extremely surprised at how quickly I fell in love with this book. The language is amazing and very easy to understand. The only times I felt lost were when the author went deep into french war history, which luckily only happened a couple times. I never wanted to put it down and basically didn't on vacation (I read 1300 pages in 5 days). I knew I loved the story of Les Mis from the movie, but you don't get to experience the full measure of jean valjeans character without reading the book. I was extremely surprised at how quickly I fell in love with this book. The language is amazing and very easy to understand. The only times I felt lost were when the author went deep into french war history, which luckily only happened a couple times. I never wanted to put it down and basically didn't on vacation (I read 1300 pages in 5 days). I knew I loved the story of Les Mis from the movie, but you don't get to experience the full measure of jean valjeans character without reading the book. They definitely couldn't fit a 1500 page book into a movie or I'm assuming a play. Definitely one of my favorites now.

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