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Book Review: Les Misérables

Introducing one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean – the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread – Les Misérables (1862) ranks among the greatest novel of all time. In it Victor Hugo takes readers deep into the Parisian underworld, immerses them into a battle between good and evil, and carries them onto the barricades during the uprising of 1832 with a breathtaking realism that is unsurpassed in modern prose. Within his dramatic story are themes that capture the intellect and the emotions: crime and punishment, the relentless persecution of Valjean by Inspector Javert, the desperation of the prostitute Fantine, the amorality of the rogue Thénardier and the universal desire to escape the prisons of our own minds. Les Misérables gave Victor Hugo a canvas upon which he portrayed his criticism of the French political and judicial systems, but the portrait which resulted is larger than life, epic in scope – an extravagant spectacle that dazzles the senses even as it touches the heart.

If you want a good book to read, then why not start with Victor Hugo’s classic, Les Miserables. You can never go wrong with a good classic. An important rule when reading classics, is to always read the unabridged version! The full story is always better than the short version. I never understood why publishers would want to print abridged version of any book. It is never the same.

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (Published by Signett Classics) is a must read! The best translated version of this book is by Signet Classics. Unless you live in America, the Signet Classics version can be hard to find. The best possible deal you could acquire is from The Book Depository.

However, I will warn you now that this book is not for the faint-hearted. This is a very long book, consisting of about 1500 pages. This is also the longest book that I have ever read. There are many characters in this novel, and they all tell their own unique story. Personally, my favourite character is Fantine. A tragic character who appears in the first part of the book.

If you’re interested in reading this book, I would also consider visiting the musical adaptation in the West End or in Broadway. It is one of the best musical shows at the moment. The cast and music are amazing. I had goosebumps literally all the way through the show. It is definitely worth every penny.

A must read, no matter how long it takes you!



  1. Pingback: Le Panthéon: The Grateful Homeland | La Plume Noire

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