Tag Archives: Les Misérables

Review: Les Misérables

https://i0.wp.com/d.gr-assets.com/books/1327702573l/24280.jpgLes Misérables by Victor Hugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Source: Own a copy – Get your own copy from The Book Depository

It feels as though it’s such an accomplishment to have read Les Misérables. It is a very big book which I have had for about 14 years but never read. I tried once but only got as far as 20 pages or so, embarrassingly, and I have to admit, even this time, the reading was not free of struggles. With the 5 volumes, I enjoyed the first and last volumes whilst the middle 3 not as much.

The first volume opens with the introduction of a most sincere godly man, Monsieur Myriel. His background was a bit scratchy but the fact is that he is a man of God who continuously strives to obey God’s will in every aspects of life even when it makes his life uncomfortable. Whilst he is made out to be such a saint, we do get to see some inner struggles though not as many as others would have.

Jean Valjean’s encounter with Monsieur Myriel is the key to Valjean’s salvation. Valjean was released on parole and was unwelcome to wherever he went. To him, was not given the treatment of equal. M. Myriel, however, welcomes him as he would anybody else. A further act of kindness from M. Myriel made him that bright shining light on an ever darkening life to Valjean. It became a standard which he clung onto for the rest of his life, striving to always be deserving of that burning brightness by responding in kind to those who in need.

Javert, on the other hand, whilst sharing as similar poor background with Valjean, had carved himself a career as a police inspector. He is very rigid in his views of the Law, everything is black or white and nothing else in between. He became obsessed with the capture of Valjean and like a dog that has caught a whiff of his prey, he will not give up. Hence, is Valjean’s arch nemesis and a perfect foil. By the end of the book and after we have witnessed Javert and Valjean’s final encounter, Javert’s thought and actions made me wonder if Javert has ever experienced kindness in his life?

Les Misérables is not about the love story between Marius and Cosette at all. In fact, I was slightly deflated to find that I did not like either characters and therefore, could not appreciate their ‘love’. If anything, they and their love painfully highlighted Valjean’s love and sacrifice. His salvation was ensured by his last act of sacrifice.

As I said above, this is a very big book (1,463 pages) but the above pretty much summarised the Big Main Point of the book for me. There are, of course, many other little points but the above is THE most important bit as it was shown through Valjean just how one merciful act, one kindness to those whom we do not think deserves it is the most worthiest recipient as they will spend their whole lives paying it forward even sacrificing themselves for other’s happiness.

Thank you all who have accompanied me through the Read Along -appreciate your support 😉

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Read Along: Les Misérables -Volume 5: Jean Valjean

**SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**     **SPOILERS ALERT**

Whoopee!!  Yipee!!  Horray!!  It is done!  It is finished!

The best volume in the whole novel, I believe.  Or at least, one that entertained me most.  The suspense of the barricade, Valjean’s roller coaster mood, and of course, it is when all converged into one glorious ending.

There were a couple of tangential thoughts but not as many as the previous volumes nor as ponderous.  The history of Parisian sewerage, whilst not to my taste, was interesting to note.

Marius, unable to secure his grandfather’s assistance for marriage, could not find Cosette.  She has gone away and life means nothing to him now.  He looks to his death at the barricade.  However, Fate conspires to prevent his death.  Firstly through Eponine (what a heroine!) then Valjean (with Titanian strength and courage).  Marius is definitely a product of the period so whilst I understood the reasoning behind his thoughts, that did not help me in liking him one little bit.  This was mostly due to his cold attitude towards Valjean after his confession.  I kept thinking of the good bishop (M.Myriel) and why Marius can’t be a little like him after all Valjean has done (even in secret) – is he blind as well as dense?!?! (okay, I admit being a little insensible with anger)

I found that I utterly dislike Cosette.  So she’s young (19).  So she’s led a very very sheltered life.  So both Marius and Valjean and everybody thinks she’s an angel.  From the little I’ve read (there really wasn’t much of her), she’s a silly little wench -superficial, easily distracted, timid, unthinking, etc (I think I had better stop now).

Valjean was heart broken to find out that Cosette’s heart no longer belongs to him only.  She loves another with the passion of a woman.  Despite his heartbreak, he wants only one thing: for Cosette to be happy.  With all the strength he has left, he made it all happen: rescued Marius from the barricade, arranged for the couple to marry (without any possible blemish to be found on the security of this institution), and ensuring the future financially.  His sacrifice was complete – he gave his all for the light of his life to continue to shine.

Javert  excites my pity, Thénardier makes me huffed with exasperation and I can only shake my head at the antics of M. Gillenormand.  Despite my disliking Marius and Cosette, Valjean’s light shone ever so brightly.  A beginning full of suspense and action, a middle thick with disappointment and angst, completed with an ending to beautifully crafted -everything packaged neatly into an un-labelled box.