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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2013
I read Les Miserables de Victor Hugo many, many years ago; the movie made recently which was given great reviews, has given me the wish to read it again. It will remain a classic in every sense of the word; it is beautifully written. However, one has to be patient, and simply enjoy what each chapter is about. Very long with descriptions of all sorts, so that the story develops in a very slow manner.I am glad I read it again; being more mature now, i can appreciate it for what it is : a masterpiece !
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2013
This a really great book about social and political life in 19th-century France. I would not dare to compare Hugo with Dickens, but somehow that idea might creep into the mind of the reader. The story is poignant, dramatic, raising some important ethical and universal questions on human development and societal justice. Hugo's talent is undeniable, although his narrative may be classified as a bit historically slanted, allegedly. The English version is worth applauding indeed, as it reveals the challenges of interpreting from French; whereas both languages boast their long history, a lot in common in terms of Latin origin, notwithstanding their own unique development and evolvement. For a linguistic researcher, such parallels need noting.
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on January 29, 2014
An excellent book with far more background than one receives from the movie or stage versions. Particularly enjoyed the added explanations of the main characters and their stories (esp the kind humble Bishop) and learned much more about the Battle of Waterloo than I'd ever known about this historical event.

Main drawbacks were that, since it is written in the 1860's the author references a lot of then contemporary people, places, events, politics, terminology, mythology, etc. that often mean nothing too me in 2014. Sort of a double vision effect too since I'm in 2014 reading a book written in 1860's that is looking back to the time periods from late 1700's to 1830's. Also he tends to go into laborious detail at times on certain aspects that seem obscure and unrelated to the main flow of events and characters (perhaps just my bias to more fast action movies). Some untranslated songs/poems (left in French) would have benefited from side-by-side English translation too -- my knowledge of French isn't very good.

All in all though an excellent and highly recommended read, especially for those who enjoyed the movie and stage versions.
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Les Miserables has a message which is as vital to the 21st Century world as it was to 19th Century France. "Les Miserables" refers to the outcasts of society. The poor, demonised in the media as scroungers and ne'er-do-wells.

The central character, Jean Valjean, is imprisoned for five years for stealing a loaf of bread, then another 14 for trying to escape (not an exaggeration of the penal code of the period). On release he is condemned to carry a yellow passport - an ID card which is as effective as a brand. Even outside the prison he is not free.

A priest seeks to redeem him with an act of kindness and (without retelling the whole story) the narrative rests on the consequences of that act of kindness.

Perhaps the most shocking aspect of the original story is the casting of a policeman, a perfectly respectable upholder of the law with no sympathy for the poor, as a villain. We are accustomed to seeing "crooked cops" but Javert isn't crooked; he is as straight as he can be according to his lights. He simply enforces an unjust law because it is not his place to change it.

The most powerful scenes involve the street fighting in Paris during the 1830 revolution and the idealism of students and young people who are depicted as simply and selflessly fighting for the poor of their own city.

It is worth comparing the revolutionaries in Les Miserables with those other revolutionaries in a 19th Century novel - the bloodstained monsters depicted in Dickens' "A Tale of Two Cities." Although the revolution of 1830 was defeated, Victor Hugo sees the revolutionaries as human beings and evokes sympathy for the cause for which they are fighting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2013
This is a must read. It's very long which I don't usually get into but you get so absorbed into the characters so deeply that you can never forget them. This is going to be an all time classic for centuries to come. It's one of those books that makes you feel proud that you finished reading it. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a memorable book to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2013
I am really enjoying reading this book. Lots more background information on all the characters really helps you to understand them. Still reading - its a big book!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 26, 2013
This is one of the free classics available on Amazon.ca. It's so easy to have books delivered to my Kindle and I'm glad the Canadian site now sells Kindle books.
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on January 24, 2013
With the new release of Les Miserables, many people are rethinking this remarkable story of redemption and forgiveness. I loved the movie, but it pales compared to the depth of the actual book. It even inspired me to write a book review for a local newspaper.

Ed Hird+
[...]
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on November 1, 2013
It's a long read, but it's definitely worth it. Victor Hugo is an amazing author. Characters are very realistic and the plot is great. Some of the more historical focused parts do tend to get a little boring, but the rest of the novel makes up for that. Definitely a great read.
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on April 19, 2013
This book, although very well written, one must be very literate and patient when reading this book. It is of a language that is not used as much any more although maybe we should.
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