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Les Misérables (English language) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
It is an incredible story of temptations, redemptions, evil, love; it describes how miserable
life in that era of France was for the common people.
A story about real life, with fictional characters creating real people, and the social perspective is as true today as it was in the past.
Most recent customer reviews
The best Fiction I have ever read. It has taken me years to realize how the transformation of Jean val Jean took place, but on this second reading it became clear.Published 10 months ago by Jeanne Wudrick
A ponderous story rife with unnecessary lengthy descriptions which, if skipped, make the story tolerable. Forget the book - watch the movie.Published 21 months ago by Brynecho
Extremely long winded, have not yet found time to read much of this book!Published on July 10 2014 by Amazon Customer