book review

Let’s Talk About… Les Misérables

Recently, I finally finished Les Misérables, which is probably one of the longest books that I have ever read. I think it took me at least a year and a half to get through? I ended up really liking it, especially the second half of the book. So, I figured I’d share a few thoughts about it.


Firstly, if you’re a fan of the musical you’ll enjoy it. Reading the book added so much more depth to the characters, and I actually really like Marius and Cosette together. (The book gives them a bit more than one evening to fall in love, although it is still a little guilty of instalove). I now understand the characters motivation so much more, and I’m tempted to rewatch the musical!

Not only has reading Les Misérables taught me more about its characters, but it has also taught me more about France. Specifically, 19th century France. There are chapters on Waterloo, on the sewer systems, on revolutions, on argot. That last one is like Cockney slang but in French, as far as I can gather. Although sometimes the amount of information I was given was a bit overwhelming.


 As I’ve already mention, I really felt like I got to know the characters. I understood the struggles of Jean Valjean, of Javert, of Marius. I got to discover more of Eponine’s life outside of Marius, and I got to spend even more time with the insane Thenardiers. It was fascinating seeing what drove each of the characters, and seeing how they interacted with each other.

Also, it was sometimes really gripping. The whole barricade sequence was so stressful, especially because I already knew the outcome. The friendships in the ABC gang were a delight to read about, particularly the friendship of Enjolras and Grantaire. Can you tell that, for me, this book was all about the characters?


Those were just a few thoughts on the fantastic novel that is Les Misérables. I think stopping there is probably a good idea, otherwise this post might just turn into an essay! I’d definitely recommend reading the book, especially if you’re a fan of the musical. Warning: the soundtrack will start playing in your head every time you pick up this book.

Have you read Les Misérables? How long did it take you? Who’s your favourite character? Are you a fan of the musical? Do you plan on reading the book (if you haven’t already)?


11 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About… Les Misérables

    1. My copy is split in two so it’s more like reading two different books – that definitely made it a little less intimidating. 🙂 I hope you get to read it at some point!

  1. I’ve not yet read the books—though I have both volumes on my shelf—but I’ve seen the film, which was amazing, and I’m seeing the musical in September. I think, once I have, I’ll give the books a shot. I suppose their size is slightly daunting, but I hope it’ll be worth it!

    1. It’s definitely worth reading! But yeah, you should see the musical first, it’s fantastic. 🙂

  2. I read the book a few years ago and it’s now one of my favorites! I also love the musical. It blows my mind how Hugo could write something that intricate and amazing!

    1. It’s such an impressive book! I just wonder who read and thought “this should totally be a musical!” It’s definitely not the first thought I had ☺

      1. I am glad someone came up with the idea of turning it into a musical. The book is perfect source for a musical. Musicals are known for being emotional. Combine the wonderful characters and storylines from the book and combine them with incredible and transforming music, it makes his storyline even more powerful

  3. I read the unabridged summer of 2016 and it took me less then one summer. The musical lead me to read this mammoth book. Reading the book gave me a bigger appreciation of the musical. In fact, using my strong knowledge of the musical helped me understand the book and was what allowed me to not skip anything. I was able to underline major characters and write in song names.

    Les Miserables is truly one of the most inspirational and powerful pieces of literature

    1. I was definitely glad that I’d seen the musical before reading the book. It definitely helped with keeping track of who was who and what exactly was going on! And I totally agree about it making me appreciate the book more – because I knew the plot already, I felt like I gained so much more from the book.

      1. One mistake, I read the book in 2015. I think it was so wonderful that I read the unabridged the same summer I saw the musical in the West End. The book actually makes you understand why you feel the emotions so deeply and so powerful. Les Mis changed everything I know about musicals. Victor Hugo wrote this inspirational, epic, and powerful book for the soul and when you combine that with the brilliant, powerful, and emotional music, it makes his story truly come to life.

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