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)?