Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

A big book, renowned the world over in the format of stage show and film. Obviously it is in French so I have read a translation.

I don’t normally persist in reading a book that is poorly written, time is short and there are so many more books that deserve attention. Les Miserables is poorly written, no that doesn’t do justice to the other books I have read, Les Miserables is a dreadful book. There is a story within it, and I assume that the film and stage versions have extracted that meagre story from the mire that comprises most of the book.

At first I didn’t know how bad it was, it seemed to drift and there were pages of trivia, the first 100 pages are devoted to the life of a character who plays a minimal part. Why waste all that time? There is a long essay on the Battle of Waterloo just to place a single action on another character. So, boring. Hugo takes every opportunity to waffle and give his opinion. I cared for neither. Fifty pages on the sewers of Paris so the hero can make his escape through them. Madness. I don’t mind things being put into a historical context but this is taking things to an extreme.

I did read the book to the end, but after about two-thirds I was able to recognise the waffle and rubbish and speed read those sections. I did it so I can say I have read the whole…so that I know the truth about this book…it is awful.

As I said there is a small tale woven into this tripe. I guess that it would make a nice short story and I can see that the film and stage people would love it. It’s not really my sort of story though. A sort of love story wrapped around a tale of pathos, or was it a tale of redemption? I didn’t care by the end.

To be honest I have the greatest admiration of the person who discovered the story…it was only the renown of Les Miserables that made me carry on. What drove the early readers to complete it I could not guess. I shan’t be reading this book again, nor has it encouraged me to want to see it at the cinema or theatre.


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