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The Romances of Victor Hugo: Les Miserables, Volume II Paperback – August 30, 2010
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Most of the reviews shown for this book are NOT for this book. They are for other versions that are full, unabridged versions.
This really is FRAUD.
This one focuses on themes of revolution, poverty, classism, and injustice. But the story is not just about the French Revolution.
Hugo builds some very lovable and very hateable characters. Jean Val Jean has a rare dignity and integrity that perseveres through all his many misfortunes.
The protagonists are also well-illustrated. Javert struggles when his firm belief in order contrasts with realities, and the resulting cognitive dissonance is not often so well portrayed.
Les Mis is so full of weaving plot twists and coincidences that made me gasp in surprise. I really got attached to the characters, and had a hard time when bad things happened to them.
I read an abridged edition published in 1954, and I'm glad of that. I have read other unabridged works by Hugo, and he has some outdated ramblings about architecture and other political allegories that are interesting but could be summed up in 2-3 paragraphs. They got paid by the word for novels back then, so some of it may have been padding. :) The version I read did a good job of making it shorter and keeping the plot lines firmly intact.
While the movies and musical are also very good, they do cut out much of the plot, so the book is worth reading.