Industrial Deals HPC Best Books of the Year Holiday Dress Guide nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc For a limited time. 3 months for $0.99. Amazon Music Unlimited. New subscribers only. Terms and conditions apply. Electronics Gift Guide Limited time offer Try it first with samples Handmade Gift Shop Holiday Home Gift Guide Book a house cleaner for 2 or more hours on Amazon TNF TNF TNF  Echo Devices starting at $29.99 Save $30 on All-New Fire HD 8. Limited-time offer. $20 off Kindle Paperwhite GNO Shop Now HTL17_gno

Customer Review

on October 4, 2005
Finished reading this book about two weeks ago - but the effect that this book had on me, was so profound that I could not bring myself to write anything on the book, lest I might say something to demean the masterpiece! For, when was the last time you saw a critical review of the Mona Lisa, or where have you ever heard someone describing the faults of the Taj Mahal!?!

The story chronicles the life and times of Jean Valjean, a homeless, faithless, escaped convict, as he runs across the landscape of France of the 19th-century, at the time of the French Revolution. The two central themes that dominate the novel are the moral redemption of Jean Valjean, and the moral redemption of a Nation through Revolution. Victor Hugo is quoted to have said: "I condemn slavery, I banish poverty, I teach ignorance, I treat disease, I lighten the night, and I hate hatred. That is what I am, and that is why I have written Les Miserables."

Overall, the novel is a critical statement against human suffering, poverty, and ignorance, its purpose being as much political as it is artistic!

Coming back, then, Jean Valjean is running across France, because he is being hunted down by a meticulous, conscientious, but unmerciful police office Inspector Javert, to whom Valjean represents all that is despicable, abominable and vile in the French society at that time. The pursuit is relentless, and forms the background of the whole of the 1400-odd pages of this unabridged version of the story (available from Signet Classics).

Though the adventures that Valjean has, the chances that he gets to go back to treachery and villainy, after being given a chance at nobility, are not so easy to identify with always, but they have that ring of authenticity, that makes a work like this withstand the test of time! The story goes from place to place, always following the exploits of Valjean, though the digressions of Victor Hugo (would you believe he has written full 100-page chapters each on the Parisian sewerage system, the crime underworld existing at that time, a witness-account of the Battle of Waterloo, an obscure convent in the heart of Paris... the list, I'm afraid is too long to mention here in full! But hey, it is much more delightful to read all those detours as Hugo intended the reader to...) at times make quite a read by themselves, having not much to contribute directly to the story, except perhaps setting the context!

The French word "miserables" means both poor wretches and scoundrels or villains. The novel offers a huge cast that includes both kinds of "miserables" ...... the brave & diligent yet pathetic Fantine, the beautiful yet sad Cosette, the contemptible rogue Thenardier, the perfectionist & cruel Javert, the mercurial yet diffident and reticent Marius, the wretchedly pitiful Eponine, the exceptionally heroic Enjolras, the ebullient & fearlessly valiant Gavroche, the ......wait a minute, I am going the way of Victor Hugo, for that is what the story is like all through, no dearth of adjectives! Even when two words would have done, Hugo strives to (and I must add, quite admirably achieves to - ) give you the full rainbow of the description!

The book makes you smile, makes you laugh out, overawes you to wonder, makes you cringe in horror, causes you to weep bitterly, yet teaches you to never lose hope! Though some of the modernist readers might find the novel too romantic for their taste, even they cannot refute the strength of the convictions that the characters are shown to successfully carry! All in all, it is one of those books that reach out to you, and teach you life, as it once was, as it now is, and as it should (or is it could?) be in the future... it comes as close to life as any other book I have ever read. Probably irreproachable, in terms of sheer effect that the book has on the reader, it is a must read, independent of age! Anyone who has not read it, do yourself a favor, get a life - read this book!
0Comment| 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse| Permalink
What's this?

What are product links?

In the text of your review, you can link directly to any product offered on To insert a product link, follow these steps:
1. Find the product you want to reference on
2. Copy the web address of the product
3. Click Insert product link
4. Paste the web address in the box
5. Click Select
6. Selecting the item displayed will insert text that looks like this: [[ASIN:014312854XHamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)]]
7. When your review is displayed on, this text will be transformed into a hyperlink, like so:Hamlet (The Pelican Shakespeare)

You are limited to 10 product links in your review, and your link text may not be longer than 256 characters.