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Les Miserables

Les Misérables - Victor Hugo, James K. Robinson, Charles E. Wilbour Might as well get the length out of the way. "Les Miserables", the unabridged version, is longer than either "War and Peace" or "Anna Karenina"; and both of Tolstoy's classics took me about two months to get through as did Les Miserables. The narrative gets 5-Stars. It is because of the interludes (or is the narrative the interlude? I'm not really sure.) that I give "Les Miserables" four stars (and, frankly, who am I to give this only four out of five stars 150 years after it was published and hailed, even by Tolstoy, as the greatest novel ever written?)Back to the review. Everyone knows the narrative - basically a good guy steals a loaf of bread and is hounded the rest of his life by a cop. There is no Statute of Limitation in France in the first half of the 19th Century.The novel takes place between Waterloo (June 18th 1815) and the 1832/33 Paris Revolt/Insurrection/Riot. If you like Dickens then you will enjoy this narrative too. You may even want read/re-read "A Tale of Two Cities" before just to get you in the right frame of mind.Below is a brief outline of the 'books' making up "Les Miserables":>>Pre-Interlude - Up to 1815. Story of a Priest/Cure' who becomes a Bishop upon returning to France from Italy (he and his sister fled France because of the Revolution of 1793) during the Empire.>>Narrative - Jean Valjean's Story/Fantine's Story>>Interlude #1 - Battle of Waterloo>>Jean Valjean and Cosette>>Interlude #2 - On Monks, Nuns, Convents and Cloisters>>Narrative - Marius>>Interlude #3 - Paris and "Gamins">>Narrative - Marius & Cosette 1>>Interlude #4 - Slang>>Narrative - Marius and Cosette 2>>Interlude - #5 - Revolutions, Insurrections, Riots, etc...>>Narrative - The Rebellion/Riot of June 1832>>Narrative & Interlude - The sewers of Paris>>Narrative - EndingIf you are familiar with the story you realize the narrative descriptions are woefully incomplete; yet sufficient for this brief review.These interludes (digressions) can be tough. The story of the Bishop and the Battle of Waterloo I enjoyed as well as the history of Paris' sewers. Mr. Hugo's view of Monks, Nuns, Cloisters has come to fruition, but as it has happened is not interesting. In fact his 50+ page description of the Cloister in Paris is not entertaining. I was yearning for narrative. Paris and Gamins turns out to be part narrative and, for Mr. Hugo, brief. The Slang Interlude was interesting from the standpoint of what would Mr. Hugo think of today's texting! LOL. It was also relatively brief. Throughout the Les Miserables, Mr. Hugo goes into page after page of metaphors of Greek, Roman French historical figures and events which for the most part are totally lost on me. I know just enough to grasp where Mr. Hugo is going (most of the time).The Rebellion and sewer narrative is very good. But the ending is overly long. Frankly, Dickens is much more efficient in wrapping things up.I read this because I like to read and the digitization of everything allows me simple access to the text, for free. I would never have purchased this and read it.You may want to consider an 'abridged' version of Les Miserables, if you don't want to tackle 1,800 +/- pages. I read a copy from Project Gutenberg via MobileRead. The ending contained a letter from Mr. Hugo to his Italian publisher. The Miserables are all of us. Humankind. [ This is not a spoiler :) ]