Dear Mr. Hugo– A Spoiler-free Review

Dear Monsieur Hugo,

I have just finished reading your book Les Miserables. I have been reading it for over a year now, though I must admit that I have not been reading it consistently. I read up to the bit about the sewers, then finished the story by having someone else read it to me.

I started Les-Mis on a whim. Last February (2013), a blogger whom I very much respect had just finished it and he had thoroughly enjoyed it. Seeing that I could get it for free to read on my Kindle, I soon bought it and dove in, without even knowing what it was actually about.

Several times over the past year, I complained about your ability to go off into long tangents. Some of these long tangents were necessary, others could’ve been edited a bit. The sewers of Paris were interesting enough, the quicksand in it was not. But for all that I complained about, there was much more of this story that I did like.

Eponine. She is my favorite character. Sure, she was a bit twisted in her thinking at one point, but I still love her. I sympathize with her so much.

Javert. Oh my word! This is the villain who is not actually a villain! He’s not looking to take over the world or anything like that! He’s a police officer for heaven’s sake! He’s trying to arrest a convict! He’s doing his job! He is a “good” man! Not entirely correct in his thinking, but he’s not evil! (Please pardon all my exclamation points.)

Jean Valjean has been an excellent main character. The stakes were raised to incredible odds and impossible choices.

The aforementioned stakes. You raised stakes and tension to a fever pitch two or three times in the course of the book (admittedly, I had trouble seeing why one of the choices wasn’t just obvious once, but…).

The story. Well, most of it. I’m honestly not too fond of the parts with Marius (please don’t stone me for not liking him). (In my opinion, Cosette deserved better and poor Eponine should have let him go.)

Would it be wrong to say I kind of like the Thenardiers? All of them? Except Azelma. She was… uninteresting. Bland. And Madame… she was mean and scary.

Gavroche! Oh, I love Gavroche! He and Eponine were the best characters! And the Barricade Boys! And Javert! And Jean Valjean! And Fantine! And the Bishop! The characters were amazing and each one was unique. Except Azelma. And Marius; I didn’t like him. Not too fond of his grandfather, either… Can I ship Azelma and Marius? No? Yeah, I guess I don’t want to be burned at the stake for this, so I’d better not.

You were honest. You were completely honest in your exposing of human nature. Thank you.

I loved your ending, Mr. Hugo. It was beautiful and I was very close to tears. I have learned recently that if a book can be ended well enough, I will forgive the author for almost anything. I forgive you for Marius’s unlikability and stupidity.

Thank you for writing this story. I truly did like it.

Sincerely,

A young author

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17 thoughts on “Dear Mr. Hugo– A Spoiler-free Review

    • You know what really helped me get through some of it? knowing the story and loving the music. If you want to read Les-Mis, I recommend you find a blurb for it. If you’re still interested, listen to the music from the 25th Anniversary Concert (can be found on YouTube). Then, once you know the story (blurb and music tell most of it), read the book. That may seem backwards, but I enjoyed the book much more after I knew the story and had listened to all the music.
      I must give you a warning, though. Les-Mis, music and book, have some adult content.

  1. The title of this post reminded me of “Dear Mr. Henshaw.” I have never read that book, but I have heard it referenced many times, and so…yeah. Dear Mr. Henshaw.

    Obviously none of this meant anything to me beyond recognizing a name or two, but, uh…yay! YOU FINISHED IT!

    • It reminded me of Dear Mr. Henshaw, too. I actually have read that particular book. It was okay.
      I’m thinking about doing all my book reviews like this. Except for the fact that not all the authors I read are dead. But I enjoyed writing a review like this.

      THANK YOU! I’m happy. My to-read list is no longer strangling me because I haven’t finished this. Now I’ve finished it and all is right once more. (Okay, that was a bit silly of me…)

  2. Thanks for reminding me I need to read this sometime soon. Maybe when summer holidays rolls around. Oh wait, I promised to read LotR then and apparently they;re also hard reads. Whoops. 😀

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