I finished this book late last night and i thought it was brilliant, mainly. There were so many bits that i felt compelled to read out loud for the poetical nature of them or because the thought needed to be shared. And when I went to sleep after finishing I literally cried, and (potential spoiler alert) I thought about my situation where earlier this year I left my husband and the daughter of my most amazing and beautiful daughter and I took her away to another part of the country. My husband went through some major personal development and change and consequently we got back together and are really happy. But this book really upset me as it talks about being forced away from the thing you love most and from the thing that gives your life purpose even if it is your fault that you’ve had that thing taken away. And I thought I am so glad that I gave my husband another chance, because how cruel it is that only in the last moments of Jean Valjean’s life did he get to be with Cosette again, only in the last gasps of life was he released from his own guilt and given the chance to freely love and be with Cosette.
This book initially felt very daunting. It is huge! But I felt drawn to read this book and so I got into it.
There were definitely times I wanted to stop reading and I am glad I stuck to it because I have to say this book sits alongside my most favourite book.
The story it tells of Jean Valjean and the complexity of him that it portrays is unbelievable. A man racked with guilt only because he has been told to feel guilty by societies own standards. But here is a man who completely in a moment and indefinitely turned his life around and became more saint than man. But he lived his whole life punishing himself for one small thing he did out of a desperation forced on him by society. It is sad to think that the best people in this world go about their goodness without grandeur. That they seek no reward and so very often go unnoticed and their achievements are often never known to others. I feel like the moral here is to talk to one another. To be with other people. And to be open and open minded.
In the style so common with this writing period there are loads of off-shoots into political, social, etc comment which often times are tedious but often times are delightful to read.
I loved this book. And I would encourage others not to be scared off by this book’s size. It is a gem that deserves reading. I can tell you the play/ film does NOT do it justice.