This is my second post about 2015’s books for The Classics Club. I’ll be reading one classic book a month through 2018. Track what I’m reading for the Classics Club here. I’ll try not to include too many spoilers in my review but I may need to discuss some in order to fully review the book. I’ll warn you if I’m going to mention one.
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (unabridged, translated by Norman Denny)
- Year Published: 1862
- Reread? Or new to me?: new to me
- Number of Pages: 1200 (I did not read the appendix, which contained two sections of the original text that the translator deemed unnecessary to be included. It would have been closer to 1300 pages if I’d read the appendix too.)
- Date Finished: 6/1/15 (I’m still counting that as a May finish!)
- Number of Days it took me to read it: 54
- Page/Day ratio: 22:1
- Will I reread this?: I highly doubt it.
I loved the core story of Les Miserables – the saga of Jean Valjean, his love for Cosette, the priest’s sacrificial love for him and all that. I saw the musical on Broadway just after I graduated from college. It was my parents’ graduation gift to me that my whole family (minus my just-married brother) got to go. Still, that was 16 years ago and I didn’t remember much at all. So it was as if I was reading a new book and I loved it.
I will never read it again though, because I also hated it.
What did me in was all the chaff that I had to wade through to get to the story. First of all, the book was so heavy that my hands ached terribly while reading it.
It was so heavy that I stopped reading any books for much of April and May. I knew I needed to finish Les Mis (Miz? how do you spell that?) and so didn’t want to pick up another book but also couldn’t force myself to heft that book for one more minute. What did I do instead? Mindless scrolling on my phone. Boo hiss about that.
Somehow, I slogged through, trying to force myself to read every word (but not really succeeding either), until I realized that I only had four more days before I HAD to return the book (out of renewals). With the determination to find out the ending but not keep the book even a day extra, I started skimming. By skimming, I mean I was skipping entire pages, even entire chapters, just looking for a character’s name I recognized. I managed to “read” over 300 pages in a weekend!
It’s a mark of the greatness of the book that I was sobbing by the end, even if I was so mad at it for being so ridiculously long.
How about you? Have I ticked you off for calling the history/philosophy/politics chaff? Can you convince me that I should have tried to understand it?
Would you like to join me in reading The Door in the Wall by Marguerite De Angeli in June? It’s a blessedly short Newbery Award winner, published in 1949. (Short is the main reason why I chose it for June.) I’ve already read it but probably won’t get around to reviewing it for a couple more weeks. So you have time to read it and join in on the discussion!