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Les Misérables- an astounding classic

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Book Review#1

Les Misérables

Les Misérables by the French novelist,Victor Hugo is one of the best known classics of literature which has been translated into a number of languages.It would be invariably read by all book lovers mostly the abridged versions.Les Misérables is in fact,one of the longest novels ever written with 655,478 words in the original French.

There are numerous subplots within the novel centering on the ex-convict Jean Valjean who is the protagonist. It is indeed a masterpiece in world literature.

This was one of the books I have read as a child-an abridged version then,of course-and since then it has captivated me and remains as one of my favourite books ever.Each character sketch has been plotted quite beautifully and you never get bored.Its quite difficult to pen down the feeling of reading through the storyline however I shall try to give a synopsis here.


Set in the post-Napoleonic era just after the French Revolution, Les Misérables is the story of Jean Valjean, a convict, who has just been released from prison after serving 19 years for a petty crime.He witnesses a life changing experience involving himself and a bishop following which he assumes a new identity.But he is always followed by Javert,the police officer who is suspicious of him.The story gains momentum when Jean Valjean sets out to free Cosette,the daughter of grisette Fantine from her slavery at the house of the Thénardiers'.He raises her as his own child.Years later,she falls in love with a young lawyer named Marius,who joins a band of revolutionists.Jean Valjean saves an injured Marius from the barricade risking his own life.Eventually Cosette marries Marius and on his deathbed,Jean Valjean reveals his story and sacrifice to the young couple when he finally finds peace and solace.

The Movie:

Although there has been many on-screen adaptations of the book,in my opinion,the best so far is the musical film by the same name directed by Tom Hooper in 2012.It boasted of a celebrated cast which included Hugh Jackman(Jean Valjean), Russell Crowe(Javert),Anne Hathaway(Fantine), Eddie Redmayne(Marius),Amanda Seyfried(Cosette) and Helena Bonham Carter(Mrs.Thénardier).The movie was praised for the direction,casting and musical score;In 2013, the film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including the Best Picture, Best Actor in a Leading Role for Hugh Jackman and Best Actress in a supporting role for Anne Hathaway which she eventually won in addition to BAFTA and Golden globe awards.

Personally,I feel the movie has done justice to the book as all the actors have done a wonderful job in bringing the characters to life.I particularly loved Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway both of whose acting were lauded by the reviewers.

In short,this is a classic which is a must-read for the booklover in you.The plot has been beautifully laid and it never fails to keep you glued.

What the canadian author Robertson Davies has said-"A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon and by moonlight”-is perfectly right for this masterpiece.

Do try to grab a copy if you haven't read it yet!

(P.S: Though I have given the synopsis,I assure you that in no way would it spoil your reading experience!)

(Let me know what you think regarding the book review-whether you need more elaborate synopsis,character sketches etc.Shall modify my upcoming reviews as per popular opinion.)

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