All posts by Meredith

About Meredith

Hello! I am a homeschooled teenager who considers herself a nerd, spends time reading, writing, quoting movies, studying British history and playing/listening to music. I use this blog for book/movie reviews, book subjects, and general geeky reflections. Thanks for stopping by!

The Les Misérables Book Review

Victor Hugo’s tale of injustice, heroism, and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat–by his own conscience, when, owing to a case of mistaken identity, another man is arrested in his place–and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert…A compelling and compassionate view of the victims of early nineteenth-century French society, Les Misérables is a novel on an epic scale, moving inexorably from the eve of the battle of Waterloo to the July Revolution of 1830. (-from the back cover on the Norman Denny translation)


I finished Les Miserables!!!! It took me 79 days, but it’s done now.

You’d have no idea how many times I fell asleep reading it. Sometimes in the morning my mom would walk into my room to wake me up, and find me slumped over that book(I call it “that book”, because “Les Misérables is getting tiresome to type). I was at page 900-something a few days ago, and planning to finish it some time before December ended, but then I thought, “You know what, I’m just going to finish this now,” so I spent, like, 5 hours each day, pushing through it.  I even stayed up till 2:30 one night(impossible without black tea and my Pirates of the Caribbean Pandora station). Wow.

Oh, and one note before things get started, spoilers will mainly be marked, so feel free to read even if you haven’t tried the book yet!

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To kick things off, I’d like to address some the common concerns one hears for Les Miserables.

Firstly, you’ve probably heard someone complain about the length. And, that someone would be right to do so. Admittedly, Les Miserables is a thick novel. In fact, it’s over four times longer than Pride and Prejudice.

In a way, the length can be attributed to Hugo’s tangents, which, I must write, are inexcusable. While visiting the library Thursday, I found a copy translated by Norman Denny(mine was by Charles Wilbour). Being in a strong Les Mis-craze, I read the introduction. I’ll quote it here, as many of his points parallel mine.

But some of the digressions, or interpolations, are still indefensible, the most flagrant being the account of the Battle of Waterloo, which occupies the third book of Part Two. It is sub-divided into nineteen chapters filling sixty-nine pages of the closely printed French text, and only the last chapter, seven pages long, has any real baring on Hugo’s story…tremendous though it[Hugo’s account of Waterloo] was, [it]had no more to do with the story of Les Miserables than any other major historical event that had occurred during the century. -Norman Denny

But, without the longer tangents, the work would still carry on for 1,000+ pg., which leaves the rest to be attributed to the pure scope of the narrative(also, perhaps, general wordiness on his part). Hugo skillfully worked multiple characters’ stories together, introducing new plot twists every other page(yeah, that was an exaggeration).

So, was it too long? Yes.

Should it have been pages, and pages, and pages shorter? No.

Another popular concern(quite possibly the most popular) relates that the story is toomiserable, too sad, and too many characters die. Also, tied into that, are the disturbing morals of some of the main characters.

Yes, the story is miserable, but please don’t forget: it is named Les Misérables(poor wretches). Hugo didn’t intend to write a happy novel, bursting with smiles, or ending with a contented-sigh-worthy conclusion. Quite the contrary; to preface one 18 pg. digression over French slang, he writes–

When thirty four years ago the narrator of this grave and gloomy story introduced into a work written with the same aim as the present, a robber talking argot, there was amazement and clamour. 

However, I will concur that certain sad aspects could’ve been avoided.

*Spoilers*

For example, I believe Hugo should have killed off the barricade boys. Even Enjolras. He spared Marius, for which I am ever so grateful, but more than one survivor of that failed 2nd French revolution would’ve been going to far.

Character deaths which I didn’t find necessary?

1. Madame Thénardier

2. Jean Valjean

3. Gavroche

And that’s only three!

Eponine should have died because she never would’ve been happy without Marius,

Fantine should have died because she never would’ve been happy without Cosette, and

the Bishop should have died because he was old and already happy.

*End of Spoilers*

Don’t misinterpret this, the character deaths hurt me just as badly as they did any other Les Mis fan, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have done the same if I were Les Miserables’s author. Sorry.

Lastly, readers(myself included) dislike Hugo’s disregard for the “show me, don’t tell me” skill. I have nothing to refute this. That, and the tangents were his largest flaws.

Now that I’ve scratched the surface of those ideas, I can move to praise for Les Mis.

The Characters

Jean Valjean

One of my top favorite characters ever. Just wow.

Fantine– I do wish he’d spent just a wee bit more time on her. She’s pretty well-developed, anyways.

Cosette

Mehhhh. It’s not that I hated her or anything, but, I wish she had done something a little more than fall in love and marry Marius.

The Bishop-

Um, did I need to read his 50 page biography?

No, he was my favorite at first, I just got tired of his life after a while. (Wow, that sounds rude.)

Eponine

Eeeep! Second favorite character.

Marius

Contrary to the opinions of many fans, I appreciated Marius. I even liked him. But, at the same time, he made me SO MAD.

Enjolras

I can’t decided whom I liked better between the two, but I completely respect the opinion of anyone who likes Enjolras better. He was pretty awesome.

Gavroche

He was sinful, too. But, his carefree, selfless disposition really touched me.

Other Parts I Liked/Loved

When Jean Valjean dragged Marius through the sewers. The guy who had fallen in love with Jean Valjean’s favorite person in the world, daily visited Valjean’s garden without his permission, AND Jean Valjean still exerted everything he could towards the fragment of hope that Marius would survive. That is why Jean Valjean is my favorite.

The scene where Marius watches the confrontation between Thénardier and Jean Valjean. That had to be one of the most well-constructed pieces of literature I’ve ever encountered. I mean, look at the dilemma Marius was in!

Conclusion

Would I recommend Les Misérables? Most certainly. It’s one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read, and if one considers Lord of the Rings as three separate books, then it’s my favorite. Les Misérables trumps any of the individual Lord of the Rings installments. (But, if you’re like me, and you see them as one whole book, then LotR is still my favorite.) 🙂

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Favorite Character: Jean Valjean

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Thank you for reading!! If you’ve gotten thus far, I’m impressed. Please tell me your thoughts!

Note: All quotes, unless otherwise marked, come from Charles Wilbour’s translation.

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5 Male Characters Tag

Hello, all! My apologies for neglecting to post in awhile.

I filled out the Five Female Characters Tag a month or two ago at my other blog, and now it’s time for the Five Male Characters Tag, so here you are!

Rules

1. List 5 of your favorite male characters (book or screen)

2. Tagging other people is optional

3. If you are tagged, link back to the person who tagged you.

(That would be Abigail at Castles in the Air!)
4. Link back to  Revealed in Time (preferably using the link to this post)

Choose one from each category:

1. Hero

2. Villain

3. Anti-hero

4. Best book-to-screen adaption

5. Best character perception

Hero-

Sam Gamgee from Lord of the Rings You can read why I like him here, but for now suffice it to say that he’s arguably the most quotable character in LotR, as PInterest can tell you:

Villain- 

Saruman from Lord of the Rings I’ve mentioned him as being one of my favorite villains before, and I think most LotR fans could agree: he’s at least the best villain in Lord of the Rings.

Anti-hero-

Dustifinger from Inkheart

 He’s not a hero. But he isn’t exactly a villain either. Reading the book, I wanted to like him but every time I started to, he’d go and do something wrong or selfish. All the same, one can’t help feeling bad for him.

Best Book-to-Screen Adaption-

Another difficult one! Ummm, let’s say Mr. Bingley from Pride and Prejudice(2005). Of course, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth are the main focus of the movies/books, but the actor portrays Bingley’s carefree, likable character surprisingly well.

Best Character Perception

Hugo from Hugo  Movie-Hugo lived and deepened book-Hugo just as the movie kept with the spirit of the book, only complementing the main thread of action with additional scenes.

Onto the tagging!

I tag KB at 1900s Fashion

Morgan at The Day the Lord Has Made

Accepting the tag is completely optional. Have fun!

Browsing Pinterest

As many of you may know, I lean heavily on Pinterest when I’m looking for fun ways to waste time. 😉 Lately I’ve been pinning quotes from movies and such. Here are some of my favorites(and if you subscribe to this blog by email, I’m very sorry but I don’t think the pictures will come up in an email):


So how about you? Which sort of pins do you enjoy browsing through?

Why I Read #2

I read because. .  .

Reading Connects Me With Other Readers

I think all book fangirls have experienced it. The awkward/boring conversation that sky rockets with energy once a good book is brought up. How can books do that? Well, here’s my best attempt at explaining it(and excuse the clichè allegory):

Imagine you’ve been on a long journey. During that journey, you’ve watched people grow up, marry, or die. You’ve hurt yourself laughing; you’ve met new friends; you’ve discovered new places. Although it’s not quite the same, that’s how readers feel after finishing a food book.

Now imagine you’ve found another person who went on that journey. That person has experienced all the same things you did. That’s how I feel when I find someone who’s enjoyed the same books as I have.


“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: ‘What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .'” -C. S. Lewis

Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

Monica and I are working on a goal of reading/watching all of the Disney princess movies. Our first movie was Cinderella. Monica’s next pick was Snow White.

The Book(called Snowdrop)

My Review– It’s difficult to review Grimm’s fairy tales as they’re completely different in writing style and genre from my usual reading selections. Snowdrop is no exception. The characters were weak(besides, perhaps the queen), the writing quality hard to critique since it’s translated from German, and the setting vague. But, as a fun, simple fairy tale, I found it entertaining.

Rating: 3 stars

Favorite Character: The Wicked Queen

Monica’s Review(in interview form): 

Q. Did you like the book? A. No

Q. Why not? A. It was kind of kiddish.

Q. Is there anything you did like? A. Snow White was my favorite character.

Q. Which was your favorite part? A. Probably when the first dwarf said, “Who stole my bed?”

Q. Would you recommend this book? A. I would, to some of my friends who like fairy tales.

Rating: 2 stars

Favorite Character: Snow White

The Movie

My Thoughts:

Favorite Character: The Queen

Rating: 2.5 stars

Favorite Scene: “High, ho! High, ho! . . .”(whatever that scene is called)

Monica’s Thoughts:

Favorite Character: Grumpy

Favorite Scene: The scene in which the dwarves wash off Grumpy.

Rating: 4 stars


And, some lines we enjoyed:

“High, ho! High, ho! It’s home from work we go!” -The Dwarves

“Mark my words, there’s trouble a’brewing!” -Grumpy

“He says it’s a monster, sleeping in our beds!” -Dock

Snow White: “I said, ‘How do you do?'”   Grumpy: “How do you do what?”

Thanks for reading! What do you think of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves?

Why I Write #2

Reason #2-  Writing Opens the World of Writing Tips

This may sound boring and trivial, but to me writing tips are fun and much more helpful than you might think. Here’s a collection of tips from one of my favorite authors-

I really need to do #5 more. Which is your favorite?

Or, how about this tip?

What are your favorite writing tips? Each author has his own methods, but I think browsing through tips on Pinterest or talking with more experienced writers can really help.


“Writing every day is very, very helpful, but set the bar at a place where you have no excuse: It doesn’t matter how tired you are, how late it is, you will do it. So if you say, ‘I will write one hundred words a day’ — set the bar there, and then you can actually get over that bar.” -N. D. Wilson

~Why I Read Reason #1~

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I’ve been gone fishin’ and a little busy with life in general lately, so I let my new blog idea go for a bit. But, I’m back now and ready with–

#1- Books Are Deeper Than Movies

There are those occasional exceptions, but you’d be surprised how often this principle is really true.

I don’t just mean movies which don’t always follow the book. I mean (almost)any film adaption of any book, regardless of how faithful or unfaithful.

This may just be me, but I feel that movies are much more entertainment-centered, whereas books focus less on keeping you on the edge of your seat and more on telling a thought-provoking story which will linger after you’ve closed the book and picked up another.

Why do you think books are better? Or would you like to argue that movies beat books? I’m interested in what other readers have to say. 🙂


“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”–Groucho Marx