Les Miserables (Booking It: October Update)

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Booking It is an online book club where we discuss what we’ve read over the past month as well as review a monthly assigned book. This month’s book is  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

(Heads up: if you make a purchase through any Amazon links in this post, I do receive a small percentage of the sale.)

This post could have been entitled, “The Day Fishmama Didn’t Finish Her Homework.” You see, I’ve been reading ahead on our list of assigned reading for most of the year. I dug into Les Miserables well over a month ago.

I confess to being more than a little overwhelmed that the Table of Contents took up FIVE PAGES on my Kindle. Yikes. But, once I started reading I couldn’t put it down.

I was so mesmerized by Hugo’s gift of language and by Monseigneur Bienvenue’s beautiful way of loving people, of the way God transformed Monsieur le Maire (aka Jean Valjean), of Fantine’s love for Cosette, that I was swept up into the story. Until….

Monsieur Javert.

Oh, he stresses me out. And about 19% of the way into the book, according to my Kindle, I just couldn’t keep going. The anxiety of the storyline was just too much for me.

This happens to me fairly frequently. I couldn’t finish The Help the first time I started it. I knew it would take more out of me emotionally than I had to give at that time.

It’s the same with movies. I leave the room during action films and go read the spoilers on IMDB so I know how it all ends. I can tell you the story line of all the Bourne movies even though I’ve only watched half of the first one.

I’m a sucker for a happy ending. And though I saw the Les Miz stage production about 20 years ago, and I know it ends happy. Sorta. I know it takes a box full of tissues to get there.

I just didn’t have it in me this last month.

But, as I said, I was thoroughly impressed with Victor Hugo. The beauty of his wordcraft is pretty amazing. Props should go as well to the translator of the free version I got on Kindle. He made a difference, I’m sure. We both know I couldn’t have translated it quite as well.

I will finish the book. Hopefully, by year’s end.

Les Miserables, starring Anne Hathaway, Hugh Jackman, and Russel Crowe is set to release on Christmas Day. You can see the film on the silver screen. Or read the spoilers here.

Have you been Booking It?

Tell us about the books you’ve read! If you read  Les Miserables by Victor Hugo, be sure to tell us what you thought of it.

Check out the list of 12 books that we’ll be reading together this year. Next month’s book is Happier at Home by Gretchen Rubin.

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  1. I cheat. Absolutely. I read the end of books, I look up what the movies are about before I watch them. I don’t like anxiety over something that isn’t even real. And I’m glad to know I’m not alone. No plans to go see this film, but I saw the one that came out back in the ’98 with Liam Neeson. I bawled my eyeballs out. Good movie, but the kind of thing that I only need to see once. No thanks. 🙂

  2. I recently read this to my kids. We LOVED it! It is gripping- but such a wonderful story! Hope you get through it 🙂

  3. I cheat, too. I always turn ahead a few pages to see what’s going to happen. That’s the one thing I don’t like about my kindle: it’s harder to flip a few pages forward without losing my place. I may have to look into adding this book as part of my to read list for next year.

    1. Exactly. If you flip on the Kindle, you might not find your place! Definitely one of the downsides on an ereader. LOL

  4. I read Les Miz when I was a teen – the unabridged version. Yes, HUGO is quite wordy. (Ayn Rand counts him as an influence, probably why I never finished Atlas Shrugged.) I love Les Miz so much that I cried when it was over.

    My 14 year old son just read it.

    So neat that Happier at Home is for next month. I loved it and was just working on a blog post today 🙂

  5. I thought you were reading it in french! 😉

    I understand totally why you couldn’t finish it. Last summer, I’ve started reading Jane Eyre and after 3 pages I couldn’t bare to continue. Sometimes you need to be in a really good mood to read such books.

    1. Ha! That’s what my husband said, too. I would DIE if I read it in French. I was a French Lit major and I still don’t get all of his historical references. Realizing how much I didn’t pay attention in college. lol

  6. I have started and stopped reading this several times. Hearing how moved people are (in your post and the comments) makes me think I should try again. I felt the same way about *Brideshead Revisted* the first time I read tried to read it and now I count it as one of my favorite reads.

    Can’t wait to see the movie though! The preview looks promising.

  7. I didn’t even crack it open…the story just seems…so…well, MISERABLE. I may try to read it before Christmas as my hubs wants to go see the movie. We shall see.

  8. Me too!! 🙂 Unless I know and trust an author not to take me places I don’t want to go, I start at the back of a book. It takes way too much emotional energy to invest in serious imaginary pain. There’s enough drama in real life. That’s one reason I didn’t even start Les Miserables, and that’s why I even need to avoid much of the news. It’s so good to know I’m not the only one!

    But I love Happier at Home. That’s my kind of book and I highly recommend it. I reviewed it here: http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/2012/08/review-happier-at-home-by-gretchen-rubin/

    Other books I’ve been reading this month include

    Debt-Proof Christmas (practical and inspiring)
    Embracing Obscurity (VERY thought-provoking)
    What a Difference a Mom Makes (not recommended)
    Alpha-Phonics (wish I’d had it when I was teaching my kids phonics)
    Taming the Wind (fun, although the characters must suffer from post traumatic stress syndrome)
    Work Shift (OK)
    Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (Wow! Highly recommended for all parents and teachers)

    You can find reviews of all of them here: http://anniekateshomeschoolreviews.com/category/review/

    1. It takes way too much emotional energy to invest in serious imaginary pain. There’s enough drama in real life.

      You’re absolutely right.

  9. I kinda forgot about the list so when I got this email – I was glad! I checked back and I had read at least half of them on your list. I too can’t get into Les Mis but perhaps will try again. I just finished Kisses from Katie. I had a hard time with it as well – more because I wanted more story, less …well, I wanted to know more about her daily life. I have Happier at Home waiting for me on the shelf. Maybe I’ll jump ahead too… 🙂 Thanks so much for this kind of thing. As a mom of three under five (5, 3.5, and 2) – I need lists! 🙂 Have a GREAT day.

  10. I was laughing reading your post – am the exact same way.

    I just checked imdb last night while watching a movie with my sick boy – couldn’t cope without knowing how it turned out – I do it ALL the time.

    I read the end of books too!

  11. I can totally relate to how you feel about Les Miserables. I have never read the book before or seen the play. I started reading the book about two years ago and was amazed at Victor Hugo’s writing. I still am. Like you, I could not put it down. I got a bit further than you in the story when I could not handle the sadness. I was experiencing
    a difficult time in my life and could not take the additional emotional toll it was taking to read this story. So I took a break. Here I am, two years later. I tried picking up where I left off and couldn’t. Too much time had passed. I had to leave page three hundred and something and go back to the beginning. Again, I am overwhelmed by how well Mr. Hugo wrote. His choice of flowing words, vivid descriptions, and fluid story telling is amazing. He has his hold on me again and I am not stopping this time! I want to finish the book and then see the movie. Something I always try to do. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts with you as this book has been my own emotional hurtle to get over and it’s comforting to know that someone else can understand that! Adella

  12. Well I like my kindle because I can’t skip ahead so easily. I kept skipping to the end of paperbacks and then going back and reading some of the book which really ruins a murder mystery. So, the kindle works for me, especially since I found a library system near me that has lots of kindle books to lend for free.

  13. If you like that, you will really love Crime and Punishment. The characters seemed to dance on the page for me.

  14. I saw it as a play when I was in my early 20’s – had NO IDEA what in the world was going on because I had never even heard of the book. I have since seen the movie, and am 49% of the way through the book (I skipped a ton of the war stuff) and even though I “know” how it ends I just can’t. I know I have invested LOTS of time and that it is a GREAT book and someday I may read the end. But I doubt it. I tried reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame and only got a third of the way through the abridged book (heck I didnt’ even know it was abridged) and have decided I just don’t like Victor Hugo’s writing style. LOL

  15. I love Les Mis (the musical) so decided to read the book before the musical came out in December. I started with the unabridged, but after spending much too long at 1 percent on my Kindle, I decided to switch to the abridged version. It was still long, but I finally managed to make it through. It was intense and took some serious reading. I was impressed with how similar the musical is to the book, so that bodes well for everyone who is ready to simply enjoy the musical!

  16. Les Mis is one of my all-time favorite books. I think the storyline is outstanding and find it so sad that writers cannot write such involved, deeply emotional plots as they used to. (I love Dickens as well!).