30 day book challenge – day 3 – The longest book you’ve read.

Les Miserables.

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Oh, that was a slog to get through.  I received the book as a Christmas present, with the intention that I would read it before I saw the film.  The film came out in early January, so that was never going to happen!  I am a quick reader and it took me the best part of a month to complete.

For anyone not familiar with the story, Les Miserables follows Jean Valjean, a man who has completed 19 years hard labour before being granted parole.  A chance encounter with a kindly Bishop gives him the opportunity to turn his life around and walk away from his past.  However, he cannot escape and is dogged by Inspector Javert who is a firm believer in the righteousness of the law.  Valjean ends up on the run in Paris, during a time of great turbulence and civil unrest, doing all he can to evade Javert’s clutches to keep a vow he made to a dying woman many years before.

I don’t mind reading a long book, but I think there is a lot more pressure for the author – the longer the book the more engaging it needs to be because there will come a point when the reader is fatigued and it has to be really good to continue.  I continued with Les Miserables out of pure obstinacy – I hate to give up and I can only think of 3 books that I haven’t managed to finish.

I didn’t enjoy it that much – every time I started to get into it, it would switch into a new part which would invariably start off with chapters and chapters of general history which did not involve any of the characters we had been introduced to.  The characters themselves (with the possible exception of Jean Valjean) did not really come to life in the way that they do in the musical adaptation.  I found Marius and Cosette utterly unbearable in the book, as they completely lacked any substance or principles.

I visited Beijing a few years ago, and I was told then that Chairman Mao said that you are not a man until you have walked along the Great Wall of China.  Well, I walked the wall, it was damn hard and I did feel like I had achieved something at the end.  My feelings towards Les Miserables are similar – I can’t say I enjoyed it much at the time, but I am proud that I didn’t give up.

Posted on August 31, 2013, in Reading and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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