Sunday, January 20, 2013

Les Miserables




When I was 23 my mom took me on a trip to New York City with her design class (she taught interior design at a local community college and was fortunate enough to get to take a few trips to NYC with her students).  Part of that trip included tickets to see Les Miserable on Broadway.  Amazing right?  Well here's the thing, I was bored to tears.  I'm a little embarrassed to say that, but it's true.  I didn't really know the story line, so I had a hard time following what was happening and just felt a little blah about the whole thing.

I read this post a couple months ago from A Blog About Love and decided that's what was missing for me.... a connection.  I had no connection to this story.  I had never read the book, I didn't know the music from the play, nothing.  Upon reading Danny's post and seeing the trailer for the new movie (which I watched at least 20 times) I was determined to get my own connection to this timeless story.  Knowing that Les Mis has had such a deep impact on so many people I started to feel a little left out--like I was depriving myself of a really good thing.  Does that make sense?  So I downloaded a free version onto my ipad, but found myself lagging after a few hundred pages.  Fortunately Danny told me that free digital translations aren't always the best and I might want to check out the standard penguin version.  I figured if I'm going to buy a book I might as well buy a book.  So here it is, the most beautiful copy I could find.  As you can see I'm not quite half way through but I am determined to finish this before the movie leaves the big screen.   Honestly, I think the loveliness of this book is proving to be a great motivator in itself.  So if you don't hear from me as much the next couple of weeks, now you know why.  I'm on a mission... Les Mis or bust.

Do you have similar connection to Les Miserable or another story/movie?   Was in ingrained into you by your parents or was it something you found on your own?      

21 comments:

  1. Anonymous2:06 AM

    I was named after the character Cosette from Les Mis, and because of that I have always loved anything to do with the musical: the songs, the story line, the play itself, especially the most recent movie. I was so enraptured by the character that shared my very unique name. I am glad my parents named me Cosette because it gave me such a special connection to this powerful story.

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    1. I do love that name Cosette...so cool to have such a direct connection to this story.

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  2. i love the story. but, i think the musical is totally boring. (everything takes so long!). but! i love the music. i know that doesn't make sense, but its why i loved the movie: i can actually see what's going on plus there's music.

    i've been too chicken to read the whole book. so rock on. i'm totally impressed.

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    1. So glad I'm not the only one! But I seriously hope to have a different experience after finishing the book.

      Don't be scared reading this...I mean I know it's overwhelming and I felt the same way, but I think the best advice I was given was just take it slowly, and let the masterpiece unfold...

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  3. I loved the book but found the new movie pretty boring.

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  4. I had a hard time finishing the unabridged version (which may have had more to do with the fact that I was 14...) but I picked up the abridged version 2 years ago and loved it. I also personally loved the new movie.

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  5. I saw Les Mis on Broadway as well, and I left feeling like I just didn't "get it." Everyone was raving and gushing, and I thought, I missed something, I didn't pay attention enough, etc. I'm glad you posted this, b/c for the longest time, I have felt this way when people rave about the show. I am a book person, so maybe the book is the way to go. I look forward to your review.

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  6. Anonymous11:04 AM

    The book is about the miserable. It's about people who aren't supposed to count in society. Hugo is trying to show us that everyone should be treated with compassion and understanding. The he sets it against a backdrop of French historical events. Besides the really long section on Waterloo, it's a really good book.

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  7. Anonymous1:05 PM

    You need to get a copy of the concert album and get to know the music. This was how I was first introduced to Les Mis, which motivated me to read the book. The music is so emotional that it makes the story even better. If you are familiar with the songs, I believe you will enjoy the movie better.

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    1. Good suggestion! I do know some of the songs, but just not well...

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  8. I saw the musical first, and liked it. Then the summer after my senior year in high school I read the book. I loved the book. It is my favorite book ever. It gave me so much to think about, and so much to be grateful for. I must warn you that I walked around my house crying for several hours the day I finally finished the book. Words can't explain how I felt ending that wonderful story. Once you are done and see the movie I think it will blow you away. How can you not be moved seeing Fantine's slow descent into a world she desperately is trying to avoid?

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    1. Yes! I am one of those people who can get so engrossed in a book or movie that when it's over I feel sad that it's not my life...I'm a little nervous for the post-book blues.

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  9. Anonymous3:39 PM

    I saw the musical in Boston during the summer after my sophomore yr of college. I had never read the book, didn't know the story, and I had NEVER been to a professional stage production of anything (I am from a small town). I went alone because none of my friends would shell out for a ticket.

    From the moment the curtain rose, I was ENTHRALLED. I am sure it was the spectacle of it, as much as the story, but I will always have a soft spot for Les Mis. I read the book the next summer, when I had a terrible internship in DC and spent hours sitting on the train. The book, too, just swept me away.

    I now know I am a sucker for sweeping stories. I am equally smitten by Look Homeward Angel, Absalom Absalom, Our Mutual Friend, and Uncle Tom's Cabin. I even loved Moby-Dick. My husband calls my library a doorstop collection. :>

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  10. ummm. SERIOUSLY!? That BOOK!? WHERE of WHERE did you find it. I am one of those LOVERS of Les Mis! I saw it on TV on PBS when I was really young.. I didn't know what it was... but I knew I loved it AND I had to DO IT. It's probably one of the earliest moments I knew I wanted to be an actor. Now that I'm all grown up, I'm baffled by the spiritual meanings in the show. I LOVE IT! I've never read it... not sure I want to... I guess I'll see how reading it goes for you! But I LOVED the show, I LOVED the movie (except for Russell Crow... TOTALLY RUINED IT!!!) and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cover of your book!! AH!

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    1. Erin--I should have put a link, this is just one of the Penguin clothbound classics that they're publishing in these amazing covers. There are quite a few beautiful books out like this...here's a link:

      http://cn.penguinclassics.com/static/penguinclassicspubsets/clothbound.html

      I actually ordered it through a local bookstore so I could get what I wanted but support a local place at the same time.

      And of course you loved it instantly! You should definitely tackle this book...don't let the size scare you, I do like it so far.

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  11. Wow lady, I'm proud of you. That book is no small undertaking. I am among the millions who *LOVE* Les Mis, grew up listening to the music and have seen the live musical a few times-- the last time being in college and I just bawled, BAWLED through it. I didn't know until a few years ago that I have a possible blood connection... My genealogist parents believe that one of my ancestors may have actually fought in the French revolution. Booyah.

    I don't know if I'll ever take on the book but I still think I NEED that gorgeous copy.

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  12. Wow, i am so surprised you guys find this book "a great undertaking"! I read it when i was 14 (translated to my native russian) and I found it so easy to read. It is one of the books you cannot put down, the language is so lovely and the story so easy to follow. The musical though? Totally boring, so I can totally relate to your impressions of it, Miggy!

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  13. I want to take on the book, but haven't the time at the moment. I've loved it ever since i was 11 and was in a version, we had no boys in it though so I was gavroche, which turned out well! well done Miggy!

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  14. Anonymous5:32 PM

    I read the book when I was in graduate school in Chicago. I couldn't put it down. There were a lot of other things I should have been doing, lol! I love the musical (really an opera, since it's sung throughout) too. I did know the story really well from the recording, so the first time I saw it on stage, I could easily follow it. I found the book easy to read, though I only skimmed many of the battle descriptions. DH and I saw it when it was in San Antonio last year, and it was a really great production. Can't wait to see the movie, but I haven't had a chance yet.

    Laura

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  15. While talking with friends about the recent movie version, I noticed that back when I was 16 (listening to the music and reading half of the book *cringe* in anticipation of seeing my first broadway play) my immediate connection was Eponine and her unrequited love. I couldn't think of anything more tragic. Now that I'm older, I connect deeply with Fantine and Jean Valjean. That theme of sacrifice and redemption resonates with me particularly now. Enjoy, girl! You've inspired me to go back and finally finish the book. ;)

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  16. I saw the movie last week. I have never seen it in any way. I ended up crying through out the movie. Which says a lot since I've watch some of the most depressing movies and nothing. Going to listen to the audio book later this year, we'll have to take notes. Hope you enjoy.

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