Literary Insights

Literary Insights: A Book Lovers Review



Wednesday, January 2, 2013

LES MISERABLES

Les Misérables Victor Hugo first published in 1862, is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the nineteenth century.  Beginning in 1815 and culminating in the 1832 June Rebellion, the novel follows the lives and interactions of several characters, focusing on the struggles of ex-convict Jean Valjean and his experience of redemption. Examining the nature of law and grace, the story elaborates upon the history of France,  the architecture and urban design of Paris, politics, moral philosophy, antimonarchism, justice, religion, and the types and nature of  romantic and familial love. Les Misérables has been popularized through numerous stage adaptations, including a musical (1980-1985), and several films, including in 2012.

The major plot involves Jean Valjean who is released from prison, and through the kindness of Father Myriel, becomes a new man. He gets a new name via association with Myriel and his obvious kindness and generosity to others and gradually builds a successful and prosperous life for himself with a renovation of the jet-work industry in Montreuil-surmer. One of his employees is, although unknown to him, fired by the head mistress because of an illegitimate baby. Fantine goes from one occupation to another, finally becoming a prostitute.

The situation is complicated when Valjean takes upon himself the care of Cosette, as he feels responsible for the death of her mother.  The fateful decision changes their lives forever. With Cosette, Valjean learns to love and the bitterness of the years of injustice melt away. He thinks of himself as a convict and makes no excuses; his only reason for hiding and avoiding Javert is to protect Cosette and his fatherly relationship with her.

The story that has thrilled millions comes to life in a brand new way in Focus on the Family Radio Theatre's Les Miserables. This audio drama beautifully portrays the redeeming power of forgiveness through the story of Jean Valjean, an embittered convict whose life is changed by a single act of kindness. Recorded in London with some of England's finest actors, it will mesmerize adults and families alike.

The Dolby B Mastered sound is incredible. Every voice, every sound, from the rain, to the horses, to the sounds of the revolution, and the music will sweep you away to another time and place.  The story is as much history and commentary as it is fiction. In fact, so much of the history of France along with the thoughts and feelings of the people at that time dominates the book that the fictional elements almost seem accidental. The craft, however, comes through as the characters eventually interact in ways that would, in real life, be unlikely between individuals of such diverse socio-economic elements.

I recommend this timeless story, keep Kleenex handy, the story tells the importance of love and compassion; social injustice in nineteenth-century France; the long-term effects of the French Revolution on French society. Follow the long road to forgiveness with Jean Valjean in this beautiful radio production performance of Victor Hugo's timeless tale.

I received audio copy from Tyndale Blog Network for my review.