Society condemns the poor. But people can rise above their means and be vindicated by society. The premise of Les Misérables will never expire. The social ills of today differ only marginally from those of Hugo’s epoch, and the story’s pertinence will never wane. Hugo’s writing is inspiring and poetic throughout. The descriptions of love – for one’s child, one’s sweetheart, one’s freedom, one’s country – are incredibly moving. Confronted with these 531,000 words, it certainly helps to be a bit of a Francophile with a general interest in history. Nevertheless, I challenge anyone not to be enlightened by this extraordinary book.

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