Saturday, March 29, 2014

Les Miserables: Best Book I’ve Never Read

I have never read my favorite book of all.

I recently saw Les Miserables, back on Broadway, for a ninth time and it reaffirmed my unbridled love for the writings of Victor Hugo.

Les Miserables, if you have never seen the play, read the book, watched the recent movie adaption, or viewed the PBS special, is about the first few decades in France’s 19th century, one filled with poverty and political rebellion.  The play is dark and filled with one song or scene after another about how lousy life is.  But there’s an underlying theme of how faith and love can sustain the human spirit and triumph over the obscene abuses of a demoralized society.

Even though the play focuses on the bad times – civil unrest, abject poverty, crime filled streets, prostituted souls, and injustice everywhere – it taps into the heart of the human condition and how one can have an inner conviction to rise above the gutter of humanity.

I just can’t get enough of this story.  Many, like my sister, view the play as depressing, filled with constant reminders that life presents challenges that can doom many.  But I see the glass as half-full, as an optimist.  I’m encouraged by the play's grit, its drive to dream and hope, its unfettered pursuit for happiness.

There is a line in the play that sums it up: “To love another is to see the face of God.”  Pure and simple.  Don’t worry about right and wrong or the struggles you may have.  Find yourself in the love of another.

The big chunk of the story centers around the notion of justice and the law.  Javert is a towering prison guard turned police officer who spends decades chasing down a man, John Valjean, who once served 19 years in prison for stealing bread to feed a starving nephew, and who had broken terms of his parole.

It seems the cop is blind to the bigger injustices of society but zeros in on serving the rule of law and not its heart.  He mercilessly hunts down a man who is no more a criminal than himself, a man who desperately wants to repay a debt and live a life of normalcy.

The play has turned me on to Hugo – who shares the same birthday as me, save for 165 years – and his other works.  I hope to read his books, such as The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  He was an outspoken revolutionary and humanitarian and a wondrous talent.

I may never read my favorite book of all, but I can hum every word of it.  Go see Les Miserables.  It’ll leave you feeling depressed, angry, and sad – as well as hopeful, inspired, and strong.


Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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