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Book: Les Misérables

Author: Victor Hugo

Original publication year: 1862

Reading language: Finnish

  Translated by: J. V. Lehtonen & Eino Voionmaa (shorted by Reino Rauanheimo)

Finnish publisher: WSOY, Helsinki (in corporation with Bonnier Books Finland)

Printed in: EU, 2013

Reading status: Volume I: Fantine, book IV






Where does the story take place?

The books takes place in France and dates to the year 1815



Spoiler warning!


Briefly what has happened and not-so-briefly what I think about it:


Unlike all my expectations, that are purely based on the musical, the reader is introduced to a old mister Charles-Francois-Bienvenu, the Bishop of Myriel Digne. He's a very generous, selfless and kind man who leaves with his sister Bapstine and old servant Mrs. Magloire. The first book discripes all the good deeds he does, my favorite being when there's a murderer in Digne who is punnished to death and the Bishop stands in for the sick preacher of the prison to prepare the prisoner for his last journey. The bishop is very kind to this poor man and prays for his soul and comforts him. And he succeeds in it. The Bishop is present even in the execution and there says his last words to the prisoner. This scene really shows how generous he is and how he is ready to help absolutely anyone, even a murderer.


Well, in the II book Jean Valjean finaly appears with his yellow passport searching for a place to sty overnight. And it came from the bush for me. I had expected that the reader would have followed how Valjean suffers in the prison until he gets out and somewhere in the middle of that we would have a story from Valjean's past, the bread stealing and everything like in the musical. But heck no, let's just introduce thin random character that everyone despises for some reason. This part shows how cruel people can be. Valjean wonders around the time and finally comes finds his way to the bishop. He tells to the Bishop (who doesn't tell his title to Valjean) that he's an ex-convict and recently got out of prison. The bishop doesn't care about this and offers him food and a bed. When Valjean is trying to sleep at night, we are told what happened to Valjean. I likes this part because it discriped what was happening inside his head, how he condemns the entire society due to his deserved but immoderate punishment. This is one of those things that I really love in victorian literature: Character personalities changing because of the things that happen to them and descriptions about their thought process during that change or otherwise. This part also brought to my mind the story of Edmund Dantés from my beloved The Count of Monte Cristo. I honestly would have wanted more time to be spent on this prison-Valjean but it only lasted for few pages.


During that night, Valjean also steals the Bishops Silver and escapes. Later that day three police officers brings him back to the bishop and tell him that Valjean was caught with his silver. The bishop says that he cave the Silver to him. The police officers believe him and let Valjean go. The Bishop gives Valjaen also two candlestick and tells him to use the silver to become and honest man. This famous part doesn't last longer than two pages but it leaves a mark on readers mind. After this Jean Valjean's mind is messed up because he can't understand the bishops actions. He leaves the town still confused, wondering his own evilness that he also shows towards a young boy named Gervais. He decides to change and we never hear about him again. This part was also candy for me because I love to see characters thinking about their own personality.


We timeskip to the year 1817 Then we are introduced to a company of four working class women, Dahlia,Zéphine, Favourite and of course Fantine and four lads from university, Tholomyés, Listolier, Fameuil and Blachevelle. These eighth characters are in love with each others Tholomyés being Fantine's first love. They spent a day in Paris having fun and at the evening they have a good meal at the in. The boy's leave saying that they are gonna get "the surprise" they have prepared for their girls. After an hour the innkeeper gives then a letter from the Boys and in the letter they tell that this is the surprise. The boys tell in the letter that they've been called by their parents and that they are gonna follow that call. To put it short, they leave the girls they've been taking care of for two years. All the other girls aren't that shocked over this but Fantine is an exception. She has a child. And I think that Fantine didn't know to be careful because she had no mother to teach her that. Fantine's parents are unknown according to the book. 

I saw this coming for two reason, first, I've seen the musical, second, the combining of upper class university boy and a lower class girl doesn't lead to any other results in Victorian era (except in fiction). It was completely normal at that time for men at the university to have a lover or something similar. And when they graduated, they left the girl on their own with nothing and few years later married a lady from their own class. It was disgusting but well, Victorian era had a lot of errors behind all those fancy clothes and pretty hoses. I think I will see more of these errors while reading further this book.


Anyway, some time later Fantine (who has become very poor and does everything for her dauther, Cosette) mrs. Thénardier who's kids are playing outside. Fantine approaches her and with Mr. Thénrdier dome to an agreement to take care of Cossete while Fantine is away. But Thénardiers clearly cheat Fantine and ask her way too much money "for Cossete" but use the money for their on accord. I didn't expect the book would show us Fantine's backstory but in the other hand the book is really fat. 

End of spoilers

My thoughts:

I've been liking the book so far. It describes the misery of the lower class people really well and I'm liking the language Hugo uses. It has everything I ask from a Victorian novel and it adds a whole lot of things to the story of the musical. I can't wait until we get to Javert! There is a lot of character descriptions and I enjoy reading their thoughts.  I also like that Victor Hugo writes about society and the nature of mankind. It might be a little bit slow for me but I'm used to that after reading other, slow Victorian novels. (I'm currently near finishing Dracula and it still feels to bee a little slow) For some one who isn't used to reading books this kind Les Misérables might feel quite slow. The descriptions are also very long (like in every Victorian novel, excluding Stevenson's writings) just like I like them to be but I can see them to be exhausting to some readers. 

So far Jean Valjean is my favorite character because he has this "good man becomes bad but becomes good again when he get's mercy" story. I'm not so interested about Fantine because there's not really anything in her personality that would wake my interest or fascination. She's simply a woman with a tragic story. I know, nearly all of the characters in this books has a tragic story, but with Fantine she doesn't change, it doesn't have a twist. It's just misery after misery and it will be like that judging by the musical. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate Fantine but neither do I like her. I do pity her (I nearly cried at one part) but nothing else. I quess it has to do something with the fact that I can't really relate to her or get the connection to her the same way I get the connection to Valjean and the Bishop. But maybe I find new sides of Fantine as I read further. After all, I've read nearly hundred pages our of... 971.  


Overall opinion: Good and enjoyable though it's really weird to enjoy this because I'm reading a story about misery and tragedy... Oh well, happiness, crapiness.

Plus: Hugo's language, Valjean, philosophy, long descriptions (this could be a minus for some people but I long for them. Books without good/creative or poetry-like descriptions are boring....)

Minus: Fantine could be potentially more interesting imo, little bit slow 

Grade: Let's say 9- for now. 

For who I recommend this book:
Can't really say yet. 

  • Listening to: AC ost, Jonathan Young, Disturbed
  • Reading: Boy, too many books (total of 13 and Kuroshitsuji)
  • Watching: Kuroshitsuji, Rick and Morty, Doctor who, MLP
  • Playing: Assasin's creed and Portal 2
  • Eating: vanilla pastry
  • Drinking: Water


Book: Treasure Island

Author: R. L. Stevenson

Publication year: 1883

Reading language: Finnish

  Translated by: no info

Finnish publisher: Otavan Kirjapaino Oy

Printed in: Keuruu, Finland (2012)

Reading status: Finnished (Now read three times)



What's the story about?

Treasure Island tells a classical adventure tale of the search for pirate treasure. It's a report of a young lad Jim Hawkings, the main character and the narrator of the book, where he tells about his and his company's travel to Treasure Island in order to find a treasure of a death, infamous pirate captain Flint. Their only guide is Flint's treasure map that Jim gets on his hands in old Admiral Benbow inn. But there's also a group of pirates (Flint's former grewmembers) searching for the treasure they plundered years ago.

My thoughts:

Reading this book for the third time was rather different from the last two times I've read it. The first time I read Teasure Island was about five or six years ago. And I didn't wait for long to read it again. So there's been few years between this and the second time. Though, I do have to be honest here, and I did start re-reading this book a long time ago and only now finished it. I think the reason I took this book back to my hand was because I randomly found a German musical Die Schatzinsel that was based on the book (being rather different from what I have understood, I can't really yet understand German so...) But what was different this time, what that I was more analytical and paid more attention to the small details. For example: Characters personalities, how many days they actually were on the island, the deeper meaning of the characters dialogue and so on. While reading for the first two times I only paid attention to the random pirate facts (even on those which were historically inaccurate) and the plot.

First of all, there one thing I want to point out. I never was so much into our main character, Jim Hawkings even though everything is told through his eyes. There was one moment on the book, where I actually felt like I could relate to him. When thinking his personality, the only thing I can relate to is his curiosity, which is shown only for once or twice. It's weird to have unrelatable character as a main character. Jim is spontaneous, naive, honest and brave like all the teenage boys in an adventure novel like this one. But to be honest, from the beginning I was more interested about the pirates than Jim's story. But I do pity him because at the ending of the book he tells the reader that there's no way he would ever, ever return to that cursed Island, which has a history of blood and death. I just want to hug Jim for being so traumatized by the things that happened on that Island. And I think that Jim is the weak point of the book that still has such an interesting setting, story and characters (excluding Jim). Don't get me wrong, I like Jim, but I love all the other main characters. The way Captain Smollet is a strict man of honor, how Dr. Livesey is logical based but still so warm, Ben Gunn and how he is a little bit insane, Trelawney... well, he's actually an exception because I really never liked him.

But who is my favorite character then? Well I suppose it's rather obvious (pirate nerd coughs). It's John Silver. The only actually complex character in the book. Silver is one of those characters who start as a good guy, then they're revealed to be the villain and in the end they are in that grey area where you can't tell anymore. He has a lot of contradictories in his personality. He can appear to be nice and warm and in seconds he can become a threatening killer. He plays his own game and changes sides when he's side is loosing. He's manipulative and in most cases talks his way out of trouble. he may be old and have only one leg left, but he might be the most dangerous one of the group. after all, even gruesome Flint was afraid of his first mate. what I wonder is why. Flint is told in the book to be a creepy, cruel captain. Squire Trelawney says that even Blackbeard was a child to Flint. So what was so scary about John Silver? Most likely his dis-loyalty and double faced nature. No one could know that was in Silver's mind. And for a captain that is a threat because with Silver's skills with words would make it easy for him to raise a mutiny against Flint. But of course, I can be wrong because we hear this from Silver's mouth and not from Flint, so he could be just fooling the other pirates. You can never know.

The other reason I love Silver is when he starts talking. I love the way he talks and makes a point. Almost all my favorite moments include Silver doing a long speech. 

I've always liked how there twist and turns in the plot (which I will get more into later in the part with spoilers) and how we are also introduced with a little information about character's history. There is though the fact that some of the plot points are driven by that good old "how convenient" -things but for me at least it didn't ruin the story for me because they still were writen well. The language used in this book is good old Stevenson and like all the other Victorian novels, it has long descriptions. But not as long as they could be. I've noticed that Stevenson could be a good Victorian author for moderns readers because his writing aren't too long. (taking notice that he actually had a big trouble writing a novel this long, loosing his motivation before the characters even got to the Treasure Island!) Comparing modern literature with Victorian and you'll notice that in today books aren't as long as they used to be. (there are, of course, modern books that are long, Harry Potter and the order of the Phoenix being a good example) Descriptions aren't anymore so long and not everything is so detailed. I suppose this is also because modern reader may not have the time nor the motivation to read a book size of a The Count of Monte Cristo with a plot that goes on really slowly. This is at least what I think.

Getting back to the Treasure Island I've also been wondering the themes of this book for there really doesn't seem to bee any. It's simply an adventure tale. The only theme I can come up with is greed and how it lead to your doom. Greedy and evil pirates face rather terrible end while the good guys keep the treasure. 

I will now "briefly" explain the plot so...

Spoiler warning!

The story stars as Jim Hawkings i living with his parents on their inn Admiral Benbow when a strange man who calls himself "Captain" rents a room. Captain tells Jim to keep an eye for "one legged man" who looks like a sailor and after that Captain get's a visit from a man called Blag dog trying to make Captain give his map to him but Captain then evicts him away. He then has a stroke put of strong alcohol use but Dr. Livesay is there to help him, telling him to quit drinking and to rest for one week. Jim father dies of an illness and Captain is again visited by a blind man called Pew who gives him a "black spot". A piece of paper with a time, when Flint's former pirates are going to attack to the inn in order to get the map. Captain dies on another stroke and Jim whit his mom search his sailor chest and find Flint's treasure map. They manage to get away before the pirates attack and give the map to Squire Trelawney and Dr. Livesey. Together they decide to go hunt that treasure and take Jim with them.

In Bristol, Trelawney has hired a grew and a captain. he introduces Jim to their ship Hispanola's cook John Silver, who has only one leg. Jim remebers captains warning about one legged man but is sure that Silver isn't the one captain had men. On Hispanola before the croup sets sail, Trelawney, Livesey and Jim have a conversation with ship's captain Smollet who tells them that he doesn't like this trip and that he has heard they they are going to search for treasure. Dispite this, they set sail and Jim is helping Silver in the kitchen. On the way to the island, Mr. Arrow (who is constantly drunk) falls overboard at night. some time after, Jim overhears a conversation between Silver, israel Hands, Dick and some other grew members. He finds out that they all are Flint's pirates and are going to raise a mutiny when they have the treasure. Right after the conversation they arrive to the Treasure Island. Jim tells about the pirates to Squire, Captain and Doctor who decide to let the pirates go ashore and then move to a stockade that is marked on Flint's map. Jim goes ashore with the pirates and the runs way from them and later he witnesses Silver to kill a grew member who was still loyal to the Captain and the others. He escapes from the crime scene and comes across a man named Ben Gunn who had been marooned to the Island some years ago. Gunn leads Jim back to the stockade where he re-unites with Livesey and the others. The seacook (Now being Captain Silver) shows up and has a parley with captain Smollet. They don’t come to an agreement and after a while the pirates attack to the stockade loosing the battle in the end. Smollet is badly hurt and one of their men dies.

At night Jim has decided to sneak to the Hispaniola and cut it’s anchor rope. Without telling to his mates, he takes Ben Gunn’s (koraakkeli) amd sucseeds on his mission. He starts to drift away following the coast line of the island until he finds Hispaniola that has drifted from it's  original location to the north side of the Island. Jim finds pirate Israel Hands on the ship, wounded due to the fight he had with George Merry who Hands killed. They team up so that they can find a safe place for anchoring but after they succeed on that, Hands tries to kill Jim but Jim shoots him half accidentally. 
Jim return to the stockade only to find out that Silver and his pirates are there. Silver tells Jim that they made a trade with Doctor Livesey. Silver's grew, being frustated on him after noticing that the ship is gone, give him the black spot which makes Silver to loose his captaincy. But Silver has Flint's map (which Livesey cave to Silver without explonation) and so the pirates decide to make him their captain again. 

On the next day, Dr. Livesey comes to see the pirates in order to threat their wounds and illnesses. He has a talk with Jim and begs him to escape from the hands of pirates but Jim refuses doctor's offer because he had made a promise to Silver not to leave him. Long John joins to their conversation and Livesey warns Silver to look out for trouble when they find the treasure. 

Later Silver, Jim (as a hostage) and the others go searching for the treasure but all they find is a large hole. The other pirates get angry at John and just as a fight is about to start Dr. Livesey, Ben Gunn and Gray arrive and start shooting the pirates who flee from the place. Silver switches sides again and is now one of captain Smollet. Jim is then told that Ben had already found the treasure and had hidden it to a nearby cave where Trelawney and the others had then move after giving the stockade to the pirates. They leave the island with the treasure. They stop by in a port and go ashore but when they return they find out that Silver has stolen a boat and left with small amount of the treasure. Rest sail back to England and share the treasure. 

End of spoilers



Overall opinion: Third time reading and I'm still enjoying it. Deserves to be one of my favorite books

Plus: Good characters, interesting plot, Silver

Minus: Jim is not so relatable, chapter 24 is a bit boring

Grade: 9 1/2

For who I recommend this book: Every single pirate nerd who still haven't read this book! For those who want adventure and fierce pirate tales and for those who are seeking for lighter and good spirited classics. 

((note: This journal port was originally posted on June 8 but it was deleted accidentaly)) 
  • Listening to: Iron Maden
  • Reading: Boy, too many books (total of 13 and Kuroshitsuji)
  • Watching: My little pony
  • Playing: Skyrim