After last week's investigation of the Battle of Waterloo I hoped Hugo would move on from it quite a lot, but then we still got multiple chapters on it this week round. It's fascinating to get an insight into such a historic event from someone who was closer to it chronologically and, being French, would be more involved in it as well. However, only towards the end did it truly become relevant to the story when Thenardier popped up, robbing a Pontmercy.
From there we moved on back to Jean Valjean who escaped custody, dug up his buried money and found his way, finally, to poor Cosette. From what we'd been told before it was clear that she wasn't having a very good time with the Thenardiers but these chapters really emphasized just how dreadful her life had become. It was heart-breaking and I felt the need to shout at and shake all the adults in the book.
Feel of the Chapters:
The chapters on the Battle of Waterloo have a very historic feel to them. Hugo is great at writing heroically, I've realized, and his descriptions of the battle is stunning. As said above, it is really the description of Cosette's state of mind that really gets to the reader. It's darker than almost anything that's been written in Les Misérables so far. So far each of the characters has been, in some way, a conscious part of their downfall, but Cosette is truly a victim.
- The Thenardiers are my favourite part about the Les Misérables film, but here in the book they are truly horrid people. I'm not quite sure who made the choice to so switch it about but they realy work as characters in the book since they are just terrible.
- Jean Valjean is really growing on me, to such an extent that it's almost scary. He is so torn and conflicted in a way that is interesting, rather than coming across as spoiled, the way he unfortunately does in the film.
- There was no Javert in these 20 chapters, but I'm thinking he won't be happy as soon as he finds out Valjean is, once again, gone.
- I wonder whether there is going to be another time jump now, from here to when Cosette is grown up. It seems like it would take too long to really describe those years.
- I have officially made it a quarter though the book, almost even a third in. It's
I'm skipping the Something Interesting today because we already covered the Battle of Waterloo and no other event etc. really popped out.
'This vertigo, this terror, this downfall into ruin of the loftiest bravery which ever astounded history, -- is that causeless?'
This is one of those stunning descriptions of Hugo's for the Battle of Waterloo. It's ready to make me cry about the heroics and bravery of the days gone by.
'Forests are apocalypse, and the beating of the wings of a tiny soul produces a sound of agony beneath their monstrous vault.'
This was part of the description for Cosette's wandering in the forest to the well. It was a great moment of psychological exploration from Hugo's side and his writing was stunning.