Saturday, March 7, 2015

Les Miserables (2015)

Les Miserables The Epic Masterpiece by Victor Hugo, Retold and Illustrated by Marcia Williams. 2015. Candlewick. 64 pages.
It has come to my attention that you citizens known as "Les Miserables" believe that your wretched state of poverty and hunger is an excuse to flout the laws of France. You are mistaken. Every citizen must obey the law, and those who fail to do so will be punished.
Not a loaf of bread nor an apple from a tree will go missing without my learning of it. I will hunt down every criminal--rich or poor. The law shows no discrimination and no compassion.
I also warn all members of the revolutionary republican group "Les Amis de l'ABC" that your days are numbered. Should you seek to lead the miserable underdogs of our society to repeat the Revolution of 1789, you will fail!
The true citizens of France will not support you, and France will never again be a republic. King Louis XVIII is our monarch. He and the laws of France must be obeyed.
Inspector Javert
Les Miserables is one of my favorite classics. I love, love, love it. So I was quite excited to receive a review copy of this adaptation of Victor Hugo's classic. What did I think of it? Well, I liked it very much. At the very least, it does as good a job as any movie adaptation I've seen in capturing the story and the characters. So if you're looking to enjoy the story in its most basic form, this picture book adaptation wouldn't be a bad choice. Or, if you're looking to share this one with young readers, perhaps before seeing one of the movies, this one would be a fine choice.

I love the story. I love the characters. And Marcia Williams does a good job at remaining faithful to the story and the characters, of capturing why the story matters. The story is told through narration and dialogue (speech bubbles).

That being said, while it is a much shorter read--I read it in one sitting--it is not as wonderful as the original. One could argue it is more straightforward and focused and that it doesn't ramble. It doesn't have thousands of asides that take readers away from "main" story. But there is something beautiful in the original, even in the rambling. One of the things that I love most about original novel is the richness of it--the beauty of the language, the richness of the writing, the great attention to humanity. That is lost in this adaptation for the most part.

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