St. Denis

November 9, 2012 at 6:52 pm (In So Many Words, Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

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My thoughts on Part Four of Les Miserables

Maybe it is a bit shallow and unliterary of me to come away from St. Denis and only have the story of my own marriage on my mind, but that’s the truth of it.  How can you read what has become a nearly epic love story and not think of your own?  Call it what Hugo does, The Stupefaction of Complete Happiness, and then maybe you can forgive me for getting wrapped up in the romance of it all and not caring for the extensive history, the depth of the literature, and all the rest of it.

“From time to time Marius’ knee touched Cossette’s knee, which gave them both a thrill.” – Book Fifth

Do you remember that? That feeling like a shock, but so much gentler, when the object of your affection makes contact; the feeling incredibly enhanced when that person loves you back… Do you remember?

I met my husband when I was fourteen, my freshman year of high school.  He was old for our grade and already fifteen.  By the time I was fifteen too, I was sitting next to him at lunch our sophomore year, just friends but wondering desperately if he would ever want more.  In those days, I thought a knee knock or a hand graze was everything.  Come to find out, it was nothing compared to him taking my hand to walk me down the hall later that year.  Or even much later – years later – when he would hold just my pinky finger under a blanket in college because we were under orders from my then boyfriend not to hold hands.  We were best friends by then and the idea of not holding hands with my best friends was excruciating.  That same evening he leaned in and whispered in my ear, “I’ll always love you,” and then some blithering nonsense about my boyfriend and the direction of our lives.

Things changed then.  Obviously that (very awesome and dear to me) boyfriend didn’t last as a boyfriend, and I finally knew what I had wanted to know all along: my best friend was my truest love.

Our first year as a couple at my 3rd degree black belt test.

The innocent but thrilling touches didn’t end there, we spent an entire summer trying to ease my parents into the idea that he was around.  I neither confirmed nor denied that he was my boyfriend – at twenty I didn’t think it was any of their business – but during the school term we were in different cities so we wanted to take advantage of the time we did have.  It was like a Jane Austen novel in my head, something like Jane Fairfax and Frank Churchill: catching glances across the room, brushing knuckles and fingertips in the hall.  Sneaking a whisper and a kiss when no one was in the room.

“What passed between these two beings? Nothing.  They were adoring each other.” – Book Eighth

Apparently, I have thing for secrets, because that was nearly the entirety of all my relationships, relishing in the act of not letting anyone know.  The difference this time is I was dying to scream it from the roof tops: One day I will  be Mrs. Jonathan Klemm!

As for complete happiness, it is still had.  We fight and argue – after all, we are married- but at the end of the day, at the end of it all, I can snuggle up in the crook of my love’s arm and hold his hand.  He will rub his thumb against mine, lean down and kiss my forehead, and all is well again.  The thrill of the small and innocent touches still there – after all, we are married.

Skip to my next Les Miserables post.

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May 20, 2012 at 3:08 am (Events, Reviews) (, , , , , , )

Notes from a Les Miserables Blog Hop

It took me longer to pluck through Cosette than it did for Fantine.  Only because it was so engrossing, I had to take a delicious detour into the historical writings of Charles Esdaile, author of Napoleon’s Wars.  Hugo was quite the scholar, and it shows in his writing, he goes on rants and exciting commentaries on things extremely relevant in his time, but which I feel a little less than educated on.  Not that you need additional reading to follow him, he is quite detailed.  I just like to know what I think about things before someone else tells me what to think of them.  So with new knowledge and a fresh perspective, I dove back into Cosette shortly after finishing Napoleon’s Wars, and I’m glad I did.  I recommend that anyone serious about reading Les Miserables, read a bit about the world prior to the introduction of Jean Valjean.

More than tell me much about Jean Valjean, it told me much about Hugo.  Often when reading work like Les Miserables, where all the characters go through long stretches of being miserable and down on their luck, I wonder what changed the author so to make them either so hardened or so empathetic (as one can write similar stories from two completely opposite positions).  Knowing more about the era, the place, being more familiar with my history, shed some light on those things.  For starters, Hugo writes about the aftermath (and even certain parts of the wars) with such passion.  He says things like, “Napoleon was one of those geniuses who rule the thunder” (pg.285) and “To make Wellington so great is to belittle England” (pg. 301).

Within the pages of Cosette, Hugo often references other writers and literature, comments and allusions to Aeschylus, Virgil, and Voltaire, just to name a few.  This got me even more curious about his frame of reference, his education, and I discovered he was trained to be a lawyer, but chose writing instead.  Not only did he write the novels we are all aquainted with, but poetry, a few nonfiction pieces, as well as founded and edited a literary journal.  He was highly devoted to the concept that everyone should have the opportunity to be educated, and in 1851 took part in the International Peace Congress in Paris.  As a member of the Legislative Assembly he was forced to flee France when Napoleon III came to power.  (  Now, I can’t wait to own everything the man ever touched.  I’d also like to find out if those literary journals are available anywhere, but I haven’t looked yet.

Of course, there’s more to Hugo’s writing than social commentary and history.  There’s a beautiful story unraveling about an old man and a young girl who need a family and have created one in each other.  Funny enough, it reminds me of the story starring Natalie Portman called Leon, The Professional.  Its a personal favorite of mine, and if you haven’t seen the movie, you should definitely check it out.  After reading all of Fantine’s history, and knowing all that Cosette had gone through with the Thénardiers, to have Cosette rescued from them led me to the deepest sigh of relief.  Like the first time you hear the story of Cinderella and discover she is no longer in the clutches of the evil step mother and sisters, Cosette leaving that household felt like she tumbled into a princessdom.  Now, I can’t wait to see what is in store for the unfortuneate but relatively happy pair next.

Follow my adventures through Les Miserables from the beginning.  Here you will also find the links to the Blog Hop’s host, Kate’s Library:

The post on Cosette by the Blog Hop’s Hostess, Kate’s Library, can be found here:

Read my post on Marius (part 3 of Les Miserables).

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Les Miserables Blog Hop

April 12, 2012 at 3:08 am (Events, Reviews) (, , , )

I have been picking up and setting down Hugo’s Les Miserables for a few months now.  Its not fair… to me, to the book, to dear Hugo.  I WANT to read it, I do, but I need some buddies.  So I found the perfect solution to my dilemma and I hope some of you will join.

Kate’s Library is this cute little book blog, with a huge following, that I stumbled across on Carolina Cuicci’s blog Reading Against The Clock (  It seems I am not the only one with a brain block on Hugo this year and Kate is hosting a read-a-long.  The details are provided below on the link, but I’ll quote a few of the highlights.

From Kate’s Library:

Have you ever wanted to read Les Miserables? Do you want to bond with your fellow bloggers through a fun readalong? Do you like big books and you cannot lie? Are you looking for a readalong/challenge that’s incredibly low key? Do you want to grab 2012 by the face and make it the best reading year ever?

If the answer to any of these questions is “YES!” you may consider joining me in a 2012 litventure.  I’m hosting a readalong/challenge to read Les Miserables by Victor Hugo throughout the year 2012.

Each blogger that participates will be posting updates of the sections they have read as they complete them.  So whether you are a blogger wanting to add your opinions to the cyber world concerning Hugo’s great work, or are just a reader wanting follow the hop, check it out.

My post on Fantine.

My post on Cosette.

My post on Marius.

I read Saint Denis during Banned Books Awareness Week, read about it  here.

My post on St. Denis.

My final post on Jean Valjean, the musical, and the 2012 movie.

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