Context: Got myself a brand new crash helmet sent over from the US while I was reading this one.
Oh this was so much better than the mauling Disney puts the story through. So much better. There was so much more death and sadness and unrequited love and none of the baddies spoke with a British accent.
I have to admit that I felt it was a bit of a slow start. The French title is Notre Dame de Paris and for a while there I thought the cathedral would play a more central role. In fact, it could well have done and it would have been a more effective novel for it. There’s one whole chapter devoted a painstaking description of the cathedral and its place in the city but I wish he’d brought the building into play even more than he did because its architecture fits the foreboding woe that hangs over every single character.
I’m trying now to think of one character who comes off well from this novel and I’m hard pushed to think of one. Even Gringoire, who goes off happily with the goat, seems to have traded some sanity for it. But what a storyline and what great character development. Hugo must surely be the French Dickens, non? I loved the way that Hugo brings characters in and out of the immense storyline so that you’re never quite sure where they may pop up again and play a vital role. It keeps you on your toes as you meet new ones and they play excellent supporting roles to the main characters throughout.
I also enjoyed the way the story swung from suspense to description to dialogue to suspense again. There’s a certain rhythm to the novel. For all I know it may be typical of Hugo. This is however the only one of his books I’ve read and, although I’m familiar with Les Miserables having seen the show in the West End four times, I’ve not yet read it. If I was determined to before this book, I’m even more so now.