If you liked the movie, you would have been much more impressed by the stage show.
But both pale into insignificance next to the original novel. Certainly in every list of the greatest 100 novels ever written, Les Misérables is one of the great novels of the 19th Century. Published by Victor Hugo in 1862, attempts to translate the title from the original French lose everything in the translation.
Les Misérables paints a meticulously described portrait of French history and society in the period between 1815 and the defeat of Napoleon, and the period up to and beyond the 1832 Paris rebellion, when the characters will connect for good or for ill.
The central character, one of the greats of literature, is former convict Jean Valjean, a man dehumanised by the brutal and unforgiving justice system of the time, whose humanity is reawakened through the kindness of a stranger, and at the shame of a final act of petty thievery. Around him swirl other memorable characters: his adoptive daughter Cosette, the pitiful figure of her mother, Fantine, forced into prostitution, the obsessed and immovable detective Javert, the charming revolutionary Marius, the scheming Thenardier and a host of others.
This novel is the ultimate story of morality and social responsibility, of the ‘justice’ of the justice system, of care for the less fortunate, and of the power of redemption.
Les Misérables has been called “one of the half-dozen greatest novels of the world”. I would agree. Read this, and you will never be the same again.