More manga to feed the soul (lol). So it’s been awhile since I last checked out a Manga Classics, possibly because I just haven’t been in the mood to read much. But recently I was bored and I thought I’d do some reading (and by some I mean a lot)
I decided to check out Les Miserables for a couple reasons. One is that I’ve seen this book all the time in the bookstores, have wanted to check it out, but it’s size always left me passing it up. Second is that I was really curious about the novel and Manga Classics has been a good way for me to learn about the story while still not knowing everything.
The manga starts off with Fantine and Cosette going around town. Fantine is trying to find herself a job to provide for Cosette who looks to be about 4 or 5 years old, but no matter where she goes, she is turned away. It looks like Cosette is an illegitimate child and no matter her intentions, Fantine is branded a bad woman. Her salvation seems to come from a woman with kids of her own. Fantine asks her to take care of Cosette while she goes out to look for work and the woman’s husband agrees…for a price.
A price Fantine notices is only getting bigger and bigger as time goes on. Having to work so hard and being called out upon having an illegitimate child starts to take a toll on her appearance and health. Especially when she receives news that Cosette might die of sickness. It’s only after she’s almost sent to jail when she meets Mayor Madeleine, who promises to bring her daughter to her.
However, what her and the rest of the town don’t know is that Mayor Madeleine is an ex-convict who is trying to remake his life. Unfortunately for him, a certain Inspector Javert won’t rest until he finds him and puts him back in jail
Overall the story features a lot of miserable people, as we should expect based on the title
In terms of the story, I didn’t really have many issues. It seemed to flow rather well, even when it went from Fantine’s story to Valjean’s. It just somehow fit together, possibly because it was done early on and their lives intersected. I thought it was really nice how Valjean still went to save Cosette even though so much time had passed. Part of me wondered if he was just feeling responsible for not reuniting her with Fantine, or if it was something more. Did he like Fantine romantically?
I especially thought that when he saw Fantine as an angel
The only story I wasn’t really feeling was Marius. He’s introduced when Cosette is already older and he’s a bit of a creeper, sniffing and keeping her handkerchief. Then we get his whole story in flashbacks and I guess by that point I wasn’t expecting a new character, much less a love interest. He does have some misfortunes in his life but overall he didn’t feel as wretched as everyone else so far. It was also during this arc where a lot of people ended up dying and it just felt convenient. I’m guessing it flows better in the novel but here I wasn’t convinced
I was also a bit upset with how easily Cosette stopped seeing her father. It happened when Marius goes to see Valjean about the marriage certificate. Valjean refuses to sign it and tells Marius why. Like everyone else in the story, Marius judges Valjean on that one incident and tells him to go away. Cosette does seem upset about it, as we see a few panels later, but she doesn’t really do anything. Just accepts it in a way. It really upset me because of all the great things Valjean had done, especially for Cosette
Overall I really did enjoy reading this and I’m really tempted to go out and pick up more manga classics (and possibly buy them). I like how they open up classics for younger readers and old people like me who just can’t stay awake when reading a classic
I ended up giving this book a 5/5 on Goodreads