Hugo's sympathy with the oppressed; the grand scope of the novel; Hugo's gift for fine metaphors and aphorisms; some of the dramatic scenes; the sensitive narration.
Absurdly long, detailed tedious digressive essays on things like the battle of Waterloo, the history of convents, the history and geography of the Parisian sewers; hard-to-believe characters who act in unbelievable ways; corny melodrama and sentimentality; excessively long and repetitious accounts of almost everything due, it seems, to Hugo's sheer delight in showing off his poetic inventiveness.
I have great tolerance for long 19th century novels. But so often I found myself thinking: come on Victor, you've said everything you've got to say abou this event, character, situation, action, motivation, relationship, dilemma. All you're doing now is just repeating yourself using alternative metaphors. Let's get moving! I also found the plot pretty silly in places; a lot depends on coincidence and people acting in unbelievable ways.
Hugo's philosophical reflections, which abound throughout, are sometimes interesting; but he's too much in love with paradox and coupling unexpected antitheses--a tendency which has bedeviled French writing ever since.
The narration is good. I liked the translation: it employs up-to-date language which makes the novel less stodgy than it might otherwsie be.
The book contains some great writing, and the narrator is excellent. However, I wished I'd chosen to read rather than listen to this book. The large cast of characters, the non-linear narrative, the subtleties of the connections between different episodes, etc. made it difficult to keep track of everything. I still enjoyed many parts--the first chapter is wonderful--but I struggled to keep the whole thing clear in my head.
This novel is a gem. Well written and beautifully constructed, with human, pathos and drama all thrown in.
This is a wonderful novel, funny and poignant, imaginative yet grounded in history. One of the best contemporary novels I've ever read. The narration is excellent.
I love Dickens, so I enjoyed this novel. The historical account of the riots is interesting and graphic. As usual, there's some wonderful writing and characterization--and the reading is excellent. As a work of art, though, it is not one of Dicken's highest achievements.
I view this as one of Sayers' weaker stories. Much of the mystery hinges on something that is presumably supposed to be a surprise when it is revealed but seems to me to be pretty obvious. My wife and I listening in the car twigged it very early on.
Maybe this is a good book, but we just became too impatient with the first part to find out. We started listening to it on a long drive; but after two or three hours we gave up on it because we just got bored with a seemingly interminable preamble in which the author vaguely indicates what is to come but talks much of the time in bland generalities.
I was a little disappointed in Villette. The narration is fine. But the novel is almost painfully lacking in any real events. The best thing about it is the subtle representation in Lucy Snowe, the narrator, of desires that she is not fully aware of. But she is a frustratingly cold and uncurious personality. She's so turned in on herself, so reluctant to actually do anything, that the novel becomes boring at times.
It's amazing that this is Eliot's first novel. The story telling, the dialogue, and the reflections are all so assured. The narration is truly wonderful. I'm originally from the part of England where Eliot grew up and where I imagine it to be set, and she gets the accents dead on.
I wouldn't call this Great Literature: I doubt if I'd consider reading it again, for instance. But it is still first rate literary entertainment. I especially like Irving's wry humour. The narration is very good.
A well-written and interesting dystopian novel. Given how famous it is, I was a bit disappointed. But I tend to be a little impatient with the method of narration that keeps many things mysterious and leaks out what's going on bit by bit. Still, it's an impressive feat of imagination. The narration was decent, but somewhat lacking in variety of voice or tone.
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