Jean Valjean spent nineteen years in prison — five for stealing bread, fourteen for trying to escape. Valjean tries to make a new life for himself, but he cannot escape the stigma of his past, nor the oppressive watch of the cold-hearted Inspector Javert.
Fantine is a working class woman barely scraping together enough for herself and her young daughter Cosette. Both mother and daughter are exploited by the greedy innkeeper Thénardiers, who keeps demanding more and more money. Fantine’s health begins to deteriorate, and in her desperation she begins to consider prostitution.
These are but two of the unfortunate souls from Victor Hugo’s massive novel about rebellion, redemption, authority, romance, and justice. Les Misérables is a rich, complex, profound, and heart-breaking work of historical fiction, and one of the greatest novels of all time.
This includes all five volumes, as well as illustrations by Émile Bayard. Also, many of the more poetic passages are preserved in the original French, side-by-side with an English translation. (Can’t do that on Kindle!)