I’m a couple of chapters away from finishing Les Miserables,* thanks to the enthusiasm of a friend** and to Nick Senger’s excellent chapter-a-day read-along schedule.***
It’s a fantastic read – hard going at times, but deserving of its reputation. Beside the story itself (forgiving its long string of ridiculous coincidences), I most enjoy the little**** insights into life in another time, and the texture and nuance they give to our understanding of, say, what a barricade was like in 1830s France, and the sheer complexity and the turmoil of the era.
But my point today is to share this: as I finished a particularly moving chapter, for some reason it crossed my mind that Hugo might finish the novel with the infamous “It was only a dream,” ending.
The thought of this made me furious. An ending like that would be an abomination that made a mockery of my reading. It would mean that none of it was real…
***Les Mis is one of the few books with exactly 365 chapters. I’ve read in bursts, had fallen badly behind, but am now almost there.
****And in some cases, very long