About 9 months ago C13 began Victor Hugo’s mammoth french historical novel ‘Les Miserables’. First published in 1862, it is generally considered to be one of the finest novels of the 19th Century. It is a book which contains around 1500 pages, and as such is one of the longest novels ever written. It is a book about ex-convict Jean Valjean, who attempts to make restitution for past wrongs and escape his criminal past, and it contains a heap of French history.
I first bought the book for T, who quite happily devoured his way through the Lord of the Rings trilogy at 9. However, he gave up after spending 35 pages reading about one officer’s uniform. For him it was too hard.
Last summer C picked it up, and with the motivation of being allowed to watch the video once she had finished, began ploughing through it. It was a bit like love at first sight, and whilst it would be inaccurate to say she couldn’t put it down, she did often throughout any given week excitedly share tidbits with me, upset when beloved characters died, overjoyed when characters she felt belonged together fell in love.
Yesterday she finished the final page. I had asked her to wash up and with unusual reticence she dragged her feet, begging me to let her finish the book. She had only twenty pages left, and to leave the book hanging whilst she did some chores was unthinkable to her. I understood entirely and T happily began to wash up for her whilst she read.
She was so proud at the end. This was a long, and sometimes hard, slog. But she never gave up and, bless her heart, was beaming from ear to ear having, at last, finished it.
I think she was most excited to be finally able to watch the film of the book, but Gary and I had something much more special in mind. Reading and music are C13’s things, but unlike L’s trampolining don’t come with competitions, medals and accolades. We wanted to mark this occasion, because she never gave up, even during the hard-to-understand parts. So we surprised her with some very special tickets to go and see the live theatre production of Les Miserables for her birthday in October. She was so excited she could barely contain herself!
She will be tackling Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, another novel set against the back drop of French and Russian history. I think she will very much enjoy this one, as in Tolstoy’s own words, it is far more philosophical than novel-like. And C is all about the philosophy!
So proud of my little girl 🙂