Okay, so it may have taken my Mormon pioneer ancestors less time to cross the Great Plains than it took me to read the first half of everyone’s favorite eighteen-hundred-page novel. So what! At least nobody’s died of cholera along the way. And besides, we can chalk this up as a faith-building example of “enduring to the end” — because I’ve still got about 900 pages to go.
Finally, after FOUR LONG MONTHS, I’ve finished Volume I!
My negative opinion of Victor Hugo hasn’t changed much. I still think he’s incredibly misogynistic, and his penchant for long tangents that do nothing to advance the plot still drives me nuts. But my positive opinion of Victor Hugo — which exists separately, and in parallel to my negative opinion — has grown tremendously this time around. Having taken the sage advice of Quynh-Nhu to slow down and take the pace of the novel on its own terms, I’ve grown to appreciate Hugo’s incredibly perceptive eye — and eloquent pen — for capturing social nuances, moral complexity and the simultaneously divine and devilish messiness of humanity. Those moments don’t come on every page, or even every 50 pages, but when they do come, they’re like little revelations flashing in muddy water.