Lessons from Les Miserables (aka ‘The Brick’)

WOW. I literally can’t believe I’m done with Les Miserables. At only two hundred or so pages shy of being as long as War and PeaceLes Miserables was quite the read.

Since it is such a long book, and it’s kind of a masterpiece (Hugo’s magnum opus), I don’t feel I can review a 900+ page piece of classic literature.

But I can tell you all what I learned from reading “The Brick”. (Granted, there was much I missed as this book is so long. If I ever read it again I’ll write another post on additional tidbits of wisdom and story that I picked up on.)

This list will have some life lessons, some silly things I noticed, and other random tidbits.

Lessons from Les Miserables

  1. Long books aren’t quite as boring as everyone makes them out to be. (Okay so the 20 chapter political/social/historical rant/essay on the Battle of Waterloo was really boring, but otherwise, the book was quite enjoyable.) Although long books can be intimidating, think about them like reading a whole series of books. Reading three books in a row is just like reading one extra long book.
  2. Perseverance! Time management! I choose Les Miserables as the classic I had to read for school because I knew if I didn’t have a time limit on finishing it I never would. So in order to keep moving forward in the book, I tried to read 20 pages every night. That didn’t happen every day, but I did make sure that when I did read I read that many pages. Some days I thought my eyes would go blind from all the reading in that pt. 9 font, but I found that once I kept reading it wasn’t that bad.
  3. The French Revolution is complicated. Very complicated.
  4. I think, correct me if I’m wrong, that Hugo compared the freedom the revolutionaries desired with the true freedom that comes with redemption and love.
  5. Love and goodness shine through in even the darkest times.
  6. Marius has some very odd quirks about him. And he’s madly in love with Cossette. He thinks of nothing, nothing, but her. Which makes him seem kind of silly sometimes, but can also have moments of profound maturity.
  7. You can be happy, even when you have absolutely nothing.
  8. There is a HUGE difference between an adherence to rules and genuinely being good. (i.e. Javert and Jean Valjean)
  9. True redemption really does change a person. I hadn’t understood to the fullest extent how deep Jean Valjean’s transformation was until I read Les Miserables. In the midst of a terrible time in history, he loved people and that truly shined.

I can’t seem to think of anything else I gleaned, at least at the moment, but so much about this book was amazing. The characters, the story, the history, the metaphors, the moral… All that said, even if long books aren’t your cup of tea, I highly recommend this masterpiece as your next read. It’s definitely worth it.

Comment below if you’ve read Les Miserables! What were your thoughts and insights on it?

P.S. Sorry I have not posted in a while! School has kind of devoured my blogging time… and my reading time. But not to worry! I have another book review coming up soon.


(All photos are from Pinterest.)


  1. I have read Les Misérables in 2015 and such a wonderful book. Previously I was a fan of the musical so that helped me understand what was going on. I used my knowledge from the musical to understand what was going. Les Misérables shows that there is hope in the midst of tragedy. It teaches you how can person can drastically impact your life (bishop and Jean Valjean). There are so many things to learn from it. It teaches you the importance of standing up for what you believe in. Les MIsérables is so special to me, which began with the musical

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Prior the the musical, I already loved musicals, which was sparked by Wicked. Well, I grew up interpreting ALL musicals as HAPPY and capable of excitement, love, joy, and sad.

        Les Mis changed everything. Les Mis showed me that tragic musicals and just how blind I was to the emotion, heartbreak. I started with the movie and was shocked and confused the first time since it was tragic and really did not know how to respond. I had no idea if I liked Les Mis or not. I started researching it any way. I watched it a second time that movie and I began to realize there is something special about Les Mis.

        Eventually I became obsessed with Les Mis. My first time seeing it live was in 2013 through a community college production. 2013 was when I dreamed of seeing Les Mis in London. Than in 2015 that dream came true and than in 2017 I saw Les Mis on tour in Greenville. Les Mis is what turned my love of musicals into a passion. There is a lot more to say why Les Mis means a lot to me which take a while.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “(Okay so the 20 chapter political/social/historical rant/essay on the Battle of Waterloo was really boring, but otherwise, the book was quite enjoyable.)”

    So true! I read somewhere that Hugo’s publisher wanted to cut chapters that dealt with stuff like that, but he absolutely refused. I’m sorry to say, M. Hugo, that your publisher was right!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. So, I read the Annotated Les Miserables. Which just adds to the word count, BTW! (Sometimes those annotations went half-way up the page!)

        I remember during that section of the book, the editors put in notes about how Victor Hugo wanted this book, in addition to the story, to be a history and political lesson about France. This was his Masterpiece. I guess he wanted to have his cake and eat it, too. 😉


      2. Goodness! Sometimes the annotated ones are worse lol. Makes sense, he had a point to make and he wanted to make it VERY clear. I wouldn’t want anyone messing with my masterpiece either.


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