Wednesday, August 5, 2009
The Hunchback of Notre Dame - Victor Hugo
I really wanted to read this book because was going to Paris and I love reading books about places that I will be. I looked at bookshop upon bookshop (and library) in England and couldn't find it. I finally got one when I was in Paris - so I started reading it there. Let's just say it was not what I had expected.
I am sure most people have seen the Disney movie or read the children's version of this French classic set in Paris in the 1500's. The real book is in no way like the movie. I should have realized this but I didn't. So I was really surprised at how the book turned out. The book really isn't about Quasimodo (the hunchback) or Esmeralda - its really about the cathedral and also a lot about the people living in that time. The book was hard to read in places and I will admit that I skipped the chapter about Paris from a 'Birds Eye View' (I rarely skip chapters but I felt that if I didn't I would never get through this book). There was more descriptive writing then dialogue, which is common for classics but I found it a bit difficult to understand because I don't really know much about French history.
The more I read the book the more I liked it. It took me a good week to finish it but when I did I was glad that I read it. The end surprised me - the brutality of the book also surprised me. I was looking for the feel-good Disney ending and I didn't get it. The book left me feeling sad at how people are judged by what they look like and sometimes their characters are shaped by the way people act towards them. Things are not so different today.
Rating - 2