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Topic: "War and Peace" and "Les Miserables"-opinions?

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Subject: "War and Peace" and "Les Miserables"-opinions?
Date Posted: 5/14/2008 11:04 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
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I have both of these on my home bookshelf.  How many of you have actually read them, and did you REALLY like them or did you read them just to be able to say you read them? LOL!  (In other words, are they like "Satanic Verses" in that they are famous, but nobody is actually reading them?)

I'm thinking I'd be more interested in "Les Miserables", but I'd like to hear your opinions.  I'm about to finish my R.F. Delderfield book and am wondering what I'll read next. 

Date Posted: 5/15/2008 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 9/29/2005
Posts: 131
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I absolutely LOVE Les Miserables!   I think I first read it in 7th or 8th grade (which is many more years ago than I care to admit to! LOL!)   Since then, I've re-read it I-don't-know-how-many times & always enjoy it thoroughly every time I go back to it.  

Sadly, I've never read War and Peace though, believe it or not.   One of those books I've *meant* to get hold of & read, but just never have....

Date Posted: 5/15/2008 8:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2005
Posts: 295
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They both take patience, but are worth the effort.

Date Posted: 5/15/2008 8:40 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
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Thanks, gals!  You may be the only two people who have finished either book! LOL!

Date Posted: 5/15/2008 11:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2006
Posts: 1,930
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Last Edited on: 1/31/09 1:09 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/17/2008 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 5/5/2006
Posts: 4,325
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Here's a War and Peace Character guide:  http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/warandpeace/characters.html

I love Les Mis, but I'm not keeping up with the readalong...  there are some days I'm too busy to pick up a bood...sigh

 oh: and here's a character list for Les Mis: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/lesmis/characters.html

Last Edited on: 5/17/08 11:45 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/21/2008 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 2/7/2008
Posts: 309
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I've read both. Honestly, Les Miserables was worth it, but it took effort. All that Jean Val Jean stuff you have to really push yourself through. In fact, the whole book took effort, and really was one that I read to say I'd read it.

War and Peace, on the other hand, is one of my favourite classics. It's not boring at all. Even the battle stuff is good. Tolstoy is not a hard read - he's a bit like Trollope, he tells you what to think. No wading through obscure symbolism. He just lays it out for you and it's actually a good, easy read. I say go for War and Peace, you'll be pleasantly surprised.


Date Posted: 5/22/2008 7:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 5,931
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I also loved Les Miserables.  It took me a longer time to read than most books but it kept my interest all the way through.

Date Posted: 5/22/2008 9:01 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2008
Posts: 389
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Wow!  All sorts of opinions on this one!  Thanks everyone!

Date Posted: 5/24/2008 10:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/26/2007
Posts: 87
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I bought the unabridged Les Mis last year. I read up to the part where Valjean comes in, but after trudging my way through the opening with the priest, I lost the will to read (LOL :D). I definitely want to finish sometime in the future, and W&P has caught my interest lately. I do think Les Mis will definitely be a worthwhile read should I ever have the time and energy (especially to lug such a thick paperback!).

Last Edited on: 8/9/11 4:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/3/2008 12:16 AM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2007
Posts: 24
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I've read Les Mis, and it is definitely worth it! Yes, it takes time (a LOT - I'm usually a quick reader, but I took nearly a year to read this) and sometimes it is hard to understand, or boring, but just keep ploughing thru, and you'll make it! It's nice that Hugo varies the descriptions with action, and once you get to the action parts, you'll see that the long descriptions really were nessesary. And it really is an enjoyable read once you get used to the style.

I haven't read War and Peace yet; it's on my to-read list. :)


Date Posted: 6/22/2008 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2007
Posts: 702
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I'm reading War and Peace right now.  However, I'm reading just a few chapters (they are short) a day and reading other books also.  It was supposed to be my classic for June; however, I didn't begin it until the middle of the month.  At the rate that I'm reading it, it may be my classic for June and July.  However, I do enjoy it when I'm reading it.  I don't make a big effort to keep the characters straight.  The way that Tolstoy writes makes it enjoyable reading even if I do get them mixed up.  I'm trying to buy a leather-bound classic each month on ebay.  I got a great bargain on W & P that looks brand new.  So, it's even fun to hold this beautiful book in my hands while I read it.

Date Posted: 6/22/2008 6:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/19/2005
Posts: 5,091
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I read Les Miserbales and didn't really care for it.  I found it too melodramatic for my tastes.

War and Peace, on the other hand, I loved, loved, loved.  I never wanted it to end, even after 1500 pages.  It's just a wonderful book on every level.  I never had any trouble keeping the characters apart (though I did get a little tired of hearing about the "downy upper lip" - seriously, I don't need that kind of clue to keep them separate in my mind!).  I highly recommend it.

Date Posted: 7/14/2008 10:25 PM ET
Member Since: 6/5/2007
Posts: 2,513
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I've read both. My preference is W&P, it was a quick read (despite the length) which Les Mis was certainly not.

And, Kari, I LOLed at the 'downy upper lip' yes, I noted that it was said every time she was described as well, and I have quite the sympathy for her, having one myself.

Date Posted: 7/20/2008 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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Read them both and loved them. Caveat. I have never re-read Les Miserables, and probably never will. W&P, however, I have read many times. Sometimes, though, I just read Peace (ie, alternate chapters). Anna Karenina is very good, but it is so sad. Try Tolstoi's shorter works as well. Quite good.

I usually read Russian novels in the winter, used to be during my period. Since I have gone through menopause, I forget to read them.

Liked Brothers Karamazov, hated C&P.

Date Posted: 4/2/2009 5:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/5/2009
Posts: 3
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JK H. agreed. Peace is amazing amazing amazing. War is good, but once you've read the whole book a couple times, Natasha and Pierre are all you want or need.

Date Posted: 4/27/2009 11:59 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2009
Posts: 406
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I've only read Les Miserables, but I really really enjoyed. If you're not in for all 1300 pages or whatever it is, they have some really good abridged versions. I had to read one for a class. I had already read the full unabridged version and didn't fill like the shorter story lacked much at all.
Date Posted: 5/15/2009 10:11 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2009
Posts: 360
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After reading an unabridged version of Les Mis, I have to say, I could never recommend it that way. Read a good abridged version. You don't really want to read about the sewer system of the city, in detail, do you? ;-)

As for War and Peace, that was just INCREDIBLE! Of course, it took me 6 months to read, but I enjoyed it. It was complex, the characters earthy and real, and the social situations were really interesting to read about. However, the ending was a bummer. It was pretty much a lecture and didn't have much to do with the story plotwise.

Date Posted: 5/27/2009 2:05 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 56
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Loved them both - though (dare I admit it?) I do believe I like the musical Les Miserables a bit more than the book.  I know!  Sacrilege!  War and Peace is one of those novels that you really have to be committed to.  It's great and I loved it, but Russian novels are always extra tough because of the fact that one character has anywhere from 3 to 6 nicknames for an already confusing full name. Didn't much care for Tolstoy's other famous novel: Anna Karenina.  It was alright, I suppose though.

If you like War and Peace - start of Dostoevsky (one of my all-time favorites), especially Crime and Punishment.  It's absolutely excellent.  It takes a bit of work to read, but it's 100% worth it.