Les Miserables Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of Les Miserables

Les Miserables is the story of the Miserable Ones of early 19th century Paris.
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Jean Valjean stole a loaf of bread to feed his family. After 19 years in prison, he emerges a toughened convict ostracized by society. It takes a great act of love to transform him into an individual devoted to good.
Fantine was used as a mistress by a man who had no intention of marrying her. After she bears his child, she must leave. She cannot even have the child with her--instead, she must leave this daughter, called Cosette, with the despicable Thenardiers. She has to beome a prostitute to pay for Cosette's upbringing.
Meanwhile, Jean Valjean has reformed and taken Fantine in. He is living under an assumed name, and must give up his freedom to exonerate an innocent man. Javert (a villainous inspector) is always in hot pursuit of Jean. Fantine dies, but Jean promises to find and raise Cosette.
He escapes from jail and keeps his promise, growing to love Cosette as his own. Eventually, Cosette falls for a young revolutionary named Marius, and Jean must give her up to him. Javert is constantly in pursuit, and the Thenardiers, from the con-artist father to the innocent youngest son and complicated elder daughter, make several appearances. The book as a whole is a moving commentary on love and social justice.
The review of this Book prepared by Megan

Jean Valjean is a poor, cold-hearted convict who escaped from jail (where he was unjustly put) and is struggling to gain a position in French society. He searches for shelter and meets a Bishop who will change his whole outlook on life. Jean is forced to create false identitites because the wealty people of society shun ex-convicts. The many identities Jean Valjean takes on are necessary for him to achieve his good deeds towards friends and strangers. He gets rich off of a simple idea and takes on the identity of Monsieur Madeline, who gives money to people who are in the same situation that he was once in: poverty. Javert, a justice-loving police agent, tries to uncover Monsieur Madeline's true identity as Jean Valjean, but Jean leaves the town before Javert can get to the bottom of the story. In Jean's attempts to help the poor, he comes across a single mother, Fantine, who has a small daughter, Cosette. Fantine had to give Cosette up to a random family, the Thenardiers, when she was looking for another job, and is now about to die. She asks Jean To find Cosette and take her away to where she will be safe. He finds Cosette and discovers that the Thenardiers are evil people who are also very poor. Jean takes her away and ends up loving the the little girl as his own daughter. He raises her and experiences love for another human for the first time since he was a young boy. Throughout the book, he finds many different kinds of love and completes good deeds at the same time. Cosette grows up to be a very pretty young woman, and she falls in love with a young man named Marius. Marius has his own interesting past, and ends up loving Cosette in return. Jean Valjean experiences the pain of "losing" Cosette to another man, but agrees to their mariage. Javert returns a few times, as well as the evil Thenardiers, to try and uncover his identity. Although Jean Valjean is considered a horrible man to society because of his past, he is a truly honorable hero at the end of the book. He shows that one can rise above their past.
The review of this Book prepared by Blair

It is full of many characters whose lives intertwine. Val Jean the main character steals a loaf of bread for his sister's family and is in jail for twenty years. Javert pursues him, because Val Jean breaks parole. Javert has conflict, because he see the world in black and whites and Val Jean exposes him to grays. While mayor, Val Jean, meets a prostitute that used to work in his factory. He feels guilty she is dying and promises to take care of her daughter, Cossette. Cosette is staying with the Thaindeliers. The father and mother are crooks and con artists and eventually drag their children in to it. Val Jean basically buys Cosette from them and takes her to a convent school where he gets a job. By the time she's a teen he feels safe enough to buy a house for them to stay at. Cosette eventually falls in love with a revolutionary, Marius. Val Jean has to save him from a street riot. Val Jean also allows Javert, who is still chasing him, to escape from the revolutionaries. Javert can't handle the gray and commits suicide. Cosette and Marius marry, and Val Jean confesses to Marius of his past. Val Jean removes himself from Cosette and dies of heartache.
The review of this Book prepared by Miss. Becky the teacher

For stealing a loaf of bread, and then repeatedly trying to escape, Jean Valjean spends twenty years in prison. When he emerges, a chance meeting with a religious man sets him on a new pth. Some years later, he has become the mayor of a small town, when his old adversay Javert, a policeman catches up with him and means to arrest him. Valjean escapes, needing to rescue the daughter of a dead employee. he raises the girl, Cosette, as his own. They live in Paris where Cossette meets Marius, a young revolutionary. A poor girl called Eponine is also in love with marius, and during fighting on the streets, she gives her life to save him. Valjean rescues marius from the fighting, and also rescues Javert, whose whole understanding of right and wrong is utterly destroyed by this. marius and Cossette mary, but valjean has little time left ot live. A beautiful tale, rich with detail and character, but not an easy read.
The review of this Book prepared by Bryn Pearson

This is probably one of the best books ever written!
It is about a, escaped convict named Jean Valjean, a love struck student named Marius, a orphaned girl called Cosette, and a group of revolutionary students led by the handsome Enjolras. (My true love!) ;-)
The review of this Book prepared by Jesse Shely

Hard to do in a few sentences, but it's basically about a man struggling to find a place in the society that cast him about. It is a story of love,poverty, cruelty, obsession, and redemption. It focuses on several different types of characters, from prostitutes to lawmen, from revoluntionaries to drunks, and from criminals to children.
The review of this Book prepared by natalie

This is the story of a man who comes to terms with his past and devotes his subsequent life to a higher authority than societies offering. The oppression of a man by societal law is indeed a heavy burden, but the out lifted hand of God and redemtion prevails.
The review of this Book prepared by Pete Buchan

Les Miserables is the lifestory of Jean Valjean, a rehabilitated criminal. His struggles to adhere to the truth and to restore/keep his honor continue to push him down. Through one very strong relationship with a child is he able to find worth in life. Valjean's selflessness is overwhelming and extends virtue to even the reader. Excuse me while I go and feed some homeless.
The review of this Book prepared by Wendy Edwards

Chapter Analysis of Les Miserables

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Plot & Themes

Time/era of story    -   1600-1899 Family, loving relations    -   Yes Special relationship with    -   daughter Crime & Police story    -   Yes Story of    -   bad criminals on the run Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   accused criminal Age:    -   40's-50's


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   7 () Europe    -   Yes European country:    -   France City?    -   Yes City:    -   dirty, grimy (like New York)    -   dangerous    -   rude people Misc setting    -   prison    -   sewers/subways

Writing Style

Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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