Friday 28 December 2012

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame Victor Hugo

It's 1482 in Paris and a young Gypsy girl has stolen the hearts of most of it's citizens. She entertains the crowd with her dancing and her pet goat. Several men in particular are enthralled. One has stolen Esmeralda's heart. The second is torn by his love and loathes both himself and Esmeralda because of it. The third is the famous Quasimodo, bell ringer of Notre-Dame. He is devoted to the beautiful gypsy after she shows him more kindness than anyone else has. As a result he is devoted to her. When Esmeralsa's love is found dead she herself is blamed. Only Quasimodo saves her from a hanging as he hides her away in his beloved towers.

I am sure I picked this up before and didn't get very far. Determined this time I forced myself through the first 50 pages which seemed to have nothing to do with the main story whatsoever. It took time for any of the main characters to turn up. However, it does make sense eventually and it's worth sticking to. Even as I was annoyed at what seemed to be unimportant description I was impressed by the beautiful writing.

The story is actually slow paced. It spands over 500 pages and nothing much happens in most of it. Instead we are given back ground information to some to the characters. We are also seemingly given unimportant detail of other people but it all connects up and even if it hadn't I was too mesmerised by the writing to care.

I loved each of the characters. Esmeralda's story was just as sad as that of Quasimodo's (well, almost). I even felt sorry for the villan of the book who was so torn by his own beliefs. I'm speaking of course of the Archdeacon who had lived a celibate life and belonged to the church. Esmeralda was everything he couldn't have and yet everything he wanted. The only character I had little sympathy with was that of Esmeralda's love, Captain Phoebus. He seems typical of a lot of classic books. The vain and lazy military man who has no money and so has to marry well. Wants his bit on the side too. I am sure there is one of him in a lot of classic literature.

Over all I loved the book and it was a good last choice for the classics challenge. Since the December prompt for this one is a wrap up I am going to do that separate from this review. If you want to see what others did you can see it here on Katherine's blog, November Autumn.


  1. I have never read the Hunchback of Notre Dame, although it's been on my TBR pile for years. What you write about the very slow beginning and the amount of seemingly uninmportant information reminds me a lot of Les Misérables. Victor Hugo seems to construct all of his books in this incredibly wordy and excessive way, but for me too, his writing makes up for everything :)

  2. Very wordy and yet all relevant. I think you put it better than I did. I will probably leave reading Les Miserable for a while then. I will get round to it some day though as the writing was too good not to want to read more.