The Hunchback of Notre Dame, by Victor Hugo
When I suggested this book I received a violent outburst from Lisa suggesting that we NOT read this book. But as I had never read Les Mis or this one, and this book was cheaper by comparison, I picked this one. (Thus you are made aware of my reasoning.)
As to style of writing, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Hugo had humor. Or, at least the type I appreciate. He has little quips and phrases that struck my funny bone. It was almost Frasier-esqe at times being subtle and refined. He threw a reference or two to the Iliad which I found hilarious. It was an unexpected surprise.
As to the story, I also enjoyed it (until the end, but I'll discuss that momentarily). I enjoyed the characters and instantly cared about what would happen to them. The hardest thing to get through was the description of the way people treated Quasimodo, our deformed hero. I suspected that that was the reason Lisa would have hated this book. It's hard to read about how cruel one person can be to another with little to no cause. Hugo was quite descriptive in his writing which made Quasimodo's situation painfully clear. He was hated because he was feared for being as ugly and deformed as he was.
Despite the title of the book, it isn't actually very much about Quasimodo, but more about Esmerelda, the gypsy girl. Her 16 year old beauty seems to be the center subject of the book by which all the other (male) characters revolve around in various forms and fashions. She acted 16 in several respects, reminding me once again why I am incredibly thankful to have a son and not a daughter. (With all due respect to mothers of daughters.) There just seems to be more to keep track of with girls, as this story can attest to. For the record, I did NOT appreciate how descriptive Hugo was with the interactions between Esmeralda and his other characters (i.e., the Priest and Phoebus). But if you skim over the sum total of about 3 paragraphs you can get around the vivid picture and get the gist of what's happening.
I will not spoil the end by telling anyone who hasn't read it what happens. Let's just say I came to realize why Lisa would hate the book so much. I'm not sure I share the dislike with the same fiery passion as Lisa displayed for us. However, I can't say I'm overly fond of the way Hugo chose to wrap things up. It's a Beauty-and-the-Beast-gone-bad sort of tale. I'm incredibly curious to see what Disney did with this story. I can bet their take was something more....lighthearted in nature. And although they may have Disneyfied it to make it more palitable for younger audiences, I'm quite certain that they missed Hugo's wit which I'm very thankful to have been exposed to. On to Les Mis (when the price becomes right)!