So, if you’ve seen Les Miserables on stage or screen you will know who the main character in this book is; if you haven’t let me introduce you to Eponine. Eponine lives in post-revolutionary France. The book begins with the end – a glimpse into what happens to Eponine at the end of the novel before introducing her as a child in 1815. She lives with her mother and father in a small village just outside Paris where they run a pub. Life is hard and she helps the family out by stealing. She doesn’t like doing this but her mother and father give her no option. She has a sweet face and the customers trust her, then she steals from them. One day a woman comes to the village and asks her parents to take in a child – Cossette – in exchange for money. They readily agree but treat the child with cruelty and neglect. she is their slave, collecting water from the well, cleaning the floors etc. Eponine likes her but is not allowed to – her parents forbid her to be kind. Cossette is rescued by Jean Valjean and her life takes a different turn but not for Eponine. They meet again in Paris a few years later and the change in both girls is striking.
I have seen the film of Les Miserables and vaguely knew the story so it was nice to see some familiar characters. I liked the tough Eponine, she made me think that anyone can survive anything if they put their mind to it. I wanted her to have a happy ending but the author tells us from the beginning that she does not. Cossette was destined to succeed because she is beautiful and sometimes in life that’s the way it goes – no one said life was fair! It is well written, interesting and gives you some idea of what life was like at that time. Eponine is a strong character and you will be rooting for her to survive and succeed. The most shocking thing is what happens to her brother Gavroche – wait for that!
The book also looks nice – not that that should influence you at all!