If Les Misérables is one thing, it is too damn long. I’m sure there are people who will disagree with me and I partially disagree with myself, but 1,729 pages is just outrageous. My advice to you if you want to read this novel, unless you are seriously interested or enthralled by French history, is to read an abridged version.
Don’t get me wrong, the story is amazingly, heartrendingly beautiful, but there was a lot of history that, yes, adds to the story, but is a long hard slough to get through. I’m talking upwards of 900 pages is just history and setting and had very little consequence on the story other than to set the scene. By time I got to volume five of the book it was a struggle to get through. I mean there were fascinating facts like how much sewer there is below Paris, but I did not need to know who put it there and who mapped and cleaned it!
If possible, Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return was better than Satrapi’s first graphic novel Persepolis: A Story of Childhood. Don’t get me wrong, they were both great and the first one’s wit and humor (from the perspective of a 10-year-old) was better placed and timed, but this novel just dealt with adult issues an early 20s individual faces and thus I identified more with it.
I sill say, however, that this book provided less history and explanation about the revolution and continuing Islamization of Iran than the first and focused more on the challenges Marjane and other young women faced as women under the new rule from the stricter veiling and gender segregation to the lack of freedom of mobility and education for women and mandatory military service for young men.
I flew through this book and will need to read it again to savor more of the story. When I say I flew, I mean I read it in just over an hour. I read every bit of it and even glorified in the illustration a few times, but I’m moving on to Persepolis 2: The Story of a Return.
I’ve wanted to see the film adaptation for a long time, but I never got around to seeing it. I’ve seen previews for it on many of the other films I’ve watched but I never took the initiative to seek out the film. So when our books into movies book group started to discuss a graphic novel I put this one out there and we selected it! I’m very glad I did and I’m still super excited about seeing the film. I believe the film encompasses both volumes of the story, but I won’t know until I watch it. I’m reading both volumes as if you remember I picked them up for helping out at the local library book sale.
After my amazing luck with John Boyne’s The Absolutist last year, I decided to always keep an eye on Other Press releases and I’m glad I did. I requested a copy of this book directly from the publisher and I quite enjoyed it. This is my honest response and I received nothing in return.
To start, I’d like to say that the only other review on Goodreads is worthless (to me, at least). Why bother reviewing a book if that’s all you’re going to say? The person has, in essence, re-written the synopsis of the novel (on the back cover), without any additional insight or synthesis and it came across as snide to me. If you didn’t want to read “frothy froth about rich French people and their angst,” then why’d you read it? It never pretended to be anything else and that’s why I appreciated this novel. It’s times like this when I wish I could give half stars on Goodreads because it’s not quite what I would consider 5 stars, but not quite as low as 4 stars. Now on to my response.
This novel is everything that it claims to be, an amusing inside look at the codes, manners, and morals of high society, and it’s nothing more.So if you don’t want to read a comedy of manners, then don’t. It’s sort of what I imagine Austen’s works were like when they were first published and reactions were similar to the Goodreads reviewer’s.
As I mentioned earlier I decided to bump this higher on my list as I missed a trivia question and realized how woefully lacking French literature (Classic) is from my lists and my life.
Having finished it, I’m not quite so sure it was a bad thing French literature was missing from my life. There were parts of the novel I really enjoyed, the romance, the passion, but there were parts that dredged on and definitely left me wishing Flaubert was a more concise writer.
This is of course the story of Madame Bovary (Emma – my trivia question was ‘ In which novel by Gustave Flaubert is Emma the protagonist?’) and her fall from grace. I would say it’s a story of lessons—Don’t live beyond your means; Believe in love, and don’t give into lust; and Never stop dreaming, but know where the line between dream and reality is. We follow Charles Bovary from his time as a young school boy through to his education and his first wife. His first wife dies and he eventually marries Emma, and the rest of the story is about their love (or lack thereof) and Emma’s search for extramarital love/life. The ending is sad, but poignant.