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.
This was an astoundingly beautiful novel and the more I think on and reflect about it, the more I probably should bump it up to five stars on Goodreads rather than just four, but as I think those are mostly arbitrary I doubt I will do it. The ending, although, beautiful, was just a bit lackluster to me. This some how marred the overall beauty of the novel, even though the only thing it really did wrong was not give me the satisfying ending that I wanted.
For once, I’m going to say something great about a Goodreads review. Shocking, I know. When I went to mark this book off my list and to see how others rated it after I gave my rating, I happened to check out the first few reviews and the first review nailed my thoughts on this book with his first sentence:
“The Detour (or Ten White Geese as it is published in the US) is an extremely difficult book to review; instead, it is one that the reader must experience directly, yielding to its ebbs and flows, its offerings and its closures.”
The rest of his short review is also fantastic, so you should go check it out here.
I’m not sure about the rest of you, but in High School, one of my AP literature courses required that we learn a portion of the prologue in Middle English. Now rather than delight you all with a ridiculous video of me reciting it (I can still do the first 10-15 lines or so from memory), you’ll just have to use your imagination.
I’m glad I revisited this as part of my Back to the Classics, Classics Club and Mount TBR challenges. The only part I actually recall reading in class was the prologue. I remember discussing a few of the tales, but we never actually had to read them which I think is strange. Before I start to sound too impressive I did read a translated version (with the Middle English on the facing page – see photo below) and this was not the complete collection. This version of the book only contained eight of the 24 completed tales in addition to the general prologue. Just from a brief glance here, they appear to be the longer/most completed of the Tales. If Chaucer completed the collection it would contain 120 tales two for each person, one to Canterbury and one on the return so I only really read a third of the completed tales and 20% of what would have been the complete collection. Click here to continue reading.