Wednesday 17 October 2018

Book Review: The Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo (Classics)

Title: The Toilers of the Sea
Author: Victor Hugo
Modern Library

Publication Date: 2002 (1866)
Bought Copy


A new translation by Scot James Hogarth for the first unabridged English edition of the novel, which tells the story of a reculsive fisherman from the Channel Islands who must free a ship that has run aground in order to win the hand of the woman he loves, a shipowner's daughter.

I am a huge Victor Hugo fan, and The Toilers of the Sea was the last of his major novels I had yet to read. Simply put, I loved it. As always, Hugo's characters sprang to life on the page. His expression of thoughts and feelings was as beautiful as always, as was his depictions of the sea and Guernsey. Being a Hugo novel, the ending was far from a universal HEA. However, it was somehow satisfying despite that sadness, and I was a little in love with Gilliatt by the time I turned the last page. The book also included a classic Hugo digression, with the first fifty pages being a history of the Channel Islands. While this information was interesting, you could miss it and jump straight to the commencement of the story proper, if you find it dull. Generally with Hugo's works, I read the digressions (such as the Battle of Waterloo section in Les Misérables) the first time, but then skip them on rereads. I highly recommend this work for Hugo fans.

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