A Little in Love by Susan Fletcher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Ok, I admit it - I didn't read Les Misérables. My French is lousy, and - well, I haven't even attempted to read it in English. That book is like a brick, and I already have a beloved brick-like classic translated from the French (The Count of Monte Cristo). I saw the Hugh Jackman movie, though. I may not have caught all the finer plot points, but I think I got the gist. Overall I enjoyed the opera more than I thought I would.
I knew nothing about the background of Eponine. I knew she was a tragic heroine whose love for our hero, Marius, was destined to go unrequited. I felt bad for Eponine.
So, when the opportunity to read an adaptation that starred the unfortunate teenager as the heroine of her own story, I took that opportunity. I really enjoyed this book, even with my sketchy knowledge of Victor Hugo's original.
Susan Fletcher has done a really nice job of imagining Eponine's world. Through Eponine's voice, she gives us a lot of sensory details about what it must have been like to be a poor woman in 1830s France.
Eponine clearly knows the difference between right and wrong, and most often she chooses to do what is right. Sometimes, though, she goes along with her family's unfortunate habits of lying, cheating, and stealing. She treats her would-be friend, Cosette, quite horribly when they are small children. When they are teens on the verge of adulthood, Eponine is indirectly responsible for Cosette's beloved foster father, Jean Valjean, being gravely wounded.
Determined to reclaim her own soul, Eponine uses her intelligence and kindness to protect Cosette. This is especially painful since Cosette and Eponine are both in love with the same man. But in order for Cosette and Marius to get their happy ending - frankly, one of the only redeeming plotlines in this tale of misery and woe - Eponine has to make a sad, sad sacrifice. This isn't really a spoiler, since we know from the first page of the novel that Eponine is dying because she saved Marius's life.
The ending isn't as sad as it could have been, though. As far as Eponine knows, her little brother Gavroche is still alive. In the opera, Gavroche dies too.
Eponine in this novel is a fully developed, well-rounded character who isn't entirely good and isn't entirely bad. She's a person, with a past and interesting point of view. She's definitely well worth reading about, and Fletcher has written a narrative that flows smoothly and seems authentic. I read this in four short sittings. It's quite fast-paced.
FYI, there are some non-explicit threats of sexual assault in this novel. Readers who are sensitive to this type of content should be aware before reading it.
I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review through the Amazon Vine program.
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