Les Misérables


Vol. 1 Books 3 to 8

Summary: Volume 1/ Book Three

It is now 1817, about two years after we have left Jean Valjean kneeling on the Bishop’s doorstep. In this book, the narrator turns to Paris and the story of a beautiful orphan girl named Fantine. With no family and no money, the teenage girl has come to Paris to make her way, and has fallen in love with a charming but arrogant bourgeois university student named Tholomyes. The city is full of men like Tholomyes, privileged young students who carelessly strike up temporary flings with women from the lower classes, women they would never marry. Fantine, in her innocence, does not understand this as well as her three older, more experienced girlfriends, who are each engaged in similar relationships with three friends of Tholomyes’s.

For a time, the four young couples meet often, enjoying the pleasures of the city. One day, Tholomyes proposes to his friends that they plan a special outing for their mistresses. The outing begins early in the morning, with breakfast, and the couples ramble around happily all day long. By evening, they are dining in a restaurant, with the young men growing progressively drunker and more bombastic. After dinner, the men announce to Fantine and her friends that they must leave in order to prepare a final surprise for them. An hour later, a hotel porter brings a note to the girls—signed by each of the four young men—explaining, callously, that they have all decided to return to their families and can no longer carry on their affairs with the young women. Fantine’s friends, who had no real affection for their respective boyfriends, accept this turn of events with humor. Fantine, however, is crushed. Alone in her room, she breaks down weeping, because she is pregnant and has now been abandoned.

Summary: Volume 1/ Book Four

Fantine now has a daughter, Cosette, who is nearly three years old. Struggling to keep her child healthy and fed, Fantine decides to leave Paris and find work in her home village of M. sur M. However, she is...

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