Saturday, March 31, 2012

Circumlocution--the office is open

Dear Friends-and-relations and other Barnacle Types,
         Long has it been a standing rule that one cannot come into the Circumlocution office wanting to know, you know, but that is about to change. It seemed to me and my inner editor and everyone else concerned that there was, perhaps, something you did not yet Know about me that you wished To Know. I do not approve of mysteriousness. I could not be mysterious to save my life, and though I hear the gentleman like a good enigma, I fall woefully depleted in the face of anything Sherlockian. I have to rely on my odds and ends of wit to carry me through.
But I digress. You may therefore leave a comment asking me one or two or three or a dozen questions if you like, and I shall answer them all! Tally-ho and all that rot!
                        I am your 'umble,

Friday, March 30, 2012

Your Daily Dose of Genius... :)

I have just begun reading P.G. Wodehouse's Thank you, Jeeves. Long had I heard about this character, Jeeves, and yet I knew nothing about him. I had heard about Bertram Wooster, of course, in Something Fresh, but sadly no Jeeves. Then I went online with a dubious expression on my face to see if our library system might have any hint of Wodehouse about it. They did. They had rather a lot of Wodehouse about them. I was very happy.
 I am proud to say that I have found another favorite author in P.G. Wodehouse. There is something about his writing that fires my brain. It doesn't pen-slay me--it's too light and laughing for that--but it inspires me and eggs me on and makes me want to sit down and write brilliant characters who have such hilarious misadventures. :) The author also has an uncanny ability to describe things in his dry, British way so that I routinely laugh aloud. Cricket was staring in a "Good grief!" way this morning as I read over a hilarious scene and chuckled to myself. He is so original he leaves me breathless and marveling. I could sit there laughing like a loon for hours...and I do. :D Here's what I mean:

"She looked as if she had been poured into her clothes and had forgotten to say 'when.'"


"She gave me the sort of look she would have given a leper she wasn't fond of."


"I could see that, if not actually disgruntled, he was far from being gruntled." <--that is pure genius in my book.

"The least thing upset him on the links. He missed short putts because of the uproar of the butterflies in the adjoining meadow." 


“What ho!" I said. 
"What ho!" said Motty. 
"What ho! What ho!" 
"What ho! What ho! What ho!" 
After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation.”

“There are moments, Jeeves, when one asks oneself, 'Do trousers matter?'" "The mood will pass, sir.”

“Lady Glossip: Mr. Wooster, how would you support a wife? Bertie Wooster: Well, I suppose it depends on who's wife it was, a little gentle pressure beneath the elbow while crossing a busy street usually fits the bill.”

“The drowsy stillness of the afternoon was shattered by what sounded to his strained senses like G.K. Chesterton falling on a sheet of tin.” 

If that did not cause you to snort, chuckle, laugh, or guffaw, I'm afraid it's all up with you--you must have swallowed your sense of humor by mistake when you thought it was your clumpy oatmeal. Do go fetch a doctor to examine you. I am much worried by your symptoms. ;)

Thursday, March 29, 2012

"It's my Hundred-and-Elevendieth Birthday!" ;)

I generally don't go in for the whole tag-business, but when I was tagged by The Anne-Girl, with an "11-themed" tag, it looked like so much fun that I thought I'd go ahead and do it. :) Without further ado:

We begin with 11 random things about myself:

  1.  I do not like breakfast food
  2. I wish I had deeply rich, red hair
  3.  I am of rabid animals (And the possibility of a rabid mosquito. O.o)
  4. I get the shivers when I walk on top of spilled sugar
  5.  Blogger and I are not on speaking terms at present
  6. I am periodically seized with what Mr. Woodhouse calls "wander-lust" and I feel that I'll split if I don't travel somewhere.
  7.  I nickname all the guys on my cousin's baseball team...let's see. There's "Peter Pan," "Goatee Man," "The Duckling," "Jesse" "Ernest T"...yeah. :D
  8. I speak all my most serious, innermost thoughts in a British accent.
  9.  I have an extreme aversion to all things that remotely resemble Summer Heat
  10. I have Dutch Royalty and Davy Crockett in my blood. Oh yeah. :)
  11. I have queer sympathies with characters everyone else hates...Frank Churchill, anyone?

Now I get to answer the 11 questions from the Anne-Girl!

1. Who is your favorite animated character from a movie?
Oh my! I think I'd have to say Flounder or Scuttle from The Little Mermaid. :D (I hadn't seen that movie in like....12 years or something and watched it again recently and it is so ridiculous! But I used to be in love in Prince Erik.)

2. If you could have any part on a Broadway show, what would it be?
This opens up so many parts... (and assuming I had a Broadway-worthy voice...) But I'd have to say either Galinda of Wicked, Laurie of Oklahoma! or Eponine of Les Miserables.Or Mary Poppins. :D

3. Describe your ideal villain:
Can a villain be ideal? Okay. Then Cold, Cruel, Handsome, Scheming, inordinately brilliant.

4. What is your favorite non-Austen period drama?
Either North and South or The Young Victoria.

5. Who is your favorite literary role-model?
Hrm....either Esther Summerson or Amy Dorrit--both from Charles Dickens' books.

6. Do you have a least favorite hero?
Marius Pontmercy of Les Miz. I think he was supposed to be a hero and I kept wondering why.

7. Are you compulsively clean or comfortably messy?
A happy medium between the two.

8. How do you drink your coffee?
Plenty of cream and honey. :)

9. Do you ever read the last page first?
Never. That is sacrilege.

10. P&P '95 or '05?
'95 as far as casting, integrity of the story, over-all-ness, but '05 for film quality and soundtrack.

11. What is your favorite Broadway song?
 Oh dear. I really can't choose just one, but I'll leave it at select songs from Oklahoma, Wicked, Phantom, Les Miz and Fiddler.

Now I make up 11 questions of my own for y'all...

  1. What is your favorite flavor of jellybean?
  2. Dancing in the rain or walking with an umbrella?
  3. Pens or Pencils?
  4. Shoes or bare-feet?
  5. Hammock or tree-house?
  6. Ideal summer day: Describe it.
  7. If you could look a certain way, what would it be?
  8. Would you ever get a haircut above your shoulders?
  9. Funniest person of your acquaintance:
  10. Do you like chunks of stuff in your ice-cream?
  11.  Mint and Chocolate or Cherries and Chocolate?

And lastly I tag some friends.  :)

Abigail Taylor
Elizabeth Rose
Miss Georgiana Darcy
Felicity Deverell
Rachel Hope

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Inkpen Poetry Day: "Ink-Spatters"

By Rachel Heffington

I'm a poetess, an authoress, a gal of story-tell
And I haven't all the fashion of a perfect Southern Belle
And I mayn't be the prettiest or smartest in the land
But I've got a world inside a world inside of my right hand.

Oh I've only got to grasp a pen and all my dreams spill out
Like a tea-pot with an inky-rinky-dinky sort of spout.
I have children by the droves and a husband with a nib
And my baby wears an inky-spotted, blotting-sanded bib.

I am Queen and I am regent, I am rogue and I am cad
And these tumble out my finger-tips onto a paper pad.
Yes I wield enormous power over characters and plot
And my duties: they are many,  and my worries: they're a lot.

But I wouldn't change a bit of it--no, not a single line
For I think that being Authoress is really rather fine.
So I'll keep my ink and paper and my ratchy-scratchy pen
And I'll scribble out my stories till I come upon The End.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is that all you blighters can do?

After pushing hard to finish my W.I.P. all through the early part of this year, I am enjoying giving myself a break from writing for a couple of weeks. I have letters that I need to reply to and books that have been waiting for a quieter season to be read. I intend to do all that for a little while (I know I will not have the discipline for it to be more than two weeks tops) and I am indulging in smile-flavored sentiments of this category:

"Show Me" from My Fair Lady

(And yes, I am agreeing with this song in a very tongue-in-cheek manner)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The Scarlet-Gypsy Song--a last hurrah!

As a sort of Last Hurrah for The Scarlet-Gypsy Song, I thought I would give you some of my favorite bits from the past few weeks. I've been writing like mad--Thursday I wrote over 4,000 words. Enjoy these last few pretties from my dark-haired child! :)
Darby squeezed his fists where they were tied behind his back, feeling that somehow it helped him to think clearer. A clumsy movement beside him brought round a faint hope. Peter Quickenhelm! If Darby could only get Peter to be the object of the panther’s attention for a moment, he might have a chance to slip away. After all, wasn’t it a well-known zoological fact that panthers would stop and gobble whatever you dropped behind you? At least that’s how they told it in the books—that’s why people escaping from panthers often arrived to safety wearing no shoes or hat or jacket or—sometimes—anything at all. Yes. It was an applauded tactic in the old world. Perhaps beasts were similar here.
Darby drove his heel into Peter’s side—hard.
Darby took this to mean “what’s the matter” and since it also meant that Peter had regained consciousness, he smiled to himself and kicked again.
-The Scarlet-Gypsy Song

Adoniram—you simply can’t be letting Darby and Bertram go to battle—you can’t. It’s…it’s…indecent! If it was happening in London someone would call the Agency.”
The pen stopped. The head rose. The eyes glared. “My love—it is not happening in London. There has not been a battle in the streets of the Capital since the time of your grandfather. Therefore, I would greatly appreciate your silence and a cup of tea. Miss Woodruff—er, Lady Cecelia. Would you be so good as to teach my wife the proper way to do it?”
Mrs. Macefield fluffed her skirt and pursed her lips. “I am certainly capable of making a cup of tea, Adoniram.”
“Doubtless. Nevertheless, the need of tea is imminent and one or the other of you must make it, or I’m afraid the boys will be done for. You’ve no idea what a horrid business it is, writing a battle. I’ve no more idea of what happens in a battle than…than a cockroach does! There are only so many synonyms for ‘hack’ and ‘thrust’ and ‘parry,’ you know. They’ve been hacking and thrusting and parrying for several chapters now and I feel quite exhausted for them.”

Diccon shifted and gave a smile that was both shy and roguish. “In faith, my little sister, you showed yourself a bit of a vixen.”
Adelaide laughed and curtsied with an arch pursing of her lips.  “A fox caught in a trap is never over-careful of her manners.

Darby hugged Diccon a bit tighter and shrugged. “I’m fine—I was just wondering if this daft plan would work.”
“Catching the panther in his lair, you mean?”
“Right.” Darby felt Diccon’s muscles rippling under his shirt, and it inspired him a bit of manly courage. “ ‘Course I’m not scared—I’d just think Growlbeard would be too smart for this sort of trick.”
Diccon laughed. “He is a clever beast, but a cat all the same—likes naps in the sunshine and doing his dirty deeds by night. Coming upon him like this in the full light of the morning—we’re like as not to catch him.

Darkness, punctured with the honey-gold globes of lamplight, filled the banqueting hall. Echoes of that feast before the battle still seemed to whisper in the corners, discussing this new, half-somber celebration. On the dais the King sat, Lord Diccon Quarry at his left hand—Captain Sparrow’s seat at his right empty, as is the custom when a beloved man has died. The Macefield children fanned out on either hand—even the babies—and waited in silence.
For it was silent in the hall—very silent, with a warm sense of expectation that was curiously in keeping with the gold-stitched gloaming of the hall. Lad, Dear-Heart, and Agnes waited like kindly wraiths in the deeper shadows at the end of the table.

Oh, Diccon,” she whispered to herself. She had not thought he was by. She had not meant for him to hear those sorrowful words, but his rough hand closed around hers a moment later and she looked up to see him beside her. He did not look at her, and he did not speak, but his hand held hers and she knew all was right.

Tears ran down Adelaide’s cheeks and blurred the sight of the king’s noble face, pooling it together with the shimmering, honey-colored globes. She tried to stop her tears but it was no use. This fierce ache was familiar somehow, and she had to weep. Why was it familiar? Adelaide could not say, but as she mused on the king’s words it came to her. He had said it was The End…this feeling was that of turning the last page of a splendid book, only magnified and heightened and altogether unbearable. Adelaide sobbed once, and it thrummed through the hush of the hall, startling her into silence again.
Diccon put his hand on her shoulder and squeezed it. He leaned over and put his mouth close to her ear. “There now, sister-mine. We are only parted by the cover of a book. When you miss me—or any of us—too too much, you have only to ask your father to read to you. I’ll be waiting there for you…there amongst the pages, and you will always be able to find me.” There was a catch in his voice, and when Adelaide wiped her own tears away she saw that Diccon’s jaw was set in a determined line and a lone tear glistened on his cheek as Jupiter or Mar glistens in a winter sky.

Gone was the dusk-dim light of the banquet hall. Gone were the honey-gold globes. Gone were Diccon and Dear-Heart and all the rest, and Adelaide saw she stood on the strangely familiar marble staircase of…home.

Friday, March 23, 2012

And so we part. :' )

It is finished. I have just completed The Scarlet-Gypsy Song! I am almost sorry to be done with this book--it is my favorite of all my "children". But I will not be dismal. It is a great triumph to have written a book in just 4 months, in my opinion. :) I also went past my goal-length, which was another triumph, and I had success with plotting and pacing! The last chapter might just be my favorite...I will say, the last chapter will probably make you cry. :P

So here are the Stats:

Clocked in at: 75,543 words
Chapters: 24
First line: "There was Nannykins to begin with, but she had a bad knee and left for the North."
Last line: "The End is rather a long way off, I think; we've only just come to the Once Upon a Time." :)  Favorite Character: Diccon Quarry--First Lord of the East Striding
Least Favorite Character: Dear-Heart, actually. She irritated me for some reason--she's rather a busy-body.

Needless to say, I am very happy today. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Beautiful People: Diccon Quarry and Adelaide Macefield

Slightly nabbed from Jenny. :P
In linking up with Beautiful People this month, I am a bit sad to say that this will probably be the last month dealing with my family from The Scarlet-Gypsy Song. The book is over 69,000 words as of today, the big battle has been fought, and all that is left is to wind up all my loose ends and get everyone back where they ought to be. This month's challenge has to do with two characters. They can be any two characters, only they must have a relationship with each other. The two people that immediately came to mind are Diccon Quarry and Adelaide Macefield. I had not known they would end up being with each other so much, but there you have it. Enjoy. 

1. Do they believe in anything that most people think is impossible?

Nothing impossible--Diccon is a very capable man, and he tends to think he  can handle everything, therefore nothing is impossible. Adelaide is an optimist, therefore she never thinks anything impossible either.

2. Are they strong, or the "damsel/knight in distress" sort?

A strange expression lit his eyes—half fierce, half curious, entirely determined.
“What? Why are you looking at me so?” Adelaide asked. She tossed the feather aside and watched it drift into the grass.
“I was only wondering,” Diccon said. He toyed with his knife, tossing and catching it as some children play with an India-rubber ball.
“Wondering what?”
“What you’d do if I captured you.”

Diccon does rescue Adelaide at one point, however Adelaide was in distress without being too...distressed over it. Diccon and Adelaide are both what are commonly called "strong spirits." Diccon is rough and clumsy with relationships, and yet he is good at heart. He doesn't know where is loyalty lies and it confuses him. Adelaide, however, is loyal to many people--she feels things passoinately. If she hates you, she hates you. If she loves you, she'd die for you.

3. Do they have a special place? (e.g. a corner in his/her bedroom, under a tree...)

Diccon's special place is in the fray of battle. He is in his element there, every fiber alive, every talent taxed and stretched and used to their height. I think he loses himself in the excitement and forgets his troubles--it is almost a drug with him.
Adelaide has no particularly special place at all--anywhere she is admired, I should think.

 4. What occupation do they have, or plan on having?

Adelaide's ambitions follow her whims. She has thought of being an actress, once upon a time, but she would be a house-maid if it would bring her the sort of admiration she craves.
Diccon wants to be an honorable man. That is all he covets.

5. Describe their current place of residence.

Diccon has no home at present. Adelaide is staying in the royal palace of Scarlettania...

Below lay a valley and in the valley a castle—turreted and towered, glistening in the wash of moonbeams as if it were made of sugar cubes.

6. Explain their last crisis. How had they changed when they came out of it?

Oy. Well, this is rather an interesting question, as Diccon and Adelaide are only together because of a crisis. You see, Adelaide and Dear-Heart had been kidnapped by a defector of the Scarlettanian army. He was going to sell them to Fitz-Hughes in exchange for protection for Scarlettania. Diccon happened upon the scene and rescued the girls. It is too late to return to the castle, so they spend the night at Diccon's camp--during the night, however, he begins to question how he ought to act...

        The warrior-blood of Diccon would not be at ease in the company of a Scarlettanian. True, for an hour that evening, he had thrown aside his tangled heritage—any thought of faithfulness to Gildnoir. But as the night deepened, so did the labyrinth of his mind and strange thoughts and stranger loyalties cavorted there in a ghoulish ring.
      Perhaps he owed it, not to Fitz-Hughes, but to his father, to be faithful to the Gildnoir. True, he had defected, but he could remedy that and do one last service. What would that service be?
       Diccon once again scooped a glance of Adelaide’s sleeping form and held it up to his mind’s eye: A daughter of Macefield—a pretty bird to keep in a pretty cage.
Diccon says as much to Adelaide--she confronts him, rebukes him, turns vixen, and bites him with her wit. In the end, the two are closer than ever--sibling-souls parted by two worlds.

 7. If they could drive any kind of car they wanted, what would it be?

Car? Come now--that's not fair. There are no cars in either London or Scarlettania at this point. The Authoress takes the liberty of deleting this question.

8. How do they deal with change?

They revel in it. Both Diccon and Adelaide crave adventure--the more change the better. They thrive on the unexpected.

9. If they had to amputate one body part, which one would they choose?

I will take Jenny's answer and say their left-hands. That would leave the right hand for proper sword-play.

10. What would their favorite be at the local coffee shop? 

Diccon would drink his brew black. Adelaide pours an embarrassing amount of sugar in her cup, then licks it clean for good measure.

11.  How did they meet?

In that first crisis:

Thank you, kind sir.” The merry, sweet voice behind Diccon startled him—he’d nearly forgot about the women-folk.
He turned about and smiled. “No trouble at all, my lady. I was merely passing this way. And may I have the honor of knowing whom I rescued?”
The girl curtsied, and he saw that she was very young. “Adelaide Macefield, and my companion, Dear-Heart.”
Diccon drew a deep breath through his teeth. A daughter of Macefield! By all the blood of Clan Fitz-Hughes, it was unexpected. So she was one of those whom Growlbeard had told him of. Diccon felt a strange sense of fear, as if he looked upon a goddess in the form of this tall, comely girl with the bluff voice. He crossed his left arm over his chest and extended his first two fingers, then bowed in the style of his country.
Adelaide laughed and clapped her hands. “It was rather brilliant of you—saving us like that. Rather like watching the plays Darby and Bertram used to put on. Hamlet was our favorite, you know. It had the most smashing duel.” 

12. How do these two deal with conflict?

The same way they deal with any other crisis: Expertly. They are not ones to be worked upon my surprise--dull, everyday monotony is what would affect them most.

13. Do they have a special song, phrase, item, or place? 

Not particularly. Unless you count the Scarlet-Gypsy Song which was rather important in Adelaide's life, at least.

14. What kind of things do they like to do together?

Haha! Escape...rescue...ride like the devil toward battle... :)

5. Describe their relationship as a whole in 3 words or less.

Loyal. Fraternal. Clumsy-tender.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Something Fresh: My new love affair with Wodehouse. :)

I love P.G. Wodehouse. A friend brought me Something Fresh to read when she came up, and I devoured it in an evening and a morning. I am now a sworn Wodehouse fan (despite how stupid I sound walking about saying "Wodehouse" as if I was Lady Cumnor in Wives and Daughters: "She expwesses hewself vewy fwankly, Cwaire." :P) Something Fresh was the first of the Blandings Castle books and it was enough to convince me that P.G. Wodehouse is now a favorite author of mine. There is an indescribable something or other about him that resonates with me and makes me want to see if our abominable library has anything of Jeeves about it. Toodles! I'm going to see a Broadway show this evening! (*eeep!*) Not on Broadway of course, but it is one of the traveling set, and my uncle is playing 60 (yes, count them) percussion instruments in it! :) I think that's something to feel a tidge of family pride in, eh? :) But I've got to get all my baking done before then so I'd better scat!

                "The Lining of my Stomach is not what the Lining of my Stomach ought to be."
 -Beach, the Butler

"What is a Black Wand of Death?"
-Ashe Marson <3

"What a dashed business!...and I was so dashed happy!"
-The Hon. Freddie Threepwood
(oh yes, I do love Wodehouse! :)

P.S. I discovered this morning (as I hit over 69,000 words in The Scarlet-Gypsy Song!) that a violent thunderstorm is just the right time to write a battle scene. :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Poem of War

Ever since I first read "Edinburgh After Flodden" in school, I have loved it. The rhythm of William E. Aytoun's poetry fascinated me and I would go about with the lines ringing through my mind all day long. It is not an overly famous poem (at least, not now) but it deserves more recognition than it has yet had. Herein I have presented my favorite bits. You can read the whole of the poem here.

NEWS of battle!—news of battle!
  Hark! ’tis ringing down the street:
And the archways and the pavement
  Bear the clang of hurrying feet.
News of battle? Who hath brought it?        5
  News of triumph? Who should bring
Tidings from our noble army,
  Greetings from our gallant King?
All last night we watched the beacons
  Blazing on the hills afar,        10
Each one bearing, as it kindled,
  Message of the opened war.
All night long the northern streamers
  Shot across the trembling sky:
Fearful lights, that never beckon        15
  Save when kings or heroes die

If that doesn't make you want to give your hand to king and country, you have not a single spark of patriotism.

For they see in battered harness        25
  Only one hard-stricken man,
And his weary steed is wounded,
  And his cheek is pale and wan.
Spearless hangs a bloody banner
  In his weak and drooping hand—

 Such a sad, beautiful description.This poem is full of ringing, poingant sorrow and yet a certain flavor of triumph. Here is one last bit to send you on your way...

“No one failed him! He is keeping        105
  Royal state and semblance still;
Knight and noble lie around him,
  Cold on Flodden’s fatal hill.
Of the brave and gallant-hearted,
  Whom ye sent with prayers away,        110
Not a single man departed
  From his monarch yesterday.
Had you seen them, O my masters!
  When the night began to fall,
And the English spearmen gathered        115
  Round a grim and ghastly wall!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Les Miz--my thoughts in total

I finished reading the 1463-page Les Miserables on Friday night amid the undignified noise of my family watching National Treasure. :D As I put down the book in triumph, having read the last words, I was overwhelmed with a sense of "That was a good book." The sensation rather surprised me, for I had not expected to like it as I did.

Les Miserables is Victor Hugo's tale of Poverty, Misery, Justification, Salvation, Good, and Evil, Patriotism, and reams of other themes. Set against the backdrop of post-French Revolution/ post-Napoleonic era, it is full of politics and social commentaries as well as a thriving plot. The main characters are an ex-convict Jean Valjean, his pseudo-daughter, Cosette, a young lawyer, Marius, a relentless lawman, Javert, and a nasty ex-inkeeper and thriving crook, Thenardier. There are many other side-characters who, at times, play almost as much of a part as the ones I labeled "mains." Among these are Fantine, (Cosette's mother--a poor young woman driven to prostitution from misery and the demands of the Thenaridiers) Eponine, (Thenardier's daughter) Gavroche, (a plucky Paris gamin) and Enjolras (a passionate Revolutionist). For fear of giving too much away, I won't go into details of this plot, only tell you that it was exciting, complicated, and satisfying at the end, though quite sad.

As I already mentioned in another post, the biggest con in this book for me was the clumsy way Victor Hugo mashed his politics and people. I will only briefly mention that in this post, as you are quite welcome to hop over to the other post and read all about it there. :) I am a purist and I made myself read the unabridged version of Les Miz. However, I have heard from several sources that the abridged versions (which are still 800+ pages) nix most of the lecturing and leave you with the story. If you are not dead-set against abridged versions of books, I would recommend you read one of those copies. I found that Hugo left his plot in the most intense moments to lecture on random things. I mean, when ****Plot Spoiler*** Jean Valjean is carrying Marius half-dead away from the barricade, Hugo broke off and started lecturing on the histories of the sewers of Paris, leaving Marius bleeding. I mean, really? ***End of Plot Spoiler***

Plot: The plot of Les Miz was intense and fabulous. I really ended up liking it far more than I thought I would. There is just enough romance, just enough valour, just enough passion, just enough politics to make it a riveting story. Here, Hugo did his fame justice.The writing, as well, is very polished, very thorough, and beautiful. In technicalities, Hugo was a genius. His words flow nicely--very nicely indeed.

Characters: But I think Hugo's main claim to fortune has to be the strength of his characters....actually, the strength of his side-characters. You see, I really didn't like Marius all that much. I found him to be a tad bland, a tad resentful, a tad moony. He just isn't my kind of guy. Cosette was better, but still had a Rowena-like aura about her that made me want to shake her up and see if she'd say something clever for once in her life.
But those side-characters! Hugo obviously went by the rule that whoever was in his book, be it only for a few paragraphs, must shine. And they did. So much so that ***Plot Spoiler*** by the time Enjolras, Gavroche, Eponine, Coureyfac, and all the others died at the barricade, I was nearly crying. The scenes they had played, had been played to perfection, and I could sniffle over their deaths admirably. ***End of Plot Spoiler***

The last third of the book is chock-full of valiant conversation and quite makes you burn with pride for all these noble men going to their death:
"What a pity!" said Combeferre. "What a hideous thing these bloodbaths are! I'm sure, when there are no more kings, there will be no more war. Enjolras, you're aiming at that sergeant, you're not looking at him. Just think that he's a charming young man; he's intrepid; you can see that he's a thinker; these young artillerymen are well educated; he has a father, a mother, a family; he's in love, probably; he's 25 at most; he might be your brother." "He is," said Enjolras. "Yes," said Combeferre, "and mine, too. Well, don't let's kill him." "Leave me alone. We must do what we must." And a tear rolled slowly down Enjolras's marble cheek. (pg. 1200)
And another:
The sight was appalling and fascinating. Gavroche under fire, was mocking the firing. He seemed to be very much amused. It was the sparrow pecking at the hunters...The barricade was trembling; he was singing. It was not a child; it was not a man; it was a strange mystic gamin, the invulnerable dwarf of the mêlée.(pg. 1217)

Conclusion: Les Miserables is a book well-worth reading, if you've got the guts. It is not for the faint of heart. It is not, on occasion, for the faint of stomach. Your heart will be wrung in several places, you'll wish to hurl the book across the room in several places, you'll want to slap people in several places, but at the end you will do as I did, lay the book aside with a reverent hand and glowing inside, whisper to yourself, "That was a good book. Well done indeed."

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Best of the Bits:

“The power of a glance has been so much abused in love stories, that it has come to be disbelieved in. Few people dare now to say that two beings have fallen in love because they have looked at each other. Yet it is in this way that love begins, and in this way only.” 
 ***Sobs and plot spoiler***

 “Promise to give me a kiss on my brow when I am dead. --I shall feel it."

She dropped her head again on Marius' knees, and her eyelids closed. He thought the poor soul had departed. Eponine remained motionless. All at once, at the very moment when Marius fancied her asleep forever, she slowly opened her eyes in which appeared the sombre profundity of death, and said to him in a tone whose sweetness seemed already to proceed from another world:--

"And by the way, Monsieur Marius, I believe that I was a little bit in love with you.” 

***End of Plot Spoiler***
“Before him he saw two roads, both equally straight; but he did see two; and that terrified him--he who had never in his life known anything but one straight line. And, bitter anguish, these two roads were contradictory.”
“Do you hear the people sing
Lost in the valley of the night?
It is the music of a people
Who are climbing to the light.

For the wretched of the earth
There is a flame that never dies.
Even the darkest night will end
And the sun will rise.”  
“There is a determined though unseen bravery that defends itself foot by foot in the darkness against the fatal invasions of necessity and dishonesty. Noble and mysterious triumphs that no eye sees, and no fame rewards, and no flourish of triumph salutes. Life, misfortunes, isolation, abandonment, poverty, are battlefields that have their heroes; obscure heroes, sometimes greater than the illustrious heroes.” 
 There were more...this is a very quotable author, but I will leave you now! I hope I gave you a fairly good idea of what I thought of Les Miserables, and that this review will be helpful to you. :) For a long time I've love the music from the Broadway version of the story, and I can't wait to see it now that I've read the book!