If I were being totally honest I’d say I don’t want you to even think about reading this book. It’s too big. I’m worried that you’ll ignore Twitter and forget to update Facebook. You might even switch off the internet entirely. Worst of all, you won’t have time to read my slim, svelte, economical masterpieces. Seriously, you could fit my entire oeuvre into Hugo’s first few chapters.
It may be free on Kindle, but think of the human cost. Think of the – in Hugo’s own words – “social asphyxia.” Yes, I’m serious. Rather than saving the world from social asphyxia, this book could cause it.
Look, there’s a film version that has just been released. Save your time. Watch the film. It has songs in it. It’s been tipped to win at least eight oscars already.
Besides, the book is a mess. It’s impossible to summarise. The plot is bursting at the seams with minor characters. It’s a bloated melodrama that hopes, by bringing a tear to your eye, to change the world.
We all know that’s not going to happen. Wars, greed, corruption, poverty and the degradation of our fellows will go on just the same. Literature can’t solve the world’s problems. Certainly, hiding away in your bedroom and immersing yourself in this sentimental, rambling epic for three months won’t help anybody.
Watch the film. And if you still crave literature, try Muriel Spark.