Sunday, 26 November 2017

Les Misérables: a book, a musical, a movie, and what it means to me

Me hugging Les Misérables, because hugging your favourite books is good for the soul.

Hello, beautiful people!

As you probably already know, I am completely obsessed with Les Misérables by Victor Hugo, as well as the musical and its movie adaptation. I had read the abridged version of the book when I was twelve and absolutely loved it, but this year, I decided it was time to read the unabridged version. I finally did so this month, and I fell in love with it all over again, except that it's even more powerful than it used to be. Today, I just wanted to talk to you about my story with Les Misérables (it's been thirteen years in the making. yup.) and to try to tell you why I love it so much.

What is Les Misérables about?

Les Misérables is a French novel published by Victor Hugo in 1862 and it's really emblematic in French literature. It describes the lives of miserable people in 19th century France, both in Paris and the countryside, following more specifically Jean Valjean's life, a former convict.

My story with Les Misérables

I remember hearing about Les Misérables for the first time when I was about seven or eight. A teacher in elementary school once said 'Come on Cosette, go fetch us some water' as a joke, before explaining where the reference came from. For some reason, it always stayed in my mind, until I was twelve and had to read the abridged version for a class. We were supposed to read it for January or February, but once my parents bought me the book in October, I devoured it, stayed up way past my bedtime to read it, and became completely obsessed. My schoolmates complained a lot about having to read it, and I went through it twice. I fell in love with Victor Hugo's writing, the characters and the story. Now, as you probably already know, I'm French. What most of you don't know is that I come from the north of the country. The first book of Les Misérables is set there, most of it in Montreuil-sur-Mer (my actual hometown is the place where the fake Jean Valjean's trial takes place, it was fate). I've been to this town for as long as I can remember, walking along the battlements and the old castle. Every year, Montreuil-sur-Mer has a sound and light show, a sort of reenactment of Les Misérables, as part of the story is set there. I begged my parents to go the year I first read the book and they took one of my brothers and I. It was a very cold summer evening (it's the north of France, after all), but while I was freezing, seeing the characters alive in front of my eyes amazed me and I have such a fond memory of it. That's how I first became obsessed with Les Misérables.

As you can see, I definitely didn't know about the musical... Until they decided to adapt it into a movie. I saw a lot of gifs on Tumblr and decided to start listening to the songs, which I completely fell in love with. I didn't see the movie right away, because I'm not sure they showed it in my hometown or I had someone to watch it with me, and it was years until I finally did. I was already obsessed with Eddie Redmayne by then and you know... He's playing Marius' part in it (hence 60% of my love for Marius). Anyhow, I watched the movie and fell in love all over again (it was also a weird experience the first time, because I started watching it in a train with lots of noise...). I listened to the songs for months on end and I still listen to them at least once a week. 

Then, back in September... I saw the musical live in West End, in London. It was one of the best moments of my entire life and I cried most of the time, because it was a dream come true. I can't thank my boyfriend enough for buying us these tickets, I thought it would be way too expensive and didn't dare to dream going for at least a few years. Now, I'm planning on going back again and again, I know I'll never be tired of it.

Last but not least, this month, I read the unabridged version of the novel. While it's 1662 pages long... I read it in three days. I still don't know how. It is one of the best books I have ever read and it made it into my top 3 books of all times, without even needing to try. I'm already thinking about rereading it over and over again. After I finished it, I rewatched the movie again, have been listening to the songs on repeat again, and it's not going away anytime soon.

Why do I love Les Misérables so much?

Now, that is a complex question, because Les Misérables is a book, a musical, a movie, my entire life. I will never be able to do Victor Hugo's words justice, nor the musical's.

I love the book in all its complexity. I won't lie, it's not for everyone, because it has long descriptions, a lot of historical facts and it can seem boring sometimes (I guess?). Yet, I love history and being so engrossed in a book that I feel like I time-traveled in a different era. With Les Misérables, I time travel and for me, there aren't too many words, it's just fine. Hugo describes everything perfectly to give you a sense of what early 19th century France was like, of why these characters act like this or why the plot is going that way. He's always going back to give a backstory to his characters and because of that, they're perfectly developed. You all know how obsessed I am with Marius Pontmercy, and I feel like I know everything I need to know about him. He could have been a real person, for all I know. Victor Hugo's characters are perfectly fleshed-out, he shows you the good, all of the bad, he doesn't try to sugarcoat anything. I got something out of every character in this novel. Les Misérables is about the hardships of life, how you can make the right choices and yet seem all wrong in society's eyes, how you can still dare to hope and fight for your dreams, to be recognised and even if it didn't work, at least you tried (that last part isn't so happy but hey, it's life). Les Misérables is the story of a society that is still relevant today, a heart-breaking tale, an adventure, a sum of knowledge, a romance, and so much more. For me, you can't fit it in one genre (it's considered to be a historical, social and philosophical novel), unless you consider 'a literary masterpiece' as one.

One of the other reasons I love Les Misérables so much can seem pretty random, but it's relevant to my life. Like I told you, I come from the north of France, which always made the first part of the book important to me, because it was set home, in a way. For a long time, it was the part of the story I knew the most, I didn't know that much about Marius, or Cosette when she was older. Recently, it struck me. I moved to Paris for my studies, to begin my adult life, four and a half years ago. The second part of the novel is set in Paris, Cosette is older, like I was, in a way; the friends of the ABC meet in the Latin Quarter, so close to where I live. It might be one of the cheesiest things I have ever written, but the geography of Les Misérables is the geography of my life, somehow. This story will always be even closer to my heart for personal reasons I can't exactly explain, but it makes me love the book even more.

For me and many other people out there, Les Misérables also means the musical. I discovered it later, but it's a masterpiece on its own as well. All the songs are absolutely amazing and now that I've read the entire book, I can tell you that all the lyrics have twelve times more meanings than you might think. Every little thing is a reference to a detail of the book. Every time I listen to the songs, I discover a new one. The songs of the musical are moving, unforgettable and even iconic today. The musical has run continuously in London since October 1985, it's been thirty-two years and the theatre is still full whenever they play it. I first saw the musical as a movie and I love it with all my heart, but when I was about to see the musical on stage... I wondered how they would do it. Let me tell you that the staging is genius, the costumes, amazing, the actors, so talented. It's perfect. It's my favourite musical by far, and I'm a huge lover of musicals. I'm sure the musical will still run for a long time, and I know that I'll go back to see it as many times as I can.

I can't convey all of my thoughts into proper words, but I do love Les Misérables with my entire body, soul and heart (I'm being overdramatic, but I couldn't care less). It's a story that has been following me since my childhood and will never truly leave me. My words will never be able to do it justice, but at least, I tried. Writing this post was a cathartic experience for me, because I know that my words are stocked somewhere and that I will always be able to reread them. If you read this entire post, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your time means the world to me.

Lots of love,

Sunday, 19 November 2017

A love letter to Fantastic Beasts

Dear Fantastic Beasts movie,

A year ago today, I went to the movie theater to watch you. I didn't have any expectations. Not exactly. I had never been a fan of the additions to the Harry Potter franchise, and yet, I was curious of what they had done with the wizarding world.

I didn't see time pass. I was speechless. I fell in love with you (and yes, I know I'm in love with about a hundred things, but you know what I mean). You brought me so much and you became the movie of my soul.

When you think about it for two seconds, you have everything I need to fall in love with a movie. You have magic, a historical setting, Eddie Redmayne, gorgeous cinematography and a soundtrack I still listen to, after a year. I'm not even sure I need more in a movie.

You made me discover all those amazing creatures the wizarding world has to offer, and I'm already looking forward to see more of them in the next movies. If I had to pick a favourite, it would be Pickett, but it's no surprise... Newt Scamander is partial to this small cinnamon roll of a bowtruckle as well. You made me see the wizarding world in a new way: exploring beyond England, beyond Hogwarts, discovering new characters and a new society (I love the Roaring Twenties and their doubts about magic), and I left craving for more. I'm mad at you for having Johnny Depp, because it makes no sense to me, so I guess I'll do my best to ignore him, because while I wouldn't want to support him... There are other actors I want to support and they are in this movie (try to pretend you don't know who I'm actually talking about)(I'm losing my train of thoughts here)(wait now I remember)

Most of all, you made me discover Newt Scamander. I had always been curious about him, because he saw the whole wide world and so many amazing creatures, because he must have been so interesting, because his grandson married Luna Lovegood aka my favourite character in the Harry Potter series. Then, I saw him for real, and I fell in love (yes, again, I told you I was in love with a hundred things, duh). He's such a caring, selfless, generous wizard, he likes animals better than he likes humans, he's adorably awkward, he's a Hufflepuff, he's not the guy you'd expect to be the hero, and yet, he saves the day. He's one of these everyday heroes we can all aspire to be. Oh, and he's portrayed by my favourite actor, which helps as well. I loved all of the characters, but Newt Scamander won my heart.

I wish I could find all the right words to express my love for you, but I'm not sure I can do it the right way. You brought me so much into my life and you probably have no idea.

I need to thank you. I remember going through one of the worst days of my life, then deciding to go rewatch you... And it calmed me down. It pulled me away from reality and I felt at home, walking alongside the characters in the streets of New York. You saved me. I know you're a movie I can turn to when I feel like everything around me is crashing dow, when I'm sad, I know that you will always bring me happiness.

I'm already looking forward to rewatch you over and over again, just like I did in the past year (you're one of the movies I saw the most in my entire life and it's only been a year). More than that, I'm already looking forward to your sequels, even though I still have another year to wait. I'll try to be patient, because I know it will be worth it.

Lots of love,

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

TOP 5 // 20th century classics I want to read the most

Hello beautiful people!

For the last few months, I've read a lot of classics and I couldn't be happier, because I had put them on the side since high school, when I used to adore them. I have noticed that I'm naturally going towards 19th century literature, because that's the one I've always loved, but I would really like to discover more classics by exploring the 20th century. Actually, it will be one of my reading goals for 2018, but we'll talk about that in a few weeks. Long story short, this is why I made a list of the five 20th century classics I really want to read in the upcoming months, because I know it will motivate me to read them as soon as possible (it worked so much when I last did this in August). If you have any recommendations for 20th century literature that I should read, please let me know!

Howards End by E.M. Forster (1910)

I studied E.M. Forster a little in one of my English classes a few years ago, but have yet to read a book by him. All I know about this one is that it's about three middle-class families in the Edwardian era and I'm very curious to read more Edwardian authors (as I'm obsessed with Victorian literature, I need to move forward). Besides, there is an on-going TV series about this novel starring Hayley Atwell (it started last Sunday) and as I love her so much, I'm very motivated to finally read some E.M. Forster.

The Guermantes Way* by Marcel Proust (1920)

I read the first two books in the In Search of Lost Time series by Marcel Proust two years ago and absolutely adored them. Now, those books can be hard to read, because they're made of very long sentences and most of the time, you don't have any chapter to stop to (I hate stopping after a sentence and not having chapters, oops), which is why I've had that one on hold for more than a year. I have no idea where I stopped, so I'll have to start all over again. I'm so excited to read Marcel Proust again and that one in particular, because it will follow the narrator in aristocratic and literary salons in 19th century Paris (!!).

*Le Côté de Guermantes for me, as I'm reading it in French

To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927)

Virginia Woolf is one of those well-known authors I still haven't read anything by. I've been meaning to read her books forever, but she intimidates me a lot, for she's such an important literary figure! Mrs. Dalloway is probably her most popular one, but To the Lighthouse intrigues me a lot more. All I know is that it's about a family and that it's set on the isle of Skye. I don't need anything more and I'm looking forward to finally discover this author.

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1933)

I am fascinated by the jazz age and yet, I haven't read many books set during that time period. I read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald years ago and really enjoyed it, but never got around to read any of his other books. A few weeks ago, I met up with a bookstagram friend at Shakespeare and Co. and we talked about the Roaring Twenties, the Diviners and Francis Scott Fitzgerald; she ended up buying one of his books and it has stayed on my mind ever since. I really want to read Tender is the Night because it's his second most popular work and it's a tragic romance set in the late 1920s on the French Riviera. 

The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier (1969)

I couldn't write a post about 20th century literature without mentioning Daphne du Maurier, could I? I'm so obsessed with her books, I want to read them all. While, as we speak, I still haven't read Rebecca (because I saw the adaptation and still remember everything about it...), I read three of her books this year and absolutely loved them. The next one on my list is The House on the Strand, du Maurier's take on time travel and I couldn't be more excited because it is set in Cornwall (as always), involves a manor and the fourteenth century.

Lots of love,

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Retribution Rails by Erin Bowman // Book review

Hello, beautiful people!

It's been quite a while since I wrote any review on my blog, because let's be honest, reviews are the types of posts which get the less views (I'm guilty of not reading that many blog reviews as well, oops). However, I read an ARC of Retribution Rails a few months ago and as I absolutely adored it and it comes out today, I really wanted to talk to you all about it! Besides, I wrote a review for Vengeance Road, the first book in this companion duology, two years ago (!!), so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to start writing reviews again.

Retribution Rails (Vengeance Road #2) by Erin Bowman

Publication date: November 7th 2017 by HMH Books for Young Readers
Genres: young adult, historical fiction, adventure
Number of pages: 384


When Reece Murphy is forcibly dragged into the Rose Riders gang because of a mysterious gold coin in his possession, he vows to find the man who gave him the piece and turn him over to the gang in exchange for freedom. Never does he expect a lead to come from an aspiring female journalist. But when Reece's path crosses with Charlotte Vaughn after a botched train robbery and she mentions a promising rumor about a gunslinger from Prescott, it becomes apparent that she will be his ticket to freedom—or a noose. As the two manipulate each other for their own ends, past secrets are unearthed, reviving a decade-old quest for revenge that may be impossible to settle.

In this thrilling companion to Vengeance Road, dangerous alliances are formed, old friends meet new enemies, and the West is wilder than ever.


“So you can either be scared yer whole life or you can try to enjoy it. I suggest the latter. Otherwise yer gonna blink and find yerself old and weary, talking yer last breath and regretting that you passed yer years tense and worrisome.”

I received this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All the quotes used in this review might have changed in the final copy.

Before I actually start this review, here is the quote that might be enough to convince you to read it:
“Reece Murphy was a boy who became a man while riding with the devil.” 

From the first few pages, I fell in love with Retribution Rails. Truth be told, I hadn't read any summary of it, but as I loved Vengeance Road, I was confident I would enjoy it. What I hadn't expected was to fall in love with the story, to the point that I loved this companion novel even more. Once again, Erin Bowman did a lot of research to recreate the setting of that time, and I was transported all the way there, alongside the characters. 

It's been a long time since I read a book with two points of view, but I thought it was so well-done here. Sometimes, the characters take a long time to meet and you don't understand how they'll come together, but in this case, Charlotte and Reece's paths were intertwined from the first few pages and I loved how Erin Bowman did it. Reece was that boy who had been given no choice, who seemed to be a villain from the outside, when the truth was so much more complicated than that and the lines between right and wrong were blurred. On the other side, Charlotte was this badass girl through her words, who wanted to be a journalist and to be independent. Their backgrounds were so interesting and I liked that we still got subplots involving Charlotte's family, as the main plot drifted away from it. Their dynamics were so well-developed, because it started with prejudice, mistrust and fear, and it was so interesting to see them change their minds. Besides, old characters from Vengeance Road played an important role in Retribution Rails, I loved to see what they had become.

Now, when it comes to the plot, I loved how it was linked to the events taking place in Vengeance Road. The novel started as Reece and Charlotte's story, before the reader discover that the stakes are so much higher than that. Would I recommend you to read Vengeance Road before Retribution Rails? I do, because it's awesome and it makes a lot more sense when you have that background, but you can understand without having read it. In short: it's up to you. 

Anyhow, the plot was so gripping, I read this book in a few sittings and there weren't any dull moments. Retributions Rails is a page-turner with amazing action scenes and such an interesting historical background. Moreover, my feelings got all over the place. “Why would you do that to me?” Is all I ask. I'm sorry, but I need to recover from everything that happened in the end. I just need more from these characters and I'm totally up for another companion book (but sadly it won't happen)(please do it though), for I want to see everyone again.

Overall, this book was absolutely amazing and I loved it even more than Vengeance Road. I thought that the two points of view balanced the book perfectly, I was so attached to the characters that I don't really want to let them go (I'm still in denial) and the plot was so gripping. If you think you don't like historical fiction, please reconsider. Vengeance Road and Retribution Rails might change your mind.

That's all for me today, folks. Please let me know if you've read Vengeance Road or anything else by Erin Bowman, or even if you're planning on doing so!

Lots of love,

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

October 2017 wrap-up + favourites

Hello, beautiful people!

And just like that, October is over and we only have two months left of 2017. *gasps* October was a stressful month because uni started again for me at the end of September, but I'm satisfied with what I did, when it comes to studying, reading... and watching Gilmore Girls. For Gilmore Girls, I actually had to take a week long break from it because I had been watching the show way too fast, but now that we're in November, I shall binge-watch it once again.


  • The Diviners by Libba Bray (reread) 4/5 stars
  • Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon 4/5 stars
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde 5/5 stars
  • The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur 3/5 stars
  • A Different Blue by Amy Harmon 4/5 stars
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (reread) 5/5 stars
  • Two on a Tower by Thomas Hardy 4/5 stars
  • Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (reread) 5/5 stars
  • Gothic Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell 3.5/5 stars
  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao 4/5 stars
  • The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins 4/5 stars
  • Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell 5/5 stars
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker 4/5 stars

I had an amazing reading month, both in quality and quantity and it's all thanks to Victober. If you don't know, it's a readathon that takes place in October where you read Victorian literature. I loved it so much and I'm already excited to participate next year!


To be honest, I could talk about Les Misérables and Gilmore Girls again, but they both were in my favourites of last month already, so it wouldn't be really interesting. I also rewatched and loved the first season of Legion this month, but I already wrote an entire blog post about that, I'd rather read that if I were you! Now that I've said that, let's move on to my other favourites of the month.

TV SHOW // Victoria (season 2)

Victoria was my favourite TV show of 2016 and I was beyond happy when the second season aired recently. I (mostly) binge-watched it in October and I fell in love with this period drama all over again. I've always been obsessed with Victoria and Albert, and I absolutely loved how they are portrayed in the show (Jenna Coleman and Tom Hughes are both very attractive and have tons of chemistry, it helps as well) and to learn a bit more about them - even though many aspects are romanticized. I am very emotionally invested in the show and I was pleasantly surprised by some things that happened (even though my heart was broken not so long after... you know what I mean). Besides, as it was Victober, so it was the perfect month to watch it! If you love period dramas, I would highly recommend you this one!

MUSIC // Anastasia (the musical)

I really needed a change from Les Misérables (my obsession would become unhealthy otherwise), so this month, I discovered Anastasia, the new Broadway musical. It's inspired by the animated movie, with beloved songs such as Once Upon a December or Journey to the Past and I've been loving it. I've always found Russian history intriguing and I really want to read The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore now. I'm so looking forward to find a way to watch this musical, but in the meantime, the score is amazing!

TV SHOW // Stranger Things (season 2)

Well, you probably heard that the second season of Stranger Things aired on October 27th because it's all the Internet has been talking about, so it won't be a surprise if I talk about it. I watched the first season a while ago and absolutely fell in love with the show: the plot is addictive, the characters so relatable and I love that it's set in the 1980s. I was afraid I would be disappointed by the second season, but on the contrary: I grew even more attached to the characters and like everyone else, I loved Steve so much (as well as the rest of the gang, but it was so surprising for Steve!). I'm already looking forward to rewatch the second season (do we really have to wait until 2019 for season 3?) in the next year or so.

FOOD // Breakfast in America (Paris)

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably noticed that I posted food pictures for several Sunday mornings and it's all because of this place that I discovered in May. Breakfast in America is an American dinner in Paris (there are three of them) that serves breakfasts and brunches obviously, as well as burgers, chili con carne and so on. I've only ever been there for enormous breakfasts (veggie omelet with cheese or pancakes I can't even finish) and I really love this place. I would totally recommend it if you're in Paris to visit the city and need to eat a lot of food at once!

I hope you had a great month and read amazing books!

Lots of love,