Victor Hugo is a master. I remember reading this book during a college break while I was living in Boston. Wow, did it have an impact on me. It’s a story of hope. And mercy. Redemption. And understanding. Of all the characters I think I was most impressed with the Bishop. A character Hugo spends a great deal of time describing how he earnestly cares for others. He relinquishes a sizable salary to serve the people. His only indulgence is their fine silverware. When the Bishop welcomes Jean Valjean, a man freshly released from prison, to his home temptation gets the better of the ex-con. He steals the silver and runs away. When he’s apprehended the next day and brought before the Bishop Valjean tells the police the silver was a gift. The bishop is now left with a choice. One word from him and Valjean returns (rightfully) to prison. But the Bishop sees something else in him. A spark of something better. The Bishop lies to the police telling them the story is true and then asks Valjean why he didn’t take the candlesticks too as they were part of that gift. Valjean is astounded. The police leave and the Bishop tells him, “Do not forget, ever, that you have promised me to use this silver to become an honest man.” Hugo writes: Jean Valjean, who had no recollection of any such promise, stood dumbfounded. “Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul I am buying for you… and I give it to God.”
And thus begins an epic journey of hope and understanding.
But as amazing as the book is, the music is equally incredible. If you haven’t had a chance to see the musical performed, you’re missing out on one of life’s great stories. I’m excited that our high school is performing this great play. And even more excited that one of my daughters is one of the lead characters. I was privileged to capture some images from their dress rehearsal. Check them out.
And check out the music, the novel, and the soon-to-be-released movie. Serious life-changer stuff.