In the vaulted Gothic towers of Notre-Dame lives Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bellringer. Mocked and shunned for his appearance, he is pitied only by Esmerelda, a beautiful gypsy dancer to whom he becomes completely devoted. Esmerelda, however, has also attracted the attention of the sinister archdeacon Claude Frollo, and when she rejects his lecherous approaches, Frollo hatches a plot to destroy her that only Quasimodo can prevent. Victor Hugo’s sensational, evocative novel brings life to the medieval Paris he loved, and mourns its passing in one of the greatest historical romances of the nineteenth century.
Like Frankenstein and Dracula, this is a book that has entered the public consciousness and doesn’t need to be read to know the story…Disney has a lot to answer for with its rendering of Hugo’s classic.
Set in Paris in 1482, the journey Hugo takes us along is one of powerful raw emotions: love, hate, prejudice, revenge, lust, redemption and vanity and that is just to scratch the surface. The powerful nature of the many conflicting aspects of human nature allow the reader to recognise the best and worst of humanity, which makes for a riveting read, it really is drama at its purest.
There is so much content crammed into the story, it’s not a pure narrative of events but sprawling with plenty of lavish and lengthy digressions of rich architectural detail, which will either infuriate or captivate. If great masses of prose describing the details of buildings put you off then skipping them to keep the story flowing is still extremely worthwhile but for me the extra details just build up the rich world that the characters live in. It adds to the world, it paints a picture of the time and place and makes for a more rounded reading experience. Read the rest of this entry »