Cosette: The Sequel to Les Miserables

Laura Kalpakian, Author HarperCollins Publishers $24 (652p) ISBN 978-0-06-017222-0
Kalpakian trades the intimate scale of her quirky Graced Land for the sprawl of a historical saga, picking up Victor Hugo's 1862 classic where it ended. Though named after Cosette, the adopted daughter of the indomitable Jean Valjean, this sequel shines the spotlight equally on the now-grown-and-married waif's husband, Marius, and other scene-stealers. Marius goes from 1832 resistance fighter to publisher of La Lumiere, a reformist newspaper for the French working class. In the civil uprising of 1848, he's imprisoned for his anti-royalist views but rallies to support the masses. Another key figure is a fleet-footed street kid known as ``the Starling.'' In homage to Valjean's kindness, Cosette adopts the latter, enlisting him as a newspaper hawker and a messenger during times of strife; Cosette's teenage daughter, Fantine, predictably falls for the brave lad. Kalpakian tirelessly constructs these recklessly romantic characters and captures the original's defiant, tragic spirit. Yet, in altering her voice for period authenticity, the author is more melodramatic than literary (Cosette ``locked her fingers into Marius's coat as if he were the branch and she the autumn leaf, and this revolutionary gale was about to blow them apart forever''). The bittersweet conclusion, however, is true to the genre Kalpakian emulates. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; author tour. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/03/1995
Release date: 07/01/1995
Genre: Fiction
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-694-51557-8
Paperback - 978-0-06-092736-3
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