The Disney movie (same as the title) sent me to this book, but the original was nothing like the movie. Hunchback of Notre Dame is a famous novel written by Victor Hugo. This story has love, betrayal, revenge and brutal deeds, all worthy of this Paris based classic.
Quasimodo, the hideous deaf hunchback who resembles cyclops, works and lives in the cathedral of Notre Dame. He was an orphan, raised by the respected and influential Archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo. However, in reality Quasimodo is a prisoner; his deformities will never be accepted by anyone in Paris or his master. Longing to experience some normalcy, Quasimodo spends all his time in the cathedral.
Although the title indicates that the protagonist is Quasimodo, the hunchback of Notre Dame, the real hero is Esmeralda. A gypsy girl who is also an orphan since birth, migrates to live in Paris with her goat Djalli. She is portrayed as an innocent girl who is kind, gentle and helpful to friends and foes alike. But what she truly is famous for is her beauty. She becomes the source of infatuation to every man in Paris and this is what makes her life a misery. Even the old and powerful Frollo desires her. He tries to use the indebtedness of Quasimodo to get her for himself. But he isn’t the only one trying to get her. Living in the court of miracles with thieves and rioters, the innocent Esmeralda gets herself into trials after trials.
In the book, Esmeralda is accused of being a sorceress, a witch and a murderer, but will this non- influential gypsy girl’s unwavering good nature help her out of it? Will all those people she offered help and kindness to, come to her aid? Will all those men who tried to seduce come to her rescue?
This book questions our loyalty and value. Is being good, virtuous and dutiful enough or do we also need to be cunning, alert and suspicious in nature to live in this world unscathed.
A warning to readers, the book, like most classics is a progressive train; it starts slow in order to introduce you to the characters and the then political climate of Paris(1422); after which the book picks up the pace and the finale is an emotional-action packed rollercoaster.
An advice would be to leave the chapter on the history of Notre Dame for those who are not interested, for it has no bearing on the plot. I wouldn’t call this book a romance novel, it is more a slow thriller and it is interesting to see multi-dimensional characters in the book. Every character has a pivotal role to play in the end.
This book is a must read for anyone who prides themselves to be classics lover and it is a pity that this book isn’t as acclaimed as Les miserable, for it is just as good, smaller and faster in pace. Bon Chance.
A notable quote from the novel-
“Do you know what friendship is?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ replied the gypsy; ‘it is to be brother and sister; two souls which touch without mingling, two fingers on one hand.’
‘And love?’ pursued Gringoire.
‘Oh! love!’ said she, and her voice trembled, and her eye beamed. ‘That is to be two and to be but one. A man and a woman mingled into one angel. It is heaven.”
― Victor Hugo, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
This Post is written by Sriranjani, my pen pal .She is an avid fan of classics, Tintin comics and Disney movies . She also loves music especially classical.