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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

"52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables" (Bob Welch)

TITLE: 52 Little Lessons from Les Miserables
AUTHOR: Bob Welch
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2014, (208pages).

The musical has been seen by more than 65 million people in over 42 countries. Written by Victor Hugo in 1862, it continues to fascinate and enthrall audiences the world over. In 2012, it even won a Golden Globe award for best picture. The question, is there something more than simply a show? Are there important lessons to learn from as far as lay people are concerned? Are the lessons in the 19th Century story still relevant for today? Welch gives an emphatic YES! Fifty Two of them.

For Les Miserables is not simply a brilliant play that entertains. It is also a story that is big on spiritual themes, life struggles, and according to author, speaker, and adjunct professor of journalism at Eugene's University of Oregon, it contains "52 little lessons" that we can all learn from. What makes the writing of this book interesting and challenging is to be able to select only 52 out of a very complex tale of betrayal, mystery, joy, forgiveness, despondency, suffering, political and social reforms, and many others. For us as readers, we can enjoy the fruits of the author's labour, with the many stories of the characters, the places, the plots, the history and many other interesting settings. Most of the lessons are spiritually inclined because the author feels that the novel is spiritual in nature.

Readers will notice several significant themes. Right from the start, an important key to understanding the story is to know the background and contexts. Things happen with a reason. We learn about the generosity and humility of bishop Myriel, an upright man who gives up personal comfort for the benefit of others, defends the poor, and loves serving people. His quiet and servant lifestyle contrasts with those who are famous, pompous, and richly influential who hardly lifted a finger to help the vulnerable. Jean Valjean's patient knocking on doors to ask for help is another example of how Matthew 7:7-8 can be practiced. We learn about love that is active, not passive. Other spiritual lessons include:
  • Learning to see others as God sees people
  • How crisis tests our character and how grace can change us
  • The irony of strengths becoming weaknesses
  • That children need to be allowed to be children. Don't impose adult like expectations on them.
  • What good is faith if it does not touch others?
  • Humility and humanity
  • ...
Just looking at the lessons drawn from the musical, I believe that there are more than 52 lessons in this really intriguing novel. I appreciate the concise summaries in each chapter and the "list of characters" to help jiggle our memories about the novel and play. Perhaps, one of the best ways to appreciate Bob Welch's book is to watch Les Miserables again. Then read the book and see the characters and the life lessons come alive in more ways than one. 

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers http://booklookbloggers.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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