First published in 1866, Hugo's story unfolds the life of a reclusive fisherman, Gilliat, who lives on the Isle of Guernsey, where Hugo himself was exiled for a large portion of his life. When Gilliat becomes a young man, he falls in love with Déruchette, the beautiful niece of wealthy ship-owner Lethierry. When Lethierry's steamship mysteriously runs aground, Déruchette, who is in love with the new rector of the island, offers to marry the man who can recover the 'Durande'. Gilliat sets off at once to free the ship, and his feats of ingenuity and strength create some of the most memorable descriptions to be found in a romantic novel. Although the least known of Hugo's masterpieces, this deliberately grandiose tale is by turns a sympathetic, richly detailed account of the hard work of seamanship and exhilarating action, as in the remarkable battle with the octopus. This irresistible novel, written with Hugo's considerable narrative skill, is both captivating and haunting to its ironic conclusion.
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January 01, 2013
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