Victor-Marie Hugo (1802-1885) wrote L'Homme Qui Rit (The Man Who Laughs) in 1869. One of the greatest French novelists, poets, playwrights and socio-political figures of his time, he is probably best known for having written Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame) (1831) and Les Misérables (1862), but The Man Who Laughs is a romantic masterpiece that deserves an equal measure of acclaim.
The incredible love story of the man whose face has been disfigured into a laughing mask in childhood, the loyal blind girl who gives him her heart, and the cruelty of the privileged aristocracy whose laughingstock and savior he becomes, is remarkable in its emotional impact.
But do not be deceived. The timeless trope of Beauty and the Beast is redefined here, for surfaces are misleading, and not everything is as it seems. The slow-paced, stately richness of descriptive detail is reward in itself for the reader looking for delicious immersion in the drama of history, but coupled with the depth of human insight, and the glimpse into a historical era and mindset, this is a timeless classic.