Another thing I love is Marius. I think his character is so wonderful. He is a perfect mix of naivete and passion, first devoting his energies and admiration to his father, a soldier at Waterloo who is estranged from him because Marius's grandfather thinks he is below their family, and later to "his Ursula," a mysterious and beautiful woman he sees every day in Luxembourg Gardens who turns out to be, of course, Cosette. Marius is painted in such realistic colors, but he is never stodgy or boring. He is passionate youth, devoting himself wholeheartedly to every whisper of his heart, paying the rent of his destitute neighbors despite the fact that it only leaves him enough to pay for the next day's dinner, sneaking away from home to weep at his father's grave, following a beautiful girl home without considering how her overly protective father might react to it. Everything about him is fresh and endearing.
With Marius comes a whole troupe of similarly fresh and endearing young men, idealists that love France and are eager for change. One of my favorite parts of Book 3 was reading the descriptions of each of the young men -- it was absolutely delightful. Of course, the one that stands out in my mind the most is Enjolras, the impassioned young patriot who cares for nothing but his country; his only lover is France. Courfeyrac is another that is particularly significant because it is he that first befriends Marius and introduces him to the others; Courfeyrac is witty and gallant, able to recover from any blow life gives him and abounding in romances. He is an interesting foil to Marius but proves to be one of his best friends.
Action really becomes heated toward the end of Book 3, when Marius discovers several things: First of all, that his neighbors are connected to his father; secondly, that they are also connected to "his Ursula" and her father, and thirdly, that all the parties involved have some serious secrets. I love the way everyone's lives come together again; I don't know if the connectedness is realistic, but it is fascinating.
Today I began Book 4 of Les Miserables, which I think will prove to be climactic for most of the characters despite the fact that one book remains after it. I am looking forward to the adventures -- and Marius and Cosette finally meeting face to face.