Is this a love story with an uprising along side? OR is it a treatise on socio-economic-political realities? Or maybe the story of a doomed revolution with a love story as a sub-plot? OR maybe a study of varying characters and how they deal with the vagaries of life?
Or maybe it is all four and more....
In this (long -- 15 books of varying lengths) volume both the revolution and the love story get to the boil, though the outcome of both is left hanging as we move into Volume 5 (the final volume).
And actually, while they are sometimes aggravating and seem less than germane to the furthering of the actual plot, I am quite enjoying some of the diversions. For example, the discussion about the roots of Parisian slang was intriguing. And there is a great deal of political comment hidden in the text. It has made me ponder doing some looking into a biography of Victor Hugo to see where he was coming from as he wrote.
By now the barricade has repulsed one attack but the defenders seem to expect that their cause is doomed. Marius is despondent, thinking his love is lost forever, and Jean Valjean is wrestling with his own demons and fears. The one character I whose inner life I would like to learn more about is Cosette. WE see some but not nearly as much as the others.