Toilers of the Sea (French: Les Travailleurs de la mer) is a novel by Victor Hugo published in 1866. The book is dedicated to the island of Guernsey, where Hugo spent 15 years in exile. Hugo uses the setting of a small island community to transmute seemingly mundane events into drama of the highest calibre. Les Travailleurs de la Mer is set just after the Napoleonic Wars and deals with the impact of the Industrial Revolution upon the island.
The story concerns a Guernseyman named Gilliatt, a social outcast who falls in love with Deruchette, the niece of a local shipowner, Mess Lethierry. When Lethierry's ship is wrecked on the Roches Douvres, a perilous reef, Deruchette promises to marry whoever can salvage the ship's steam engine. Gilliatt eagerly volunteers, and the story follows his physical trials and tribulations (which include a battle with an octopus), as well as the undeserved opprobrium of his neighbours.