Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
Phenomenal depiction of the horror and monotony of war.
Paul Bäumer at 18 is convinced along with his classmates to join the WWI war effort. They meet an older soldier, Stanislaus Katczinsky or Kat, who becomes a mentor and helps them survive initially.
Overall the grisly descriptions and absolute hopelessness is relentless. It's easy to see why the Nazis banned and burned this book.
Frank Muller is one of my favorite narrators, and his work on this book made it even more incredible.
I've decided for awhile that I wanted to read "Ulysses" - which really seems like a marathon for readers. I tried reading it once, and couldn't get the rhythm of the language. Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan's reading helped me over that hurdle. I also had the book in front of me, and I used "Ulysses Annotated" by Don Gifford to help me with all the glorious historical, literature, musical, biblical references, along with the 1904 Dublin slang.
I would recommend this recording to anybody interested in experiencing the novel that changed literature.
The book is very complicated - about 1/4 of the book are "digressions" where Hugo discusses topics as diverse as Waterloo, the Paris sewer system, slang, the penal system, politics, cloisters, Paris rich, Paris poor and more. While these passages are hard to wade through - they prepare the reader for later passages, and add a little suspense as we want to get back to the story of Jean Valjean and others.
Nothing is absolute with Hugo, he examines both sides of issues - he may rail on Catholic cloisters, but Valjean's road to salvation starts with an act of kindness by a priest, and later he and Cosette are living in a convent.
Overall, the book is about what is good/evil and the possibility of redemption but how society's conventions may get in the way. While reading the book, I was struck to the similarity in construction to "War and Peace" (a fabulous story with many digressions). This makes sense since Tolstoy and Hugo were contemporaries and "Les Misérables" was published 7 years before Tolstoy's masterpiece.