I'm Robert's wife, a retired physician and homeschool mom whose grown kids now love history, literature, sci-fi, fantasy, historical fiction
I've listened to Davidson a lot (even War and Peace) because I like long classics and sometimes he's the only way to go. I find him pretty annoying, and my daughter dislikes listening to him worse than I do. But in this book he was less annoying than in others. The story is phenomenal. I've read it, listened to it more than once, seen the musical three times and would go back again in a heartbeat. Don't miss this book. There is a new translation out by Julie Rose--I'm looking forward to giving it a try too.
History - although telling the story of an individual's life, Les Miserables also paints a detailed and expansive picture of an era in French history. Not being a student of history, I cannot attest to the level of historical accuracy. However, the novel presents a detailed picture of the political, social, and moral climate of the time (1789–1832). The author presents a number of detailed and at times lengthy digressions into various of these topics which often seem to have only passing relevance to the action of the story, but do act to set a mood and context. Hugo is not just telling the story of Jean Valjean, he is illustrating fundamental concepts of the human condition, some specific to his time, but some timeless as well...and this is probably why this novel holds the place it does in the world of classic literature. Redemption - it seems that the concept of redemption was not considered in the criminal justice system, or even in the moral philosophy, of the time. Jean Valjean pays for the theft of bread - to feed his sister's starving children - with nearly two decades of incarceration (extended by a number of foolish attempts at escape). Once his term is served, however, it seems that society continues the punishment and virtually leaves him no choice but to return to a life crime. At the beginning, Jean Valjean is not a noble person crushed by circumstance, he is basically a simple minded brute. As his story progresses, however, he does receive a small degree of respect and faith which is the spark which sets him on the path to consciously redeeming himself through service to others.Tragedy - for all the good that Jean Valjean ultimately performs, it seems that society will not recognize the possibility of redemption and he must fight and flee the past for his entire life. It seems that for every step forward he takes he is beaten down and risks losing all the good he has done. The saddest part, is that being a product of this society, he cannot seem to forgive himself either. For all the good he accomplishes, he cannot seem to grant himself forgiveness for those crimes he has committed so long ago.
At this time I would have to say that Les Miserables is somewhat unique in my "reading" experience. It's been quite a while since I've had the opportunity to enjoy literature for literature's sake, so I don't have a lot of fresh references upon which to draw. That being said, this is a great book against which future readings will be measured.
While there are moments in this book that moved me by the ability of the human spirit to overcome, and even soar in the face of overwhelming oppression, the overall reaction was often one of sadness. Sadness for both the individual sufferings of Jean Valjean and other characters in the story and sadness for the overall society painted by the book. While it is good to see that we (as in humanity) have moved forward, there are still unfortunately too many parallels to be found in the world of today. At the same time, the book is a strong reminder that struggles are only lost by surrender, despite external outcomes, victory is of the spirit and is achieved by how the struggle is faced.
Poor quality - I hate to hear the narrator taking a breath every few seconds and it would have been nice to have a narrator without an English accent reading a French story.
I love the depth of this story. In today's world of media capability, we are used to seeing details, rather than reading or listening to them. The book is a wealth of wise admonitions and insight into human nature.
hard to say, liked the male characters better than the female characters as performed by him
no, but I was familiar with the story before listening to it
If you are not one to love details, go for the shorter version of this book, but if you love detail and want to boast you covered the whole book as written, this is a great listen!
The narration is excellent and dividing it into parts make the download managable.
The climactic moment of the trial and the death of Fantine
Jean Val Jean
It made me do both.
loved this book when I read it in high school 50 years ago, hated listening to it, could only stand about 30 minutes at a stretch.
everytime I turned it off
still waiting to get to the end so I can delete it, which will be my most moving moment
narrator's sarcasm was as irratating as finger nails on a Chalk board, am still kicking myself for not getting the George Guidall version.
Hearing Hugo's marvelous prose come to life.
Jean Valjean's inner battle as he debates whether he should free the man how stands to be condemned in his place.
Great jobs bringing these characters to life.
It it were possible.
Beautiful, encouraging, enthralling
War and Peace -- such tremendous characters, facing such human issues...
This is a book for every lover of literature. One of my favorite books, ever!
I must confess, I did enjoy the main storyline of Les Miserables. I picked the unabridged book so that I would have many hours of listening enjoyment. However, dashed throughout the book Victor Hugo talks about french society, french politics, and french history in general. Each of these sections were used to reinforce the main storyline as it progressed. However, I found myself lost trying to understand the french history.
I would not recommend the unabridged book to anyone who isn't familiar with french history. I assume that the abridged book has a much more concise storyline and I would recommend the main storyline.
I would listen to Les Miserables again! This story is a classic for a reason. It has everything in it. Love, war, romance, triumph of good over evil.