I would definitely recommend this Julie Rose/George Guidall version of the Les Miserables audiobook to anyone who is willing to spend time with this classic. It is well worth your time.
Julie Rose's translation makes you wonder why Hugo's epic yet intimate story isn't on everyone's reading list. She delivers a Hugo with a richness of language and poetry of prose that is a delight to the modern reader. Rose even manages to bring Hugo's history lessons to life, dropping us effortlessly into the French political landscape of the early 19th century and making it interesting.
I started listening to other versions of Les Miserables, but felt the narrators were too high-brow to hold my interest. Then I found George Guidall's version. Guidall manages to bring the characters to life so well that by the end of the story you are desperately sad to see them go and want to hear more. Listening to Guidall is literally like curling up with a good book. His style is so rich yet accessible - perhaps that is why he has narrated over 900 books throughout his career!
Victor Hugo's story, in the capable hands of Julie Rose and George Guidall, inspires and challenges you. By the end of the story I was in the room with the characters, weeping with joy and sadless alongside them all.
This is a classic for all the right reasons. It is a long book and not everyone's cup of tea, however. I like my literature long, complex, beautifully written and with fascinating and well-drawn characters. Les Miserables fits the bill. I read it in print many years ago (due it its length, not many attempt multiple readings) and loved it. You can read reviews of the books itself elsewhere, so I will primarily address the translation and narration. I have no memory of which translation I read back in the 1970s, but it was probably Hapgood or Wilbour and might even have been Norman Denny (a slightly abridged version from the mid-1970s). When I chose the Audible version to buy, my choice seemed conflicted from the beginning: Narrator vs. Translation. I chose George Guidall, who is masterful and simply delightful. And he does beautiful work here, you can be assured. But the Julie Rose translation (2007) is simply too modern for my taste. There are just too many instances of jarring, contemporary turns of phrase. I suppose if one struggles to read old-fashioned language it might be the right choice for you, but I was dismayed. As much as I love George Guidall, I stopped listening after about 4 hours and instead downloaded a digital copy to my Kindle. I was very sad to do so, but I just couldn't take Julie Rose.
...I guess I can't, in all fairnes, say this, since I flat quit listening about halfway through the book. After 30+ hours of listening, I just couldn't bring myself to sacrifice another 30 hours of my life to Victor Hugo. I can't honestly report anything terrible about his writing; I know this is considered a classic, and to some, one of the best pieces of literature ever penned. I just don't possess the patience any more to wait for the story to continue to build. As others have said, Hugo's ramblings about certain topics, that truly have no bearing on the story he is trying to tell, go on for way too long. The narrator was great, and I had no issues with his performance. But, for those of you out there who've seen the recent movie or the broadway performance and want to know more, my advice to you is to stick with the visual mediums. Perhaps an abridged version would be better, although I usually shun abridgements; I may have been more satisfied if I'd made an exception in this case. Way, way, way too long for this girl!
I loved the more modern translation of this timeless classic by Victor Hugo. It is the most listenable reading of a classic I have listened to yet.
The Romance between Cosette and Marius.
Javert. Hands down!
It was too long for that.
I probably would have enjoyed this book even better if it was not for the diatribes and digressions that Hugo went into in parts of the novel. It is kind of like taking a sponge and wringing all the liquid out of it. Otherwise, I enjoyed this classic immensely. I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the classics. Once again, a masterful performance by George Guidall. It is always a joy to have a good translator as well as a good reader for a work such as this.
Having read the novel in French as a teenager, I appreciate how this wonderful translation makes the text come alive for contemporary audiences.
The characters represent absolutes: absolute Good, absolute Evil, absolute Suffering. My favorite character is the narrator, who plays with the reader in his references to himself as the teller of the story, sometimes mentioning historical figures named "Hugo" who are identified as relatives.
Guidall's performance is spectacular. He brings the characters to life in a variety of appropriate accents and just enough change in voice quality to make the dialogues realistic. His French pronunciation is superb. The long historical digressions are much more intereesting to hear than to read--I am sure I skipped many of them when I read it but listening has taught me much. I will look forward to hearing his other performances.
A particularly compelling scene is where Marius is spying on Thenardier's ambush of "Monsieur LeBlanc". The young man is faced with an impossible choice: saving the noble father of the woman he loves or obeying the dying wish of his own father to protect the criminal who had rescued him at Waterloo.
I would never have had the patience to reread this daunting work but the ability to listen while doing other things has made it fresh again.
The characters are so well developed you feel like you know them. There are some great moral players here, starting with the bishop and, eventually, Jean Valjean.
My biggest problem is that Hugo tends to go off on side topics and not come back for awhile. I swear he spent 1 1/2 hours on the sewers of Paris. And while Waterloo is interesting, it's not two hours interesting--especially when it doesn't add that much to the story. There are 1/2 dozen topics that he just goes on and on about without really adding to the story. This added hours and hours to an already long book. George Guidall is one of my favorite readers, but I wonder if the abridged version wouldn't work a little better.
Also, I thought the ending was a bit too much. Almost felt like a Hallmark classic...
I dug the hell out of it, but could have been spared the endless details about some of the characters and places. For example: the sewer. I didn't need the entire history of the sewer system while homeboy was escaping through it. Def. could have been spared a lot of details. that being said, I completely broke down and sobbed at the end. Just that good, just that penetrating. stunner of a book, for sure.
George Guidall made this long story a very easy listen. The unabridged version has a lot of background information that is not essential to the story line, but gives the listener a good feeling for the time period in which it was written. An unabridged version might be better for some people, but you would miss out on a lot of French history and culture in the process. Hugo has a very interesting insights on the French revolution and what followed in the next 50 years that would be missed in an abridged version.
The narrator has an enthusiastic tone and the plot is memorable
His accent and enthusiasm
No, it is really long so I was not planning to listen in one day.
There are long periods about history and a seemingly irrelevant backstory. this was difficult to listen to after a while but the overall plot is great, so maybe listening to the abridged version would be better
75 yr old MWF. I like historical novels with more history than story. Audiobooks shouldn't have too many characters.
Victor Hugo put so very much deep thinking into this. Sometimes I didn't want to hear so much philosophizing and wanted to get on with the story, but it is brilliant and masterfully plotted out! It is hard for me to get the French names on audiobook, though I think George Guidall pronounces them meticulously. I was surprised that the book was so long -- doubt that I'd have finished it if I had chosen to read it in print. That would have been sad, because he really paints a detailed picture of the thinking of post-Napoleonic France. His description of the Battle of Waterloo is stunning.