I've loved the musical and various on-screen adaptations since I was young. I still loved this book, but it was just too long for me. The unabridged version (which this is) has too much in the way of descriptions of the French revolution, wars, and sewer systems for my liking. Others may love that, though! The reading was really quite good, and the story is timeless.
I have a new appreciation for French history, enough so that I am now listening to Paris by one of my favorite authors Edward Rutherfurd. Generally I'm not a fan of musicals, but the movie adaption of the stage musical left me wanting more and so, I downloaded the book. I'm extremely happy I did.
Hugo goes off on long tangents that have only a loose connection to what is actually happening in the book. He takes on the church, the government, various levels of society at the time, and provides a rather lengthy description of the events on the battlefield of Waterloo. As a history buff I enjoyed most of the diatribes but a couple did become tedious and left me longing for a return to the story, a fascinating, heart wrenching, amazing story. I've since learned some more about Victor Hugo and have a better understanding for who he was and his mind set at the time of the writing of this classic. It's given me an appreciation that I didn't have while listening to the book but that would have enriched the experience.
It's a five star story with five star narration for me, but it's not an easy listen. The author seems to want you to suffer at certain points. Hugo's protagonist and antagonist are much more complex in the book than could possibly be displayed on stage in the allotted time. This book is worth reading for those that are new to Les Miserables and lovers of the stage experience alike.
Endure the authors detours if you are not one who loves a history lesson, embrace them if you are, but take the time to listen and feel the emotions that Hugo forces upon you and you will love it.
I really appreciated the narration of George Guidall. He was an excellent choice of actor to record this important work. He has great character voices, inflections, masterful skill in being the "one man show" of Les Miserable. (I hope he received some kind of award or recognition!) The reason why many start Les Miserables but never finish is that between Hugo's verbose language and the complicated and continuous (to modern eyes) French language references make it a very dense read. Yet, if you approach this book as if you were sitting in a big leather armchair before a fire with someone such as George Guidall reading it to you, with all the phrasing and correct pronunciations in context, Hugo's pageant opens up to you. Not only is it a great work of literature, it is profoundly deep, entertaining, sentimental and moving. If the musical/operetta version (excellent in it's own genre) Les Miserables is a six-inch ruler, the book is a yard-stick!
So many - off the top, where Jean Val Jean finds Cossette in the forest when she is getting water, later when Marius falls in love with her in the Luxembourg Gardens; the characterization of Marius' grandfather, the description of the Battle of Waterloo. The night Jean Val Jean agonizes over whether or not he should turn himself in when a man of mistaken identity may be condemned in his place. All fantastic.
Of the many memorable scenes, my favorite is where the three orphaned boys take shelter in the Elephant of the Bastille during a thunderstorm. It was months ago that I originally read it, yet it continues to haunt me. It was touchingly adorable, funny and horrifying all at once.
As a joke - You haven't cried so much since Bambi's Mother died! Seriously - the story that asks and answers our universal questions about life - with one word.
Well worth the value if you get it as a single purchase or on a membership. It took me a year to complete the audio version and that was with being able to listen to it at extended periods at a time. And what was the first thing I did after wiping away my last tear on the last page? (so to speak) Hit the download button again to listen to the first part. I didn't want to leave and there is so much more to be gained again and again. I'm so glad this version of this book exists in this world. It truly has been a blessing in my life. If you can, please do invest the time. I hope you will find it equally moving.
Awesome human story
The rescue of Colette
The forgiveness shown Valjean by the Bishop over the candlesticks theft
Listening to the dulcet tones of George Guidall convey Les Miserables made this audio book stellar. His perfect language skills; his emotion; his incredible character-capturing tones. . . they all lend the most compelling ambiance to this book. And to hear the entire story is something no one should miss. Tho' the screenwriters did a perfect job of condensing the basic story to the movie, to know all the background and the human story Hugo was telling is what makes Les Miserables a book for all. Besides, you get a pretty good history of Napoleonic wars. I would've had a hard time READING those parts, Guidall made it a joy. I listen while I do through-hole soldering (my job), and it made work something I couldn't wait to do.
Yes, It exceeded my expectations. A classic tale using contemporary American phraseology but not noticeably modern.
Jean val Jean, The evolution of this character embodies everything Hugo is trying to illustrate about his views of how man and the society should evolve.
No but I definitely would select his work again. An excellent narration, perfect transitions between scenes and characters. Very well done!
No, too long to even consider that
I read the print version years ago and figured it would be easier to listen, than try to read it again and I was correct. Had the narration been less than excellent I may not have made it through. This is really several books in one. The story of Jean val Jean, Cozette, Javier, etc., A history of the French revolutions 1789-1833, A political commentary on the evolution of French politics from King Louis through Bonaparte, through the restoration and fall, and lastly a social commentary of Paris during that era. Hugo has an extremely loquacious writing style so be prepared to endure all of these digressions. Nevertheless, the plot of the book and the development of the characters is superb. A skilled editor could remove half the text and nothing important would be lost.
Yes! This is my first audible book. I feel that I have entered a new & wonderful world.
Everything was spectacular about this book.
George Guidall is a great reader. A good reader is crucial to the book's enjoyment.
Les Mis is a classic, but there's no doubt there are parts that can drag. Having George Guidall's amazing voice helps those parts fly by painlessly.
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
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.
Number 2 out of all books I've ever read.
Jean ValJean was my favorite character because of his decision to change and to stick to his word
No, because the book is much too long but quite necessary to the story
Listen to this book!
A well known story, but I was glad to hear it all - even the parts about the Paris sewers. There is no way I would have read the book. The audible version is great.
Yes. I listened to Babbit. And this narrator is fabulous in Les Mis. He changes his voice for each character. It's like listening to a stage play. Very engaging.
It actually took me about 5 months to listen to the whole thing. I only listened on my commute to work and back. As you probably know, it's a VERY long book.