Hugo describes early 19th-century France with a sweeping power that gives his novel epic stature. Among the most famous chapters are the account of the battle of Waterloo and Valjean's flight through the Paris sewers.
(P)1996 Blackstone Audiobooks
I drive a lot for work,and when I drive I listen to audible. Life is good. In my mid-30's now, and I mainly listen to Fantasy books.
But I can't listen to it read by this narrator. There are narrators out there that I don't like, but can still listen to the book. But this book is a complete waste of a purchase for me. I gave it a good 30 minutes, and I determined that its a lost hope.
I picked this particular version of Les Mis because it was unabridged and, inspite of all the digressions, it was worth it. However, I am getting the abridged version for a friend whom I know is more interested in the story than in the full flavor of the period. I enjoyed the reader with his French pronunciation and his failed attempts to sing. This is a reminder why I love the classics.
The affected snobbishness of the narrator makes this book very difficult to listen to. Little expression in his voice does not help. I went off previous reviews and feel I wasted my money on this one... Make sure you listen to a sample. If you like the narrator, you will like the book. Comes in 3 parts... You are not buying the full novel = expensive.
I've read the full, unabridged version of this novel before and loved it. However, I didn't want to devote so much time to reading such a lengthy book again.
I chose this version of the audiobook unwisely. The narrator's voice is so affected and pretentious that it completely detaches from the story. Listen to the sample and then imagine listening to that for more than 55 hours. I couldn't do it for more than 15 minutes. I'm going to purchase the other version since the narrator's accent is more how I would imagine and like the narrator of such a great book to be.
Hugo tells an INCREDIBLE story. It was a beautiful mix of romance, action, and familial love. It's a story I'd love to hear over and over again. I was truly enraptured with the characters and the plot. However, I think he was absent the day they taught economy of writing. All authors have tangents and some add to the depth of the story but in this case, they became monotonous and had little bearing on the plot. Over an hour describing the minutia of the Battle of Waterloo, another hour on the practices of the nuns, 45 minutes on the construction, cleaning and reconstruction of the sewers in Paris and another 45 minutes on his personal philosophy of revolution. It was a bit much and those are just one ones I remember off the top of my head. I would love to hear and abridged version since these distracted me so much from the lives of the charming and delightful characters he spent so much time developing.
The narrator on the other hand was TERRIBLE! He slurps and smacks all the way through it. I could hear his breathing and it was incredibly distracting. His accent was snobby and I must agree with other reviews who said if an accent was to be used it should have been a French accent not an English one. His singing was cringe worthy: like fingernails on a chalkboard! It's a good thing the book was so good or I'd have given up on it based on the narrator.
One other thing I found to be of interest, not positive or negative: the words "sepulcher" or "sepulchral" were used at least 31 times in this book. I started counting around the 5th or 6th occurrence because it is a word not often heard in our language today so it caught my ear. It was kind of a game I played, listening for them.
I do recommend the book but an abridged version my keep it going a little better.
I never get the abridged version thinking that if I do I'm missing out on the author's intent, important color and details, or simply because I'm not getting my credits worth. I would make a big exception for this book. V. Hugo apparently didn't benefit from having an editor who would've marked out hours upon hours of needless, tedious prose on so many completely tangential topics. Not just a little bit; HOURS UPON HOURS. I dangerously advanced my IPOD in 10 minute increments while driving because I just couldn't take the insanely obscure and repetitive references (unless you lived in 19th Cent. France) or loosely associated and completely unimportant historical trivia. No kidding, 2 hours on the historical development of European and Paris sewer systems so that Jean Valjean could escape through it. To be fair, I didn't listen to the abridged version to compare, but I wish I had heeded the warnings of others to do so.
Also the narrator constantly made me think of the word "Supercilious" which was a distraction throughout.
CONCLUSION: Don’t bother.
TECHNICAL: Poor sound quality.
NARRATION: Horrendous. This man should be shot for attempting to sing. Thick accent makes it hard to understand. I don’t speak French, I don’t want to speak French. Its an English language version; why were parts left un-translated?
AUTHORCRAFT: The story of Jean Valjean is compelling. But the vast proliferation of self-aggrandizing, pontification intermixed into the storyline makes this not worth your (or at least my) listening time.
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