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Les Miserables | [Victor Hugo]

Les Miserables

Set in the Parisian underworld and plotted like a detective story, Les Miserables follows Jean Valjean, originally an honest peasant, who has been imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. A hardened criminal upon his release, he eventually reforms, becoming a successful industrialist and town mayor. Despite this, he is haunted by an impulsive former crime and is pursued relentlessly by the police inspector Javert.
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Publisher's Summary

Set in the Parisian underworld and plotted like a detective story, Les Miserables follows Jean Valjean, originally an honest peasant, who has been imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. A hardened criminal upon his release, he eventually reforms, becoming a successful industrialist and town mayor. Despite this, he is haunted by an impulsive former crime and is pursued relentlessly by the police inspector Javert.

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

What Members Say

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4.1 (1129 )
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4.0 (543 )
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  •  
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 05-06-10
    John MENLO PARK, CA, United States 05-06-10 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A VERY long haul, but glad I did."

    Whew. Be careful what you wish for . . . I'd had this in my wish list for a while and was running low on credits so I decided to pick a long book. (57 hours I think?)
    Having just gotten back from living for two months in the Marais, I really enjoyed the book, and I can definitely see why it's a classic, and something everyone should read. (like Moby Dick) But wow . . . it's a long haul. I'm glad I got the unabridged version, but there were moments that for the first time in my life I considered the value of an abridged version.
    Give it a try when you know you're going to have some long drives or commutes!
    Try it, but know what you're getting yourself in for! (Btw, if I could I would have rated 4.5 stars.)

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonnie Lauderdale by the Sea, FL, USA 08-03-07
    Bonnie Lauderdale by the Sea, FL, USA 08-03-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
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    "Great Literature"

    This audio book is well worth the listening time. It is fast-moving, exciting and philosophical. I especially loved the way the author described the spiritual struggle of the main character.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peggy Mason Chicago, IL 08-31-06
    Peggy Mason Chicago, IL 08-31-06
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    "Superb, Sublime, Amazing"

    This is an amazing story told with such love for human beings with all of their frailties and faults. Just the description of Bishop Myriel is amazing, a character that will stay with me always. The sidebars (that can be quite long) are interesting and made me learn more about French history. [Wikipedia was a helpful companion to listening to this book.] The ending is redemtive and tragic. In the end I was just so sad to have to say farewell to the characters that I cared so much about.
    I really liked the narrator's style, his different voices, his singing and of course the drollness of his upper crust English accent.
    A marvelous "read".

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Milarepa Monbos, France and San Francisco, USA 06-27-10
    Milarepa Monbos, France and San Francisco, USA 06-27-10 Member Since 2006

    Milarepa & Electra

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    "Tour de Force Reading of a Masterpiece"

    This is a superb reading in every respect. Davidson brings to full life the myriad voices and social textures of the novel with aplomb and creativity. Engaging and entertaining throughout.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cheimon New York, NY USA 04-01-08
    Cheimon New York, NY USA 04-01-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Get a different version"

    I absolutely adore the book, but this audiobook is helplessly out of date. The narrator is not neutral, but almost a character in himself. He speaks everything with the air of a stereotypical arrogant man from a period movie, his narration is nasal and oddly drawn out. There is also not a lot of variation for voices of characters. Additionally, you often hear him turn the pages (which is not that bad, but does not speak well of the production value).

    I am sure that there are much better versions out there, I cannot recommend this one.

    11 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Germantown, MD, USA 11-18-04
    Robert Germantown, MD, USA 11-18-04
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    "Amazing"

    "Les Miserables" is a book full of life, sadness, sublime joy, wretchedness, heart-wrenching despair, and love. And not a few long essays on the Revolution, Waterloo, insurrection, and justice. The unabridged version can at times be tedious -- apparently 19th-Century readers didn't mind so much a 100 page discourse on the maneuvers of Napoleon -- but it's the only edition to tackle. Mr. Davidson is a splendid reader, equally at home with English and French, and his voice is aristocratic (rather than pretentious, as some reviewers have claimed). This book alone would have made my Audible subscription worthwhile.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nancy Ithaca, NY, USA 05-23-10
    Nancy Ithaca, NY, USA 05-23-10 Member Since 2005
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    "Irritating Naration"

    I'm sorry; I really tried to listen, and I will try again sometime, but the narration of this audio-book is irritating. The reader sounds bored to me, perhaps it is just his stuffy sounding British accent. [I'm a big BBC fan, so I don't really have anything against British accents.] His inhalations are very audible as well, and they don't contribute to the story.
    I was ready to purchase another version and I looked for another on Aubible.com. I wanted an unabridged, and this is the only one. The longest abridged version also has a fairly unexciting reader, so I guess I may just read this book or wait until I'm feeling really tolerant before I try again.

    9 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linse Minnesota 11-02-12
    Linse Minnesota 11-02-12
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    "Wonderful story, poorly written"
    If you could sum up Les Miserables in three words, what would they be?

    The story is deeply moving - even weeks after finishing the book, I find myself walking or driving, think of a scene and growing happy or melancholy. Not many stories haunt me like this.

    However, it is not as good as Dickens. Dickens (of the same era) tells a story which paints an image in your mind of life back in the 1800's. In contrast, Hugo tells a story, then frequently stops and directly explains what you should have understood from the story - as if the reader is too stupid to understand without a professor's detailed dissection and explanation. This rehashing gets tedious very fast.

    So I'd say:
    - one third of the book is the wonderful story.
    - one third of the book is interesting historical detail and context.
    - one third of the book should have been edited out.


    Would you recommend Les Miserables to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes, it is a wonderful story, just be prepared for some boring, pointless parts.


    What does Frederick Davidson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The ability to listen when I drive :) I do like the emotion.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There are so many places in which I smiled to cried.

    I think the section about Cosette carrying the water and with the dolls is perhaps the most moving (first the lead-sword in a rag, then the purloined doll, then her own doll).


    Any additional comments?

    As I frequently listen to good stories 3 or even 4 times, I'd love to find an abridged version which cuts out the 1/3 of content which shouldn't be there.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 03-16-12
    Ian Farnborough, United Kingdom 03-16-12 Member Since 2003
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    "Worth the work"

    OK - when a book hits 50hrs+ you have to hope that its a goody. It is.

    My only experience of this work before this was as the title of a musical. I don't like musicals.

    But the book is brilliant. Like so many of the big beasts in literature there is quite a lot of peripheral philosophising but never so much that it gets tedious. The sweep of the story is amazing and the feeling as the story progresses of different threads being spun and woven is masterful. I ended up extending listening sessions in order to get to the finale quicker Definitely worth the effort to get all the way through.

    Frederick Davidson is an ever reliable narrator making this a real must listen.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lance Eck Billings, MT, United States 07-27-11
    Lance Eck Billings, MT, United States 07-27-11 Member Since 2008

    Onward

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    "Tres Miserables"

    A favorite book but the narrator is so unpleasant to listen to that I began to gnaw my own leg off to get away.

    Davidson ruins the story with his haughty-sounding intonation. I had to give-up after about 20 minutes.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 11-20 of 104 results PREVIOUS12311NEXT
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  • Isabella
    Brasilia, Brazil
    12/1/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Think you know the story? Think again."
    Would you listen to Les Miserables again? Why?

    Yes, it is long. Yes, you know the basic plot. Yes, you've seen it on stage and on screen. But there is so much more to the book than to the musical! The stage production is great, but it only scratches the surface. There is so much thinking behind each character. Their reflections and actions are so rich, complex and profound. You can always take something different if you listen again. I have lost count of how many times I have listened to Jean Valjan arguing with himself whether or not to turn himself in. It is a fantastic story which manages to belong and represent its time so well without ever ceasing to be relevant. Victor Hugo's preface about why books like this are needed says it all. For as long as there is injustice and miserable lives, it will be worth listening, reading or watching this mastere piece again.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Beverley
    Birmingham, United Kingdom
    10/10/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring Narrator"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I remember reading this book many years ago and thoroughly enjoying at the time and had always intended revisiting. Having long journeys to work I thought it would be a quick win to listen to. I am so disappointed as I find the narration so boring despite restarting several times. Have decided to give it a miss for now.

    I notice there are several versions of this available and if anyone can recommend a good narrator it would be much appreciated.


    Has Les Miserables put you off other books in this genre?

    No


    What didn’t you like about Frederick Davidson’s performance?

    Just boring


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Life Scientist
    United Kingdom
    9/13/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Phenomenal story but a test of endurance at times"
    What made the experience of listening to Les Miserables the most enjoyable?

    The narrator has a very laid-back style which I initially found distracting but quickly settled to. He has a great ability to distinctly voice so many of the characters.

    It's a monumental story, filled with a continual stream of regular digressions which do rather go on (I imagine the book would be considerably shorter but for these).


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    Quite a few to choose from - Valjean and the bishop, Cosette's rescue from the Tennardiers, Javert's pursuit of Valjean, the Paris uprising, the list goes on. The last few chapters are very emotive and should be listened to in one sitting if possible.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    60h in one sitting? No thanks!


    Any additional comments?

    Can feel like a test of endurance at times, but it's well worth persisting with.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • MRM
    Scotland
    8/22/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Shame about the Narrator"
    Would you be willing to try another one of Frederick Davidson’s performances?

    I will not try any more audiobooks narrated by Frederick Davidson if there are significant quantities of French involved. I speak French fluently having lived in France for 4 years, but I cannot understand more than one word out of three of his attempts at French. It's like listening to someone chewing tobacco while delivering a speech in Latin. He does fine for the most, the English language far outweighs the French in this production, but his French is abominable.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • matt
    innerleithen, United Kingdom
    10/24/10
    Overall
    "A true great"

    A classic read that is well presented. I was recommended this book 20 years ago. i knew i would never get round to reading it myself. To get the chance of someone read it to you so well while you drive the car is good.
    My only criticism of the work (and it is a minor niggle) was that it goes off on rambling tangents that can last for an hour or more. An example is his description of the (entire) battle of Waterloo. this is to add background to one minor character and one scene. That said my knowledge of the battle is now enhanced and I did enjoy this tangent! The descriptive prose lends well to these ramblings and holds the interest.
    Ignore what is said in comments about the narrator's reading (in this and other books he narrates), he puts a great effort and all the characters come alive with his take on them. all are distinct and easy to follow. I'm going on to F. Davidson's version of War and Peace next.

    A marvellous audiobook - enjoy

    3 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Alison
    7/13/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "The clue is in the title"
    What disappointed you about Les Miserables?

    The relentless dreariness.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    Thank goodness that's over!


    How could the performance have been better?

    A bit more characterisation


    Any additional comments?

    Go for the abridged version, this one went on far too long

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Anna
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    6/6/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Addictive"
    What made the experience of listening to Les Miserables the most enjoyable?

    The complexity of the story and the detailed side strands eg. Battle of Waterloo. The reading which gave it a comforting storytelling style took you into a French world.
    This book hooked me but if it doesn't I suspect you would actually dislike it.


    What other book might you compare Les Miserables to, and why?

    Dickens maybe. War and Peace? but nothing really compares with the immense scope and intricate detail of this book and the simplicity of the core story.


    What did you like about the performance? What did you dislike?

    Correct use of the French names, etc but no attempt to 'sound French'
    I liked the consistent level of reading regardless of the situations being read.
    No dislikes.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Impossible due to the length. I have often listened to as much as I could at one sitting but it can be overwhelming so I've also listened to a much lighter work during the same weeks. It has taken me weeks not days to finish! Now I miss it....


    Any additional comments?

    Listened to after seeing the show then more recently the film and while it hasn't detracted from their quality it is an astounding written work.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • P
    GUERNSEY, United Kingdom
    5/11/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A test of endurance"

    I did persevere and listened almost to the long awaited conclusion (I fell asleep just before the end). The story line itself was reasonable, but oh, I wish I had purchased an abridged version. I normally like to listen to an unabridged version no matter how long, but this book seemed to have been padded out with lengthy, unnecessary and boring chapters. I shan't be listening to anything else written by Victor Hugo!
    On the plus side, the narration by Frederick Davidson was good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • N. D. Holt
    Bayern, Germany
    2/4/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Beyond a marathon!"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    No.

    I did enjoy the book, but I'd recommend the abridged version. This is a classic, and rightly so but Victor Hugo's divergences from the story to demonstrate is vast knowledge on so many areas dragged the story out, and in the end detracted from whole.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jean Valjean. It's his story and as a character he is so wonderfully portrayed.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    At times both


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Melissa
    Chidham, United Kingdom
    1/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Struggling"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone with a lot of time!


    Has Les Miserables put you off other books in this genre?

    No, I'm familiar with French lit of this period and have enjoyed other novels in this genre.


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Frederick Davidson?

    His narration has put me off this story I'm sorry to say. Someone who could give more light and shade to the narration. Maybe Robert Lindsay.


    What character would you cut from Les Miserables?

    I've not got far enough to say.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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