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
This is a 60 hour-long delight, magnificently read by Frederick Davidson (aka David Case), one of the best narrators ever, who will be sorely missed. It is truly amazing how vividly he renders this doorstop of a novel -- the elaborate descriptions, the multiplicity of voices, and the songs. He does a pretty good French pronunciation, too!
The genius of Hugo (and Dickens) is that he understands that everyone is the hero of their own life. They aren't just accessories in someone else's. In that sense he's one of the world's most democratic writers. The story of each character is worth listening to for its own sake.
It sure would be nice to hear this story in a language we can understand. My son and I tried to listen and got frustrated because we couldn't understand the narrator. The accent is way too thick to be able to follow the narration. Disappointing.
All I knew of Les Miserables was what I learned in the musical of the same name! I found this audible selection very entertaining and thought provoking. I really enjoyed learning "the backround" to a play that I truly loved. Though very long, I found it held my interest for the most part...though the description of the nunnery seemed to last forever! I will definitely get part 2 next month.
The narrator sounds like he is bored with the story and drags it along miserably. I wanted to listen to the unabridged version, and I suffered through on the strength of the writing, occasionally searching to see if there wasn't someone else who had narrated the book. Sadly there wasn't at the time. Now there is a new translation with a new narrator and it is getting very good reviews. I will buy that one and listen again.
On the other hand, an acquaintance heard me complain about it and she listened to him, saying he just sounded like an upper class Brit . . . so maybe my American expectations have colored my review. Sample both versions and see what you think.
Already listened twice. Will surely listen again.
Jean Valjean. He was man of character who was trying to live up to the example & teachings of Jesus.
This audiobook sounds like it was recorded in a tin room with a narrator who was gasping for breath. His accents and pronunciation were fine.
The story is great. The book can be a bit wordy and at times tedious, but the depth of the descriptions of places, characters and the general feel of the period make it worth while. Frederick Davidson is not, however the voice I want in my head as I take this journey.
This book is full of memorable moments.
Better narrator or combination of narrators would help.
Lots of moments of rejoicing and tears.
I am unlikely to purchase another Victor Hugo book, and will try to keep an open mind about Frederick Davidson who may be an innocent casualty of my listening experience.
My ignorance may be a factor in this review which reluctantly disparages "Les Miserables." It does appear to be a book written for a distinctly different era in which writers were paid by the word. While Hugo is quite gifted as a writer and thoughtful as an observer, he bored me nearly to death with his pontifications, his tendency to meander away from the meat of the story into lengthy and tedious detail and his predictable and saccharine ending. I particularly disliked the portions that were done in song and in French by Mr. Davidson. Two or three minutes of listening to someone with a poor to average singing voice sing words I could not understand did not add to my listening enjoyment. I finished the audiobook today after pushing myself to listen a little bit every day hoping that I might conclude the book with something good to say. In the end, I concluded I had done the right thing to complete what I had started, but it brought as much joy as one gets when finishing a plate of vegetables you hate but know are good for you. I acknowledge again that my ignorance of Hugo and literature from 1862 may render my critique useless to other listeners, but for average people such as me this book should not be purchased for entertainment or illumination; it should be undertaken as one does any other chore you sense may contribute to character building. At least now I can say I have completed this famous book.
There was very little I liked, unfortunately. I disliked most of the book, but especially the parts where Mr. Davidson was asked to sing for several minutes in French.
Let's let Les Miserables and Victor Hugo remain an important part of history.
Lynne at www.dollssoreal.com
I love the story of Les Miserables. I have seen the play over 10 times in the US and abroad. I am a bit disappointed by the narrator as not only does his mouth seem full of saliva, he takes a breath between every sentence. I cannot focus on the story because of the annoying tic.
Take some speech lessons and don't take deep breaths between each sentence.
I don't know whether this book is now simply outside of its era but I found the prose very boring. It reminded me of Dickens in that the underling story is fantastic but it's delivery was very difficult to follow. I think the fact that this is an audio book exacerbated the problem. The author seems to go into every intricate details and minutia that really aren't necessary. There is no wonder that it is such a long book. Just to be clear I haven't watched the recent film so my opinions weren't colored by preconceptions and I actually usually prefer longer novels as it allows the author time to fully develop characters. In this case though the author has strayed too far in that direction. I often wished he'd just get on with the story. I have rarely read abridged versions of anything but think on this occasion that is exactly the treatment the book deserves. All in all a good story ruined by being too drawn out and over long.
"Not finished with this book, yet!"
I have taken a break from this book, to listen to other audiobooks but I may get back to it. It is a classic and anyone who has seen the musical or film will know the general story. But oh it is so long. There are long passages such as the battle of Waterloo, which serve to introduce a minor character or some anecdote that gives reason for someone's actions later in life.
I love all the passages that feature the main characters but some of the rest I'd gladly do without. I can safely say that I would never have read this book, for this reason audiobooks are perfect, for me, to listen to while I'm driving or in the gym. I may get back to this some day but for now I'm listening to something shorter and modern!
I was surprised at Frederick Davidson's narration at first and found his accent and deep voice a bit unusual but as the book progressed I quite enjoyed it and his voice characterisations are spot on!
"A fantastic journey."
I had put off listening to this audio book even though I bought it a year ago, due to the length, and one review which stated it took them 5 mths to listen to it! But I am a huge a Les Miseables fan having seen the stage show 3 times and the been to 25th Anniversary concert, and can sing almost word for word the score! And now the new film version! ............... I have been to cinema to see 4 times!! So it was time for to read or listen to the book. I started reading the book on my kindle and thought it would take me forever to get through so I turned to the audio book. It was brilliant, and the narrator is great, I found it a pleasure to listen to. I listened going out running, while doing my housework, in bed, in the car, on the train, really whenever I could, (thanks to my iphone I could listen just about anywhere!!) I just couldn't put it down! There are some long descriptive parts that do drag on and lose your interest, like the internal workings of the Paris sewer system! But the main story is riviting and fills in all the blanks of the stage and film versions. It took me just over a week to listen to it all!! And needless to say my family of husband and 6 kids are delighted I am finished!! The last chapter is especially intense and I was in floods of tears (as always!), (I don't want to give anything away in case someone doesn't know the story....!) I feel my Les Miserables journey is complete..............I now know the FULL story and it is fantastic!!
I first read this book 30 years ago when a young teenager and recall saving the last few pages because I did not want it to end, but I cannot say the same about this audiobook. The narrator has been mentioned by other reviewers; I found his supercilious tone grated and in some portions of the story, where we divert from the main theme into a history of France, it was impossible not to switch off mentally. Initially I tried rewinding but as I know the story have eventually just pushed on. I have not yet finished listening for the reasons given above but will definitely return to the book in future. Please do not let this put you off Les Miserable..it can be a wonderful story.
"The most boring narration ever!"
I love the stories in Les Miserables. I've read the book a couple if times, seen the stage play half a dozen times and will be seeing the film on Thursday. How sad then that this crashingly boring narration has meant that I haven't been able to get past the first part. It sounds like the narrator is thinking that there's nothing interesting in this novel. I can't send it back so one of these days I might try to struggle through, but then again, probably not. Don't bother folks. There are better options out there.
very long and at times it seems to give irrelevant information but then it pulls all the information threads into plot. I really enjoyed listening to every minute of it and Frederick Davidson narrates it beautifully. I would never have got through reading the book and if I had I wouldn't have got as much out of it as I did listening to this audio.
"Dull and rambles on"
Get the abridged version - this guy has the worst accent and sounds annoying - I listened to all 60 hours of this tripe - the story is annoying and there are hours of wasted description for no reason other than to prove the author is clever. get the abridged version - save yourself hours of time - same story less description
"Difficult to know what to expect sometimes"
OK, so this is a classic. Hugo created two of the most memorable characters in literature - a heroic criminal and a villainous policeman - ironies abound and the plot is excellent.
But it is a product of it's time and modern readers may be surprised by the number and LENGTH of the side stories that really don't add that much to the central story. If I was criticizing this as a modern book, I would accuse the author of an incredible amount of padding in order to stretch the contents to fill several TV series when the option was bought... And perhaps this is not so far from the truth - it would not surprise me if the book was originally serialized for publication in a periodical...
Perhaps you think my 2 stars is too harsh, and I'm just someone who is judging the book in comparison to my foreshortened experience of the story via a musical or a film - and there would be some truth to this. I'm quite a big fan of the film version starring Liam Neeson. But I would still defend my opinion that a readers digest version would be an improvement and the book could use some serious editing.
On the plus side the narrator is pretty good (although a little effeminate for my taste.
"Epic tale of revolutionary France"
Not for the fainthearted! Around 57 hours. Worth persevering with. The underlying story is brilliant, with the characters being well portrayed. Background details are amazing , quite apart from the story itself. If you don't like detail, such as names, places, dates etc., which tie in with historical fact usually, then possibly a good abridgement might be better for you. Personally, next time I listen to this, I will fast forward some of the chapters.
There is plenty of action, but it does drag in parts. You have battles, revolution, a great hero, some tender romantic moments, bloodthirsty bits, scary bits...it's all there. Well worth persevering with.
"Amazing novel - well worth the long listen!"
OK, it's long - very long, and as with novels of this time, has long sections that go off on a tangent. But absolutely compelling, and excellent narration. The characters are wonderfully developed, the background so well presented that you believe you are there - even in the sewers! Worth every second.
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