One of the great classics of world literature and the inspiration for the most beloved stage musical of all time, Les Misérables is legendary author Victor Hugo’s masterpiece. This extraordinary English version by renowned translator Julie Rose captures all the majesty and brilliance of Hugo’s work. Here is the timeless story of the quintessential hunted man—Jean Valjean—and the injustices, violence, and social inequalities that torment him.
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“Rich and gorgeous. This is the [translation] to read.” (Times (London))
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Les Misérables is one of those defining social/protest novels that deserves to be read (and listened to) in its entirety. It is easily on par with the great social novels of the 19th century: Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, Uncle Tom's Cabin and Hard Times.
I remember the first time I read the unabridged version in high school, I was stunned that Hugo could engage me with such force. I practically read it straight through. Listening to Rose's relatively new translation and Guidall's audio version, I was transported back to the emotions and engagement I felt 20 years ago. All those memories and I was again anchored to my pro-unabridged novel bias. If you are going to attempt this work, please go the unabridged route, you will NOT regret it. There are few books I've read twice, but Les Misérables defintely makes the cut.
When you begin this novel it DOES looks like a beast (1376 pgs or 60.5 hours), but when you finish it you realize you have sat down to a feast with a master novelist and social gospel writer. Dollar per page or dollar per minute, you can't get much better for its price, unless you steal it.
Nothing to add to the glowing recommendations from so many other readers. Brilliant story, excellent narration. George Guidall is a master at this kind of epic storytelling. I would only note that there are a few passages in the book (and the audiobook) that discuss the patois of the French criminal class. These passages are probably untranslatable, and I found listening to them baffling and frustrating. (Reading them in the print edition, with notes, is less baffling but equally frustrating.) My advice is to close your ears and ride these passages out, or speed up to 3x in the Audible app till you get past them. You won't miss anything important to the story.
Note that this is NOT a suggestion to skip past the histories of convents, Waterloo, and the Paris sewer system. Those you SHOULD listen to, at least once, even if you skip over them for the rest of your life.
At first I was not familiar with Victor Hugo's style of writing. It would start to get very interesting and then all of a sudden he was off on another topic. That knocked me for a loop, until I got into the swing of things, and treated each new topic as a new book. In the end it all came together and was an amazing experience.
Out of both unabridged versions of this book on audible, I found George Guidall to be the better narrator. I had the opportunity to listen to the first few hours of the other version, and could not understand the narrator very well. I was very happy to get this one where I had no problem understanding the English. Great book.
Les Miserables is more of a quest than a book. It is a huge book that meanders along taking many long detours but eventually arriving at its destination. You must be prepared for a long journey, don't be the child who continually asks "are we there yet?"
The narrative of this journey follows Jean Valjean an ex-convict who finds redemption, love, and seeks to do good. Along the way we get long discourses on slang, politics, the street urchins of Paris, the sewers of Paris, and the Battle of Waterloo to name a few (there are many long detours). There are also many subplots and stories, such as the Bishop of Digne which opens the book. There are many long detours, many.
Is the book worth the time? I think it is, it is a wonderful story and the long detours add much to the experience. It is named Les Miserables for the portrait of the poor that it gives, but it does not idolize them, it shows the good and the bad, the weak and the strong. It should encourage you do go out and help some one.
This particular translation is advertised as being more earthy and closer to the French of Hugo than the more staid traditional translations. It is more earthy, more sprightly and not academic, but not knowing French I can't say if it is actually closer to Hugo or not. Some translation choices seem odd to me (clink for jail) but once you get into the flow of the story it works.
The narrator is one of the best in the business and he does a commendable job here.
So, should you read this book? I think so, I highly recommend it.
Would I read it again? Yes I will, in a while, when I'm ready for a long, long journey.
It's one of the best. The narration touched my soul.
I fell in love with Jean Valjean and rooted for him and Cosette.
Too long for that!
Nothing compares to this book.
Don't miss this one
I have purchased over 180 books thru Audible.
This is by far the best.
The story and the narration are incredible.
Yes, I tried to listen to Les Miserables Unabridged Narrated by Frederick Davidson - countless times and due to the translation it was slow going and I could never finish it. This translation by Julie Rose is wonderful and flows as you would expect an native English story to. As anyone with a thesaurus can attest there are countless ways to say the same thing in English. Julie Rose has a knack of choosing the right words!
As mentioned above the other version on audible is not translated into English as fluently.
He's wonderful. He has a wonderful aged voice - he's a master story teller!
Fantine's death and plea for the care of her daughter Cosette - always a tear jerker!
I doubt it, but it was amazing.
Difficult to chose - perhaps Gavroche.
In the apartment when Jean was about to be killed & Javert almost caught him - suspense at its very best!
It haunts me. I never knew there was so much left out in the musical, as it would've been impossible to cover it all. Victor Hugo was truly gifted. I would, however, recommend listening to another great read, "The Greater Journey" by David McCullough, before reading Les Mis - it includes a terrific history of Paris, including Victor Hugo's humanitarian activities. I can't wait to see the movie premiering this Christmas!
Highly recommend - don't be intimidated by its length - take your time and savor it!
I love the opera version of Les Mis. I was hesitant to read the book because I did not think it would be as entertaining. Wrong! If anything, Victor Hugo paints the characters and the scenes so vividly, I can't stop listening! This is easily becoming my favorite book.
Hugo's sympathy with the oppressed; the grand scope of the novel; Hugo's gift for fine metaphors and aphorisms; some of the dramatic scenes; the sensitive narration.
Absurdly long, detailed tedious digressive essays on things like the battle of Waterloo, the history of convents, the history and geography of the Parisian sewers; hard-to-believe characters who act in unbelievable ways; corny melodrama and sentimentality; excessively long and repetitious accounts of almost everything due, it seems, to Hugo's sheer delight in showing off his poetic inventiveness.
I have great tolerance for long 19th century novels. But so often I found myself thinking: come on Victor, you've said everything you've got to say abou this event, character, situation, action, motivation, relationship, dilemma. All you're doing now is just repeating yourself using alternative metaphors. Let's get moving! I also found the plot pretty silly in places; a lot depends on coincidence and people acting in unbelievable ways.
Hugo's philosophical reflections, which abound throughout, are sometimes interesting; but he's too much in love with paradox and coupling unexpected antitheses--a tendency which has bedeviled French writing ever since.
The narration is good. I liked the translation: it employs up-to-date language which makes the novel less stodgy than it might otherwsie be.
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