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 found the unabriged Les Mis an excellent listen. It's interesting enough to keep one from thinking of other things at the end of a long day, but not so interesting it kept me awake. The three volumes have been my bedtime story for the last year. I settle in to bed, set my iPod to turn itself off in thirty minutes, click play, turn the volume down low and let the reader's sexy French accent carry me off to dreamland. Hugo's masterpiece is sublimely suited for this purpose--missing a few minutes here and there doesn't detract from the overall experience of the book. Listeners who are accustomed to the less wordy novels of our time may find Les Miserables frustrating. A contemporary novel is like swimming brisk laps; Hugo's work is like closing your eyes and floating along in the current, trusting to the author's able pen to make the journey pleasant and rewarding. It takes some getting used to, but once you've gotten the knack of relaxing into the pacing, the book's ponderous plot is charming, and its characters richly evoked.
I read the book first, but I confess I skipped over much of the "digressions" I guess you would call them and skipped around just to follow the plot. I guess I'm a lazy reader that way. Now to hear them read to me, especially the French phrases and names I had so much difficulty with, I feel I'm getting a whole new perspective. Yes, Davidson is challenging at times but if you listen closely, he really does a beautiful job narrating. Check out his "I Claudius" for a truly superb narration.
trying to see the world with my ears
It's been years since I listened to this, but recent criticisms of narrator Davidson in the $5.95 promotion of this version of Les Miserables prompt me to weigh in. Since this is an older recording, Davidson is reading in a more "classically" delivered style. I think it fits the text beautifully. Because the novel is a favourite, I also downloaded the equally wonderful - but later and different - George Guidall version. It's also excellent. So - if you're considering this because of the special price, listen to the sample and know that Davidson's style can "grow" on you, especially for 19th century text. One caveat: My download was in an earlier format - I do notice from the sample at least that the "enhanced" conversion of the files might accentuate the "breathing" sounds narrators make --all narrators breathe, so I think it's the production, not Davidson, that brings these sounds out. I like a classic British narrator for prose like this, so I like the late Mr Davidson - you may not.
Finally, if you are looking for a faster paced "Les Mis", there are other revisions of Hugo's novel that might appeal more. Audible is awesome for making the original of this novel available at so accessible a price. It's a different journey than the film (especially the Davidson narrated version) , but one worth making.
Takes a LONG time to listen to but well worth it. Narration is excellent. The only thing I will say is I found it odd that the narrator has an English accent given the amount of French in the translated text. Other than that, the narrator does an admirable job bringing characters to life over such a long novel. The quality of the narration is critical to making an audio book listenable. I have bought some books that were simply unlistenable but this one is excellent.
This is a fantastic book. The story is amazing. It was entertaining but at the same time enlightening. I felt blessed for what I have and resolved to be a better person. It such a moving story I am a little surprised their are not more reviews of it. I have read the book and seen the play several times but I don't believe that you need to be familiar with the story to enjoy this book on tape.
As far as the quality of this offering I would say that the naration was very good. The voices are great and really fit the characters. I have to admit that in places the descriptions get a little long and some of the monologues are a bit over the top but I felt well rewarded for my patience. At the end of the book you feel edified and uplifted.
Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.
I have listened to this book at least three times now and it is still one of the most enjoyable books I have ever experienced. The narrator is perfect for the time period and one soon forgets about him all together. This is really several books all in one. The plays and movies can never do justice to this story as it is so wide and deep that one would have to make a nine season television series on the BBC to cover it all. Listen to the book and then listen to it again. You will be rewarded with many things you missed on the first go around. All aspects of humanity are illuminated and thoroughly examined in Hugo's tireless style. Settle in and enjoy this book. It is worth every second.
Computer Programmer and Worship Leader. Have enjoyed reading since my mom got me hooked on Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie prior to my teen years. My brother got me hooked on audio books after I started having a longer commute to work. Love a variety of genres.
It took me quite a while to get through this (about 3 months), but it was worth it in the end. The redeeming nature of the story and the themes make it a "must read".
As was mentioned by many others, the digressions (history of the sewer system, history of a particular convent and religious order, etc..) got tiresome, however the degree to which this annoys people can vary greatly.
I disagree with those who thought the narrator was poor. I can't believe someone would have the stamina to get through this monstrosity! I would only agree that the narrator should NEVER consider a career in singing. That part was absolutely awful! However his ability to use different voices for the many different characters was commendable.
I have one recommendation for those who may choose to read this. If yo know little or nothing about the French Revolution, it will be worth the effort to pick up a Sparks Notes or Cliff Notes on the French Revolution and read up before you start. It will greatly aid in your understanding.
Once again, the story is fantastic and the investment is time well spent. Just be prepared to struggle a bit at times.
I adore the narrator, David Case/Frederick Davidson (I only recently learned they are the same person). I can't believe anyone would fault him for his singing voice. I doubt someone with a better singing voice could hold one's attention and use inflection better than he does. His ability to switch between characters and maintain their personas is unsurpassed in my opinion.
Several years ago, I listened to the unabridged version that I checked out from my public library. Wishing to revisit it, I recently purchased it on CD, not realizing it was the abridged version. I am now downloading this version because there is a lot that has been skipped. Yes, it is long but I get a lot of laundry folded, dishes washed and other mindless tasks completed while immersed in this book and the characters!
Les Miserables is my favorite novel of all time. It is a big, long, involved book. You may want to read an abridged version, although I would not.
Some people have compared Jean Valjean to a Christ-type figure, but I strongly disagree with the analogy. Rather, the Bishop of Digne is most definitely the Christ figure. Valjean becomes, by virtue of the Good Man buying his soul, a counter part of Everyman. As he tries to make himself an honest man, he goes through struggle after struggle, but with the determination to live up to the vision the Bishop had of him when he gave Valjean the silver. The Bishop seems to already have transcended the bigger part of his humanness, and in fact, as he pays for the sins of Valjean, seems to have completed his work of becoming perfect. The silver was his last holdout, his last symbol of desiring the things of the earth, and he gave them away without a second thought when he realized that another of God's sons needed it worse. As I watch Valjean's transformation, it is impossible not to see myself in him.
Now, about the narrator. I have read reviews on Frederick Davidson that consider him everywhere from the absolute worst to someone you have to acquire a taste for. I am in the latter category. When I first started listening, I really wondered if I could listen to him read my golden book for 60 hours. Eventually, however, I came to love the man as a narrator, and forgave without a thought his little idiosyncrasies. His characterizations are without equal, and I have heard some pretty astounding narrators. As I listened to the last three hours of Les Miserables, I was putty in Davidson's hands. I cannot even express in words what it was like to listen to him read this most tender and spiritual part. By the end, I was a slobbering mess, but thanking my God for this book, this author and this reader, and the lessons I had learned once again.
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.)
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