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Les Miserables

Narrated by: Walter Covell
Length: 33 hrs and 13 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (168 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Les Miserables is set in the Parisian underworld. The protagonist, Jean Valjean, is sentenced to prison for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. After his release, Valjean plans to rob monseigneur Myriel, a saint-like bishop, but cancels his plan. However, he forfeits his parole by committing a minor crime, and for this crime Valjean is haunted by the police inspector Javert. Valjean eventually reforms and becomes, under the name of M. Madeleine, a successful businessman, benefactor, and mayor of a northern town. To save an innocent man, Valjean gives himself up and is imprisoned in Toulon. He escapes and adopts Cosette, an illegitimate child of a poor woman, Fantine. Cosette grows up and falls in love with Marius, who is wounded during a revolutionary fight. Valjean rescues Marius by means of a flight through the sewers of Paris. All seems headed for a happy ending until Javert shows up again and this leads to an incredible climax.

About the abridgement
The one major issue of this book is Hugo's long "asides" in which he departs from the action to write about anything he finds of interest. In the printed version, one can simply flip by those pages to get back to the story. That is not so easy in an audio version so these tangents have been removed. The whole story, all 33 plus hours of it, remains.

©1989 Jimcin Recordings

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

astounding

I went into this title expecting it to be a challenge, and it was that. But oh what a wonderful challenge!! Anyone who has ever said "you are what your read" would be telling the truth having read Les Miserables, because having finished it I truly believe it has become a part of who I am. One thing is for certain, when Victor Hugo sets out to make a point he definitely makes one, whether you want to wait for it to finally be over with or not! And just when you think you cannot bear for him to continue, he stops and returns back to the story, weaves it together perfectly, and you feel a sublime sense of awareness at having listened and understood exactly what he is trying to convey. While spinning on a point until it is driven into the ground, describing multiple complex details of dozens and dozens of characters that you are certain you will never be able to retain, like the composer of the most intricate symphony, the result is magnificent, and the characters are alive in your heart and mind. Initially I thought the narration had a somewhat "high school documentary" tone to it, but as it progressed it became enchanting, and although I do not speak French so I do not know if his pronunciations were correct, I thought it was beautifully done. Some of the recording/play quality was a little off, and there was a point where a whole "chapter" was repeated (when Cosette goes to the well at night), and another where a "chapter" heading was repeated, but other than that it was very clear and well done. Definitely time well spent! Some day I will try to tackle the double-length unabridged version to get more of the "thoughts of the day" from Hugo.

31 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Well done

I tried listening to another, full length version of this book and didn't get very far. The "asides" were just too much to take. This, while still quite long, cut to the heart of the story and was quite fascinating. A wonderful reading as well.

25 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Long but Beautiful

I read this as a precursor to watching the play. I was a little skeptical to begin with due to it's length. In the end I was extremely pleased by the book. It gave huge insights into the story that I loved (from the play and the movie). Having read the book, I would claim this is one of the most beautiful stories of all time.

21 of 21 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Abridged? Never! Except this time.

I loved the Broadway musical. I greatly enjoyed the movie too. What I liked best about the movie is it added some details from the book that were impossible to include on the stage. However, as often happens, the book reigns triumphant over any other version of Victor Hugo's masterpiece.

However, Hugo was ridiculously wordy with literally hundreds of pages that he himself admits are irrelevant to the story. As such, I highly recommend this abridged version for any normal human beings who, unlike me, do not feel obsessively compulsed to read unabridged versions. I also recommend this version to those who have already waded through the unabridged version, and (like me) loved it enough to enjoy the story again.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

One of the Greatest Literary Heroes of all time!

What did you like best about this story?

I read this book ages ago, and it was one of my favorites. Jean Viljean is the selfless hero we all strive to eventually become. The whole of his life was given in service to others, and nothing but the acceptance and love of Cossette was asked in return. I also enjoy the description of the Frence social caste, and the stigma associated with being a criminal. Describes are system perfectly today.

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

Female porter to Jean Viljean " Do you need a Priest?" Jean Viljean "I have one".

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The classic comes to life

I enjoyed this version very much. The narrative is clear and understandable. Of course, the story is a classic story of legalism vs Christian Grace.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Choices, Consequences, and Foregiveness

I LOVED THIS BOOK! It is by far one of the best works of classical literature I have ever listened to. Audible was the perfect format to enjoy it. It does have a lot of untranslated French and it is quite long. It is not a book for someone who wants light fluffy subject matter or a short read. I think it is the best book about choices, consequences, and foregiveness that I have ever read. The characters are rich and three-dimensional. Sometimes bad characters bring about good, and sometimes the good characters make bad choices, or jump to conclusions which are wrong. I will probably listen to it again and would recommend it highly to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. I am a big fan of the musical, so this was awesome to fill in a lot of the back story. If you enjoyed the musical too, beware! Several things in the book are different, but, in my opinion, not in a bad way. Enjoy!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

not miserable but poorly

this is the slightly abridged version, but appears pretty much complete. still, i felt a bit befuddled, as i started out listening to the story. who or what was it about? i realised it's a book from about a 150 years ago, but even so, the translation sounded a bit clumsy, unable to cope, in english, with the style and mannerisms of the author, things which must have seemed quite natural in the original. by chance i was listening to a complete german version of the same book, read by gert westphal, and it seemed to roll off the reader's tongue with a great deal more ease and facility. i downloaded a printed english translation -- a different one from the one used here -- which turned out to be older and much clumsier, but somehow showed a great deal more detail. still and all, it was difficult trying to read and listen to two separate versions of the book. in the end, having somehow found my way into the story, i just sat there listening, and i gradually accepted that this was all i was going to get.

my feeling now is that a much more modern and much more fluent translation needs to be obtained from somewhere, and possibly be entrusted to a younger and less magisterial reader, who should potentially be someone with a smidgen of actual knowledge of french -- which zee present readahr does not appear to be endowed with to any degree.

given that this is such a great book -- witness the westphal reading -- i think english language listeners deserve something equal if not superior, and this version is somewhat wide of the mark.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Abridged copy is just as good if not better

I have read the unabridged version and I listened to this abridged version and I was very happy that I made that choice. I didn't feel that I missed anything with the abridged version and I definitely avoided wanting to reach back through time and strangle Victor Hugo's publisher for not insisting on edits. This book is a classic of Western literature and it is heartrendingly beautiful (even though Marius is an idiot) . THe the reader was enjoyable and did a good job even though almost all of his women sounded the same, usually there was only one woman in the scene so it worked out. There was a chapter that repeated itself and a couple of chapters where the audio quality went way down but otherwise I was very happy.

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Life Changining! inspiring! Wonderful.

I have seen the movie and the play, but loved the performamce of the book and all the details it filled in.

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    1 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Phil
  • Phil
  • 10-26-08

mmmmmmm

rubbish recording
sounds like a robot with a speach problem
dont buy it !!

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Alison
  • 06-02-11

Far too long!

Far too long, with endless musings and philosophy. I dare not think what the full version is like!

1 of 2 people found this review helpful