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Editorial Reviews

Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame tells the sad-yet-hopeful story of Quasimodo who loved kind Esmeralda to death. This classic example of French gothic literature has inspired numerous adaptations because of its enchanting story and beloved characters. George Guidall gives a performance deserving of Hugo's masterpiece. He effortlessly handles characters' French accents and engages the listener's imagination with well-placed pauses. This audiobook is a cathartic meditation on love and loyalty, enjoyable for every moment of its 22 hours.

Publisher's Summary

Quasimodo was born disfigured, hunchbacked and lame, and years spent ringing the bells of the Cathedral of Notre Dame have left him deaf, but also spared him the taunts of the cruel mobs of Paris. Now Quasimodo has fallen in love with the lovely Gypsy girl Esmeralda, the only person who ever showed pity on him - but she faces a death sentence, and only Quasimodo's pure spirit can save her. Or can he?

Translated by Catherine Liu.

Public Domain (P)1991 Recorded Books

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Overwhelmingly sad

George Guidall is the perfect choice to narrate this sad tale: he brings a gravity to the story that adds to the pathos but does not drag down the narrative.

If you're not familiar with the story, or know it only from the sanitized film versions, be forewarned: there is little here but heartbreak. Quasimodo's fate is more closely tied to Esmeralda's than you might imagine, and Phoebus and Pierre Gringoire are both unmitigated scoundrels. The famous attack on Notre Dame, beaten back by Quasimodo, is not a heroic action but the result of a tragic misunderstanding. It's not a kid's story, maybe not even one for sensitive adolescents.

The novel has some weaknesses. I've read it several times, and I still get annoyed by the long essay on Paris architecture that Hugo drops into the middle of the story. I know his digressions have fans, but I'm not one of them. If the audiobook were organized by chapters, I would suggest skipping over these, especially if this is your first time reading it; but unfortunately it's organized by CD.

All that aside, though - the digressions, the overwhelming sadness of the story - it really is a masterpiece, and in Guidall's hands it retains both its pace and its power. A drop of water and a little pity, says Quasimodo. That's what it was all about.

23 of 23 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Tragic endings in Paris of 1482

The story of the hunchback is not as well known as that of Les Miserables. There are fewer movies and no Broadway play. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is facinating and horrifying and tragic. I felt immersed in Victor Hugo's Paris of 1482, with its gallows at every crossroads and its levels of local justice. I wept at the end and even felt pity for the evil Arch Deacon. The narrator is excellent although the sound quality, converted from type 1 to type 2, is marginal. The recording should be restored/reconverted properly.

19 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Elana
  • Annapolis, MD, USA
  • 10-25-05

Good book, bad quality

While this is a great book the sound quality makes it really difficult to listen to in the car! I find myself cranking up the volume all the way and still having a hard time hearing it.

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Mistake in Publisher's Summary section

This audio book is based on book of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Dover Thrift Editions)" translated by A. L. Alger, not by Catherine Liu.

Amazon link as follow
http://www.amazon.com/Hunchback-Notre-Thrift-Editions-ebook/dp/B007X0TZ0G/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1369418082&sr=1-3

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Amazing

The reader does a wonderful job- accents and pronounciations are superb. The story is fascinating, though I see why Disney wanted to rewrite the tragic ending. A bit of the description of Paris is rambling, without a map to help envision the locational references the author makes. Sound quality could be better, but it's not bad. A must read classic- highly recommended.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

just amazing

Get past the first 5 or so hours and you wont be able to put it down. The Hunchback of Notre Dame is all that it should be. Tragic love, gothic beauty and horror and the straddling of the knife's edge between dichotomies that Victor Hugo is so well known for.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Roxanne
  • Marrero, LA, USA
  • 05-27-09

Great story

Great story. Author evokes the setting and times very well. Lots of intrigue and suspense. Entertaining. Good reader.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

The Story is Thrilling, but the Tangents are Tirin

--SPOILERS-- I first became familiar with the title "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" from the Disney movie. But finally after so many years, I decided to read the actual book. Naturally, being from the same author of "Les Miserables", this book is much darker than the cutesy Disney film and ends rather grimly. The main thing I liked about the book is that a lot of the characters are much more multi-dimensional (and also, there are a lot of very interesting characters who aren't even mentioned in the movie). For example, Frollo isn't as much of a one-dimensional monstrous villain in the novel. He has compassion, adopting and bringing up Quasimodo (and Claude's own brother, Jean; one of many characters not in the movie) out of empathy rather than force. Claude's evil deeds didn't start until after meeting Esmeralda, and it can be debated that his deeds stemmed from madness and a very twisted love rather than mere hatred and malice. Quasimodo also wasn't as kind and friendly like in the film. He was indeed mistreated and victimized, and much of his hostility towards the people stemmed from this mistreatment. But he was hostile and violent and hateful nonetheless. He was more like The Phantom of the Opera than the Lizzie Velásquez-like character he was in the film. Esmeralda, though she did indeed stand up for herself and others on occasion--e.g. being willing to pull daggers on men who threatened her, and going against the mob to help both Quasimodo and a poet from being tormented and hung respectively--she wasn't a skilled fighter like in the film. Also she was a lot more chaste, timid, and bashful. She (and her dancing) wasn't described as sultry or seductive as Esmeralda was portrayed in the film. She fell in unconditional love with Phoebus immediately, and she didn't show any defiance towards him like Esmeralda did in the film when she first met him. Also Phoebus was very different. Instead of being a kind-hearted soldier willing to defy orders and stand up to leadership to help Esmeralda, his only interest in her was to have sex with her, as he had done already with many other women. After she was falsely accused and condemned to death, he wanted nothing to do with her and he went back to his own fiancé, leaving her to die without intervening. There's another main difference, and the way in which this book was much darker: Esmeralda is indeed hung, Frollo is murdered by Quasimodo, and Quasimodo dies by burying himself alive in the tomb where Esmeralda was placed. Like Quasimodo, the gypsies themselves were also not blameless outcasts mistreated only for being different. Many were indeed thieves, con artists, and kidnappers. Esmeralda herself was one of the children the gypsies stole from her real birth mother. As much depth as the story does have, it could have still been half the length and the story would not have lost any merit. There were literally chapters and chapters-worth of unnecessary, repetitive descriptions, and the author going on tangents about things irrelevant to the story. These parts are a test of endurance, but overall I feel the story was worth trudging through these other bits.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful Narration of a Haunting Story

Hunchback of Notre Dame speaks for itself as superbly haunting story of man's cruelty and obsession.

However, I really want to emphasize how excellent this narration is in capturing the subtly and uniqueness of all the characters. If you are looking for this story as an audio book, this is undoubtedly the version to get.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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don't compare to Les Miserables, and it's great

I went into this story after reading Les Miserables thinking it was going to be as grand. well it's not. also don't go in thinking it's anything like the Disney version, you're going to have a bad time. I think the bad reviews on this are based on these two presumptions about the tale