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.
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