Les Miserables

  • by Victor Hugo
  • Narrated by Frederick Davidson
  • 57 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Set in the Parisian underworld and plotted like a detective story, Les Miserables follows Jean Valjean, originally an honest peasant, who has been imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his sister's starving family. A hardened criminal upon his release, he eventually reforms, becoming a successful industrialist and town mayor. Despite this, he is haunted by an impulsive former crime and is pursued relentlessly by the police inspector Javert. 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

I love this book - one of the best of all time

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.
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- Sher from Provo

one happy insomniac

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.
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- Kathryn

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-22-2003
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.