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Sintesi dell'editore

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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  • Sher from Provo
  • 30 06 2010

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.

21 su 21 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Allen
  • 06 10 2007

Absolutely Sublime

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.

14 su 14 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Kathryn
  • 27 01 2005

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.

44 su 46 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • James
  • 08 12 2009

Excellent -- worth the investment

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.

12 su 12 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Tim
  • 15 05 2008

Reputation is Well-Deserved

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.

10 su 10 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Jimmy
  • 25 08 2010

Now I know why it is a classic

I have wanted to listen to this book for a long time. Thanks to a gift membership from my son, I was able to do so -- and to join Audible at the same time. Frederick Davidson is not my favorite reader, but since I listen only to unabridged books, I had no choice. I have to admit that this is one of Davidson's best works. The range of his voices, and his articulation of French and Latin words makes this an excellent production. Some parts of this book seem like huge digressions. They are just Hugo's efforts to tell the history of France and give the reader a clear understanding of the setting of this story. By the end of the book, none of the digressions are remembered or regretted. At the end -- and what an end it is -- the reader has a good understanding of who the characters are and how they fit into the story. Davidson's reading of the last hour or so of Les Miserables should be among the hall-of-fame of audiobooks (along with Frank Mueller's reading of Tale of Two Cities) -- I listen while I commute and I just kept driving to the end! This book is full of Hugo's political and religious ideas (which at times get a little preachy and ponderous). Regardless of whether you agree with Hugo's views, you will have to admit that this is an incredible story -- a true Victorian classic.

9 su 9 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Scott
  • 07 01 2004

The Greatest Story Ever Told

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.

25 su 27 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Mama Love
  • 05 08 2008

Worth the time

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!

15 su 16 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Milarepa
  • 27 06 2010

Tour de Force Reading of a Masterpiece

This is a superb reading in every respect. Davidson brings to full life the myriad voices and social textures of the novel with aplomb and creativity. Engaging and entertaining throughout.

4 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • John
  • 06 05 2010

A VERY long haul, but glad I did.

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.)

4 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Nick
  • 20 02 2009

Epic journey through life.

This audiobook is very long - but not at all tedious!
The narratrive is fast paced, well read and a pleasure to listen to.
This epic page turner really did have me enthralled and rooting for the antihero of this classic tale.
Highly recommended!

14 su 15 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Alan
  • 07 06 2011

A slog but well worth it.

So I finally finished Les Miserables. It took me five months to listen to the whole thing, a 60-hour audio book. There were several points where I nearly gave up, and one where I actually announced on Facebook that I had given up. But I went back to it and I'm ever so glad that I did.

Let me start by saying that this is a fantastic book. There were times when I was slogging through some of the digressions that I wondered just how this could possibly have been considered a classic. But now I know.

At first, I sensed a similarity with Crime & Punishment, which just happens to have been published in the same decade as Les Miserables, as indeed was War & Peace, which I have also read. The part where Jean Valjean, as Monsieur Madeleine, is fighting with his conscience about going to rescue the man who has been arrested as Jean Valjean and then his journey there, fraught with difficulty.

It's been interesting to read some of the reviews on Goodreads after finishing the book. They are almost all five stars and there are a few instances where readers have read the abridged version and then gone back to read the unabridged and enjoyed it ever so much more. As I was listening to it, there were many occasions when I wished I had downloaded the abridged version instead. I mean come on, pages and pages of description about the Paris sewers? The whole Waterloo bit? I honestly struggled through these parts. I wonder if it would have been easier to read than to listen to.

Anyway, I listened to the last 8 hours or so in a couple of days, at first because I just wanted it finished and out of the way, but then because it was just so good that I didn't want to stop. I had guessed how the novel would end, but that didn't spoil the ending at all. It was so well written that I was left with a feeling of elation that has lasted through to the following day as I write this.

Suffice it to say that I am very glad that I persevered with this and got to the end. I actually would quite

12 su 13 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Karen Williams
  • 09 05 2014

Wait for a better narrator

Where does Les Miserables rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Magnificent as a work of literature - the language, detail and scope are breath-taking - but made a real test of listening endurance by the narration.

What did you like best about this story?

I constantly marvelled at Hugo's breadth and depth of knowledge. I know some listeners have complained about the "asides" lasting an hour, and I confess my own heart sank at times when I realised Hugo was going off at a tangent, but I couldn't help but be amazed at how much he KNOWS about everything and the way in which he covers his subjects from every angle. What an incredible mind. I was fascinated by the data on the French sewer system! I should also say that I am a professional translator and I was constantly stunned by the quality of this translation - so poetic and flowing and such a wealth of rich vocabulary.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Yes, it's a marathon and of course I respect him for his staying power, but the narrator at times drove me mad. He reads with a cynical or (as others have commented) bored tone, and has an irritating habit of letting his voice go UP at the end of a sentence so it sounds like a question ("Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo?"). I really recommend other listeners to wait until a better reading is released. It's only because the book is so good that I stuck with it. I will definitely avoid all other readings by this narrator.

Any additional comments?

I am giving this this 2 stars overall purely because of the narrator.

5 su 5 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Lesley
  • 23 12 2012

It's what your ears have been waiting for.....

At over 66 hours of listening, this is a lot of book for one credit. I was taking my 80 year old father to see the live show in London and wanted to get a handle on the story before we went - I was blown away by it - a huge story of an immense character, of love, loss, sacrifice, intrigue - you name it this book has it. I wasn't sure of the narrator at first, but soon grew to love his voice and it suited the story so well. I can't rate this book highly enough - but be prepared to have to put your life on hold while you immerse yourself in this truly astonishing novel.

4 su 4 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Ehab
  • 24 07 2010

What a very pleasant surprise...

I admit I was sceptical about Frederick Davidson's voice and style. In fact, I only bought this book because it was the only available unabridged version, and I am so glad I did. The book itself, this timeless masterpiece, hardly needs recommendation or introduction. The wonderful surprise, for me, was the delightful, intelligent, vivid and character-faithful narration of Davidson. Thanks Audible!

8 su 9 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Charlotte
  • 14 08 2013

Couldn't get on with the reader - a great shame

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I'm sure there are better readings and adaptations of this book for audio - the novel is huge, sprawling and endlessly detailed, and requires a storyteller of real talent to bring it to life. The performer reading this version veers between sounding bored or like a grotesque pastiche. Utterly ruins the narrative and made me lose any sympathy or empathy with the characters featured.

What did you like best about this story?

I've read this book and hoped that hearing a reading would add to my understanding. I don't think that it did. What I like about the story is the way that it immerses you completely in what France was like at the time - this reading, however, jolts you out of any such escapism with a lacklustre approach and bizarre delivery.

What didn’t you like about Frederick Davidson’s performance?

The story was just badly told. It sounded bored at points, at others like he was giving a very self serving performance that bordered on pastiche. It was distracting and made me cringe.

Could you see Les Miserables being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

Oh sweetie, there's already been quite a few adaptations of this story. It's been a musical for years.

Any additional comments?

Find another performer to do this story justice. Tempted to ask for my money back.

3 su 3 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • S. Matthewman
  • 27 06 2013

Great story but a delivery that makes me miserable

Would you try another book written by Victor Hugo or narrated by Frederick Davidson?

Victor Hugo remains one of the greatest masters of European literature. Unfortunately, I really struggled to get through Davidson's awful style of delivery.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The character of Javert and Valjean, and the way they circle each other over the decades, is as compelling as ever.

How could the performance have been better?

Davidson wheezes and rasps – every inhalation is picked up. He has a habit of finishing sentences as if he is only pausing, full stops replaced by commas,

When he continues at a different scene, it's quite, quite jarring and very annoying.

Was Les Miserables worth the listening time?

It's absolutely worth sticking with for the story. But you'll want to inflict every form of physical violence imaginable on the narrator.

7 su 8 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Sarah
  • 18 01 2013

Misleading audio sample

I didn't like the audio sample but it was the only unabridged version and lots of reviews said they didn't like the audio sample but enjoyed the book. I have to say I agree. It's a wonderful book and wonderfully read. I'm going to miss it when I finish it!

7 su 8 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Zoe
  • 23 01 2011


66 hours sounded like a long listen, but this was a book I just looked forward to listening to day after day, never getting bored. A stonking good story, beautifully narrated. I was transfixed and missed it terribly once I'd finished it.

3 su 3 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione

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  • Petra
  • 05 10 2014


The story is great, a true epic, but the book would have benefited from a decent editor. The narration was not for me - to be honest I can't stand FD's voice so have a listen before you buy.

1 su 1 utenti hanno ritenuto utile questa recensione