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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.   

This Penguin Classic is performed by an ensemble cast which includes the BAFTA award-winning actor Adeel Akhtar (Killing Eve, The Night Manager, Les Miserables), Adrian Scarborough (Gavin and Stacey, The King's Speech), Natalie Simpson (Outlander, Les Miserables), Emma Fielding (Unforgotten, Les Miserables) and John Owen-Jones, who was the youngest actor ever to play the part of Jean Valjean in the stage show of Les Miserables, and who has appeared as Jean Valjean on Broadway and in the West End. This definitive recording includes an introduction by Robert Tombs. 

Victor Hugo's tale of injustice, heroism and love follows the fortunes of Jean Valjean, an escaped convict determined to put his criminal past behind him. But his attempts to become a respected member of the community are constantly put under threat: by his own conscience and by the relentless investigations of the dogged policeman Javert. It is not simply for himself that Valjean must stay free, however, for he has sworn to protect the baby daughter of Fantine, driven to prostitution by poverty.

Public Domain (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Les Misérables

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  • Rain Wiegartner
  • 07-06-20

Great Book, Great Translation, 5 Great Narrators

Not for the faint of heart or those looking for a quick read, Hugo's classic is brought to light with wonderful, evocative prose in description and frequent cheeky casual dialogue from characters (at least in the latter sections of the book).

One important feature of this unabridged version is that it retains numerous digressions that provide historical context, social and spiritual truths, and the mental states of characters within the text. Overall, they add hugely to the work and show that the events are not mere things that happen, but show fundamental truths (in the author's mind) about society, God, virtue and happiness. They can at times drag, especially when they discuss poetically speak of history that a modern reader without a PhD in late 18th to early 19th century history won't understand or connect to, but they are ultimately essential to a reader wanting more than just the plot.

This recording consists of 5 narrators, 1 for each "part" of the book. Pronunciation, character voice and accent, and quality are remarkably consistent throughout. The first change over is jarring (which, unfortunately, contributes further to the famous difficulty of overcoming the Waterloo section) but the gimmick works remarkably well (and keeps these fine narrators' voices sturdy). The quality of the narration is shockingly great, with emotional speeches delivered appropriately and with great diction, cadence, and rhythm from all narrators.

If you want to tackle Les Miserables in audio form, this edition appears definitive.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Litwit
  • 05-06-20

Multiple narrators, and volume issues

I love this story and have listened to multiple versions and translations. This one is my least favorite. The multiple narrators are jarring, and the audio keeps jumping from low to high volume.

15 people found this helpful

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  • DM
  • 28-06-20

First time

I've not read this, seen the musical, or movie before. needless to say it was everything I've thought it to be. fantastic! lived the whole thing. especially how the history is woven through it from the eyes of characters that lived it. great from start to finish

6 people found this helpful

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  • Katherine Queen
  • 25-01-21

All 5 are very amazing

This version of Les Miserables is so elegant. The Christine Donougher translation is quite a wonderful translation and it is an even better narration. Adeel Akhtar does such a wonderful job doing part 1: Fantine, hearing him doing Cossette's mother and him doing the young Jean Valjean was so grand. Natalie Simpson was so elegant as she voiced the young Cossette and the slightly older Jean Valjean, including the Thenardiers. Adrian Scarborough was very good with the drama in part 3: Marius. He did a great job with Jean Valjean, Javert, the Thenardiers, including the young Eponine. Emma Fielding does a very beautiful job in Part 4 as she voices the teenager Cossette and how she tells this piece through her eyes, also Jean Valjean is voiced well, including Marius, the grandfather, Thenardier and Eponine. And, John Owen-Jones does a very good job with the senior versions of Jean Valjean and Thenardier, he does very good with Marius, Javert, and the older Cossette. Does a very good job with the drama and the closing of the story. Loved this so much.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Peeches
  • 25-10-20

Classic for a reason

The story of Les Miserable is one that resonates today just as much as when Victor Hugo wrote it. Beautiful and heartbreaking. Brokenness with a cry for redemption.

The length of the audio lends itself to the different narrators. I wish I could give more stars.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 11-12-21

Get it!

Just superb. Really long, meandering in parts, but still entertaining and even educational. Strongly recommended!

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  • Bradley E. Hays
  • 15-06-21

Great so far

It seems a bit strange writing a review for just the first part (of 6) but I guess it makes sense with there being several different narrators. This book has been on my list for a long time and I can see now why it gets so much acclaim. I was moved to tears several times already. Beautiful and profound. Yes, the writing style is a bit tedious sometimes, the level of detail and back-story. Reminds me of another favorite of mine, The Count of Monte Cristo, in the way it wanders along, with side stories and a plethora of seemingly unimportant characters. But it all adds to the mood making it feel real, and akin to life. The narrator did fine as well. I was not amazed as with some readers, in the different voices of characters, but the telling seems appropriate for the story itself, and that’s enough. He certainly doesn’t distract from the story and I appreciate that.

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  • a reader...
  • 28-01-22

Stunning Performance of a Masterpiece

Gorgeous translation of this masterpiece performed by team of great British actors, one for each section.
A well planned audiobook that enhances an incredible translation of one of the greatest novels ever written.
This work, along with only a few others, is life changing.

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  • M Kas
  • 08-01-22

I knew the abridged version, this is far better

I really enjoyed listening to this. It's been on my bucket list since high school French but I've never made the time to sit and read it. Listening to this version, unabridged, with different narrators kept the book following and make the endless detail and historical explanations not only palatable, but enjoyable. Definitely worth the time, and a lot of it is ok at 1.10 speed too. Invest in it if you enjoy the classics. I might even read it again.

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  • mike s.
  • 20-12-21

Top 5 Books Of All Time

One of the greatest novels of all time. Now that I’ve finally read it, I know this to be true. Very talented voice artist(s).

1 person found this helpful

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  • Joseph Manning
  • 22-08-20

Wonderful audiobook

Whilst long it was worth it - Hugo's story told with excellence. Well worth every minute.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Tim T.
  • 14-05-21

An amazingly short book!!

I have never so much wanted a book to go on .
This is worth every minute . As we meet and finally understand each character or as the last chapters on Hugo himself describes alter egos?
I am not a emotional person normally but at times both filled me with joy, then disturbed and at times even look down to avoid a tear at the closing of the chapters but smiles abound as you ride this rollercoaster of time and Monsieur Jean Valjeans journey.
Highly recommend
Long but what a joy !!!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 30-01-22

Great.!

Had always want to read this. But the shear size of the book is seriously off putting. (1600 pages) So Audible really helped. A story that could have been told in 400 pages goes off on multiple tangents. Religion, politics, class, war and even the lay out of the Parisian sewer system.! But is a great listen, painting a picture of revolutionary France 🇫🇷 Well worth it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 15-02-21

Magnificent

Adore this book. I've read Les Mis multiple times over the years and tried various audio versions but never liked any. Because Les Mis is so long to listen to you have to really like the audio in order to persist. I've never persisted with other audio recordings cos the voice(s) grated on me. I'm so thankful for this rendition! I loved each of the voices and enjoyed each in different ways. Les Mis was brought to life for me in a new way. Hugo's turn of phrase is so breathtaking and achingly beautiful. At the end of 60+ hours you find yourself wanting to go back and re-read all the passages that moved you the most.
If this is your first time reading/listening to Les Mis then just be aware that this is the unabridged version which includes all of Hugo's leeeeengthy digressions which are not essential to the plot and can serve to slow the tempo of the plot down (eg an extended rant about convents and cloisters and their role in society, examination of the battle of Waterloo from every conceivable angle, or a close up guided tour of the Paris sewer system). So if it's your first time with Les Mis I would recommend reading an abridged version first up where the story isn't continually put on hold for you in this way. Or you could just skip or fast forward through those bits in this version - just find out ahead of time which parts to skip. You can always go back and read/listen to them later. I find Hugo's digressions really interesting and his poetic way of writing about the least interesting topic eg poop kind of captures you, but it can be frustrating when he drops a completely unrelated digression in at a crucial or tense part of the story so don't let that stop you from perservering with Les Mis - just skip. Les Mis is a book of immense beauty, depth and pathos. A close up look at the human soul and the power of love. Can't recommend highly enough!

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  • Rowan silva
  • 10-01-21

Exceptional story but beware the digressions

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Les Mis but readers should be ready for regular, lengthy digressions from the central story. Whilst aspects of these digressions can be fascinating, they are often too long and it may be sensible to simply skip over those that don’t appeal. You will fully understand these comments when you listen to it. There is a good explanation of why Hugo constructed the book this way in the ‘introduction’ at the end which is well worth listening to. I don’t mean to be too negative- it is an excellent production and will bring tears at certain key moments.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-10-20

One of the best

There some pretty long historical interludes that dont have much bearing on the story that I recommend listening to at double speed for a quick overview but otherwise I think this is one of the greatest tales ever told, stunning, witty, poignant