Les Mis¨¦rables (Signet Classics)
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In this story of the trials of the peasant Jean Valjean--a man unjustly imprisoned, baffled by destiny, and hounded by his nemesis, the magnificently realized, ambiguously malevolent police detective Javert--Hugo achieves the sort of rare imaginative resonance that allows a work of art to transcend its genre.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Romantic Masterpiece on Two Levels
    Victor Hugo was one of Ayn Rand's favorite writers because the foundation of his work is the purposeful expression of ideals. The plot might be implausable, filled with incredible coincidences, and the characters a bit cartoonish, but this is Hugo's way of distilling to the essence a conflict of good (Valjean), evil (Thernadier) and thoughtless conformity (Javert). Hugo's anti-royalist, pro-revolutionary political ideals are masterfully woven in as well.

    The book is also very romantic in the superficial, sensual way, an evocative portrayal of a time and place: France -- especially Paris, in the first half of the nineteenth century. I often found myself balancing a map of Paris in one hand and this thick volume in the other, sleuthing with only partial success for particular streets and landmarks more than 150 years after the fact. The famous description of the Paris sewer system is fascinating but a much smaller part of the story than I expected. The vivid narrative of the Battle of Waterloo is one of many lengthy digressions responsible for the abridgement. To cut corners like this is a shame, symbolic of the chasm between Hugo's time and ours. Works like this were meant to unfold slowly and be savored. More discipline is required today, but reader who employs it will be rewarded with the most complete sense of the place and purpose of this novel in its time. ...more info
  • Hugo a la High School Francaise.
    As the title suggests, I was introducted to Victor Hugo in my Honors french class in high school. Of course being in high school I never really took the assignment with any seriousness(not to mention it had to be read in french for which I was only partially listening) and forgot completely about him. Then a year later and in college-- I was reintroduced to the wonderful workings of this classy frenchman.
    Set in 19th century france, this story follows several characters who ultimately cross over and influence eachothers lives without ever knowing it. Our "hero" Jean Valjean is an escaped convict, who decides to restart his life fresh and with a helping hand to every. The story is a somewhat domino effect, where one action of a character influences another and so on and so on. Upon finishing the book, I must have sat back for what felt like an hour and just reflected. The characters are so well rounded and detailed it makes it feel almost like a personal journey. I laughed hard, and cried at times. Very Recommended....more info

  • Complete Version of my favorite book
    I will confess that Les Miserables is my favorite book of all time. And this unabridged English translation is excellent. Les Miserables is Victor Hugo fully developed: his political, moral, and story telling faculties are at their zenith.

    Please read this novel. It's a good one.

    The hero in this story is a convict. The evildoer is society. A society that is quick to condemn, a convict who forgives and shows compassion. It is a story of redemption, of revolution, of love. This is a book that shows the hypocrisy of a society with no compassion, no heart.

    Our hero, Jean Valjean is given many moral choices, some he fails, most he passes. He steals from the Bishop who forgives him. Valjean becomes a successful businessman, but faces an impossible moral dilemma. Read the book to find out how that comes out. Javert, the indomitable policeman is constantly on Jean Valjean's tail. Will he be caught? Continually Jean Valjean faces critical moral choices? What would you do if you were Jean Valjean?

    Victor Hugo tells the story like, well like Victor Hugo. From the detailed description of the Battle of Waterloo, to Hugo's story of the Paris barricade, to the emotional roller coaster tale of Jean Valjean, the story is intense. And in a way a bit frightening. There are violent scenes, sappy scenes of agape love, and funny scenes. Not horse laugh funny, but amusing funny. There are bad guys like Thenardier and upright but short sighted guys like Javert. I have thought about Javert. Maybe you will to. Cosette is the lost child that Jean Valjean . . . well I don't want to ruin the story.

    Victor Hugo has put some thought into what makes people tick. So you believe these characters are really facing these very human situations. Hugo's descriptions are meticulous and bring on the fictive dream, which is what fiction is all about. And while Hugo is very intense and wordy there is a lot of action.

    There is no question that my perspective was challenged by this book. And it continues to challenge when one considers America's prison's. When children are still raised in horrible circumstances like Cosette.

    If you do not like to be challenged, if you do not like uncomfortable thoughts, this book is not for you.

    On the other hand if you are open to moral challenge, can stomach critiques of the status quo and critiques of authority this may be your book. You may cry, you might cheer, but you will surely think.

    I have read this book several times. Please read the unabridged version, the abridged versions miss too much of the driving plot. Also there are versions that appear to be unabridged but are in fact heavily edited by the translator. Stay away from those. This Signet Classic version is complete and unabridged. It's a keeper.

    ...more info
  • One Of The Greatest Books Ever Written-The COMPLETE Novel.
    Victor Hugo's classic "Les Miserables" is finally available in its original form as it appeared in 1862. The story is so familiar that I'll only give you a brief summary: Jean Valjean, an ex-convict tries to redeem himself while being hunted by the relentless bloodhound of a lawman, Inspector Javert. As he struggles to free himself from his dark past, Hugo throws us head on into the violent underworld of Paris, seething with the fire of imminent revolution. This novel is very good. It's intense, dramatic and romantic all in one. The story is vast in scope, taking us through the nefarious underworld that is Paris. The novel has a little more than 1,000 pages, which would probably make anyone who detests reading (as I did until I was five) throw the book down and look for something else to read. I have the abridged edition, so I'll review it here as well. That version keeps over 95% of the story intact, only cutting out the very long sections (the history of a Catholic monastery, the author's "eyewitness" account of the battle of Waterloo, which marked the end of Napoleon Bonaparte's reign as Emperor of France, the historical significance of the uprising of 1832, a linguistic examination of the secret languages of thieves and the darkest part of the sewers in which Jean Valjean-I won't spoil it; read it for yourself). Anyway, that edition cut out only those sections (there's a "Note On The Abridgement" in the book before the start of the novel, so correct me if I'm wrong), which is very good, for those who despise reading long books and just like the main idea of the story (Sir Laurence Olivier's classic 1948 film version of William Shakespeare's "Hamlet" is a perfect example of movies adapted from plays that have been shortened to a considerable length of 2/1/2 hours or so, that is, if you're searching for a short version of a play or book; that would be the one I would absolutely recommend). Some entire chapters and opening sections of chapters (which have brief summaries) have been cut, so as to make the novel more readable without having to read all of Victor Hugo's subplots and side remarks (the majority of which are intact). The list of books that have been cut are enclosed in brackets in pages 5-6. Aside from the original theatrical trailer (the preface), the additional material was supplied by Laurence Porter (the translator and editor) and Fine Creative Media, Inc. Read the unabridged translation first, then read the abridged one and decide which you like best. For me, both were very good, but I prefer the edition which has been slimmed down a little bit. Rated PG-13 for intense thematic elements, brief scenes of domestic conflict/abuse and some war violence. ...more info
  • Le Commentaire Sociologique
    An altogether wonderful social commentary set in 19th century revolutionary France; Les Mis¨¦rables is a story with superb character development and plot, colorful historical background and setting, and meaningful spiritual and philosophical insights. While Hugo often digresses from the plot line it only heightens the suspense and always acts as an informative digression. Therefore, I would discourage anyone from reading an abridged version of this novel. To do so would take away from the overall point of the book which was not just to tell a good fictional story (though Hugo achieved that too), but to capture the essence of 19th century revolutionary France while simultaneously addressing contemporary social issues and deeper philosophical questions. Hugo's genius is that he embodied an era in literary form and embellished it with romanticized overtones in order to produce a timeless masterpiece; he sought not only to entertain the senses but to enlighten the mind. Les Mis¨¦rables brought me to tears, provoked my understanding, and deepened my love for humanity....more info
  • greatest novel ever
    this is a long novel, but it is very rewarding to finish the whole book. some parts of the book may be boring, but for the parts about the main character, i can hardly put down the book. i don't know about the translation since i don't know French, but the English is crystal clear. i love this book....more info
  • You must read this book.
    Les Miserables is the greatest book I have ever read. I have never seen a theatrical adaptation, and I never will because I hate musical theater with a passion; but the book is far better than any I've ever come across. If you go through life without reading this book, you're lesser for it! And don't go the abridged route; abridiging a book is evil in my eyes; read the unabridged version, you will be better for the experience....more info
  • Great
    Even though I havent finished the book yet, I must say Im pretty satisfied with what Ive read so far. One of this novel's charm is the fact that this is not just pure fiction but an interesting story with a touch of history. The plot is very exciting as much as to keep you on the edge of your seat. When you read about the character its like you get involved with them and you feel what they feel. Victor Hugo makes the character appeal to the reader.
    Sometimes reading becomes a little tedious because of the extensive description and detailing but when I kept reading on my interest was soon regained. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading and I hope to finish it soon even though Im missing about 800 pages to go. ...more info
  • Amazing Read - More than a book
    There is an excellent reason why Les Miserables has been rated as one of the best books to be ever written and the writer deserves every bit of credit he has received.

    Les Miserables is more than a read; it's a life experience. It gives the reader the pleasure of digging deep into what life can and does offer to people living in different conditions, though it tends to focus on those who face abject poverty. There are so many complicated thoughts expressed in the book, it'll be difficult for you to perceive the material for a train of philosophical thoughts. Philosophy has debate written all over it, meaning that 'you're never wrong as long as you argue correctly'; 'there are two sides to every coin'. But, after reading this book, you'll be surged with ideas that will be incontestable to the very last page.

    Victor Hugo has an intimate understanding of human nature and his writing reflects that in the best way possible. You'll be amazed as to why you kept yourself from reading this book before. A note to those who like their read to be precise :: you know the saying "patience is virtue"...this is where it'll be worth working on that phrase. I am not sure how the abridged format of this book fares, but one thing is for sure and it's that the unabridged version will definitely not disappoint you. At the end of the read, I found myself comprehending this "If people like Jean Valjean exist, I hope I will be fortunate enough to realize when I meet such a person"....I believe that good thoughts/ideas usually are inspired by events from the past, so I'm sure there is some basis to where this story comes from. I have thoroughly enjoyed the authors style of writing and will highly recommend this book to a novice as well as a regular reader. Every great book leaves it's reader with a joy of learning something valuable and Les Miserables hits the mark splendidly. So, get hold of your copy soon and experience the great feeling which people all over the world share on this book. Enjoy!...more info
  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
    When it was first published in 1862, a personal friend wrote to Hugo (who was in exile at the time) and told him of the widespread chaos "Les Miserables" had caused. He described the massively long waiting lines at local bookstores, outward protests and book-burnings by the Catholic church who so hated Hugo's blunt critique of their faith, and the confusion of the critics who were delightfully stumped by this epic novel of France.
    Outwardly, it is the story of the humble Jean Valjean- a thief and ex-convict-turned saint and millionaire. Valjean's struggles are our own, his emotions a familiar state for many of us.
    Inwardly, it is a social history and critique of the French government and Roman Catholic church, thus the controversy surrounding its explosive release. Hugo loathed life in France as it was, and dreamed for a brighter future for his people.
    It is quite lengthy; I suggest reading it over a long-term period. It's abundant chapters and other various story divisions make it easier to do so.



    ...more info
  • Rediculous size paperback
    If I had known this book would have so many pages I would not have ordered. Being as thick as it is makes it very difficult to hold, and the binding edge will be broken before halfway through reading. A size that would cut the page count in half would be helpful, especially to people with small or arthritic hands. ...more info
  • Good Book with Some Detriments
    Let me just say this first of all: I am not going to spare Les Miserables in a critique because it is a famous novel and it is an extremely famous play. I have to say that this is one crazy novel. It's very indescribable. Sometimes you just want to put it down and sometimes you just can't put it down.

    I have to say that this is a milestone if you read it. It is very boring in some parts because of the rambling of Victor Hugo. Its very unlikely that you will have the same interests as Mr. Hugo (sewer systems in Paris and how Waterloo turned out). So somewhere in this novel you will be extremely and I mean EXTREMELY bored out of your mind, but the reading must go on.

    But there are moments in the story when it is entirely readible and is actually exciting (!). You have to learn to feast on these moments like it's your last piece of chocolate. At these times, the story is very enjoyable and you will be in a good mood wiht all the drama, action, and emotions.

    Victor Hugo I have to say was an excellent writer in his time. His stories are timeless due to the fact of their universal emotional appeal. He bases this book on many emotions of different characters, which has lead Les Mis to its survival for a few centuries. Suspense and secrets are great in this novel and you will definitely have fun guessing characters in disguise (I've gotten most of them!). The characters are intertwined in very many ways and Victor Hugo is great at adding little by little information into the story. There are so many characters, but he adds them one at a time and certain chapters and mini "books" only have a few main characters in them, so its not that confusing.

    So in conclusion, it's close to miraculous if you finish this book, but its also its excitement moves it along a little bit. There is extreme drama, sadness, teary eyed happiness, anger, confusion, the whole emotion in this book. And even if you haven't watched the musical (you're not alone), this is a great book and is indescribable. Victor Hugo is absolutely a fantastic writer, but its inevitable that the book would become a little obselete within so many years. ...more info
  • The dichotomy of law and grace
    Great fiction carries with it more than the story it tells. It contains also timeless and universal themes that continue to speak to us long after we finish the last page. Les Miserable is one of those great fiction works that will give us pause to consider where law and grace meet and diverge. At the same time it is a beautiful tale of love and devotion to truth. Do not miss this gem of literature. The musical is wonderful, the book is even better....more info
  • Make Sure it's Unabridged!
    I am a relatively new Les Miserables fan. I saw the play in 2002 after reading a good third of the unabridged novel. For a while, I ignored my copy of Les Mis. I moved on to other obsessions, including Lord of the Rings and The Great Gatsby.

    There was something compelling about Les Mis, however, that kept calling me back. A spark was relit when I picked up my old copy of Hugo's famous novel. As soon as I began to read, I felt the old reactions again-- an odd combination of euphoria and impatience. Because I am a student of psychology, I was very interested in the characters' motivations, the philosophy of the era, and the various moral questions raised by Hugo. However, Les Mis was somewhat burdensome to read for a poor 16-year-old like myself (mind you, this was 3 years ago!). The intricate details and rambling paragraphs did not appeal to my rather abstract and subjective way of thinking. Sadly, I put the book away after finishing 1200 pages.

    Last week, I picked up Les Mis once more. There is something truly triumphant and universal about this book, no doubt, but-- it takes some effort to read. The mythological allusions, technical details, and strings of argot dialogue can be difficult to navigate.

    If you have the patience and the desire to read this truly excellent novel, I highly recommend it. It is a fascinating look into the past-- and at ourselves. Hugo has a solid understanding of human nature, and Les Miserables is populated with tragic figures, heroes, and downright unsavory characters. His themes include love, sacrifice, and forgiveness. There is no ultimate happy ending, sadly, but Hugo is not cynical. He is a realist, but some optimism finds its way between the revolutions and the fierce moral battles. Good is venerated and evil is punished. Hugo believes that mankind can be truly good (Valjean, Enjolras, Cosette, Fantine), truly bad (Thenardiers), or somewhere in between (Javert, Eponine, Grantaire). However, not everyone is automatically classified as a villain or a hero. There are many compelling characters that are merely realistic, not entirely moral or amoral. These characters are motivated by personal beliefs, greed, and love. A multitude of different personalities and motivations make Hugo's France even more interesting to read about.

    This book is complex and epic. It is written in an intricate, classical style, but it is not one to be missed.

    5/5...more info
  • Excellent but long
    The writing is fantastic, and long. I would not, in spite of its length, recommend any abridged version. Who would read an abridged version of War and Peace or of Anna Karennina?

    The first many chapters (yes, chapters!) describe the bishop - and were a delightful experience. There are sections that drag on - such as the battlefield at Waterloo, and so forth - and sections that do not seem to be relevant to the story, but are relevant to context (sort of). For example, the author goes on at some length about the convent, its history, and in general expresses his opinions at length about convents and monastaries.

    His love of France and of Paris especially are completely visible and plain to see.

    This book is worth getting, and reading through. But imagine my surprise when, stacked side by side with War and Peace (often used as the definitive example of a looooooong English novel), I found Les Miserables to be the same size and length as War and Peace.

    No matter. Read it anyway....more info
  • Best of the Best in Classics
    Les Miserables is France immortalized and Victor Hugo is one of the greatest things to ever happen to Paris. This edition is the complete edition in every sense and I highly recommend to people to buy this edition if you really want the whole feel of the story. 19th century France comes to life in the words of a man who loved it dearly. Classic French Literature. Victor Hugo romances France just like he does in all his works. If you haven't read Les Miserables yet; read it; and buy a copy of this edition of it....more info
  • Library got tired of me constantly checking this gem out!
    Our local Library got tired of me checking this book out and had to put a "limit" to how many times one could check a book out so I went out and bought a copy for myself!
    If you have ever been in a bad life situation *and* have ever been in love then this is the book for you!
    The characters seem almost real and I cried during certain parts. My favorite part is the heart beneath the stone poetry that Marius writes to Cosette in a letter.

    Beautiful! Just beautiful!

    Vive' Le's Miserables!...more info
  • Brenda of Tennessee
    The best book I've ever read in my entire life. Yes, I've read Tolstoy, James Joyce, etc. But this book holds a special place in my heart. It has it all. Love, Love lost, war, poverty, riches, beauty, orphaned child, and of course, .... a hero.

    bd...more info
  • The Most Moving Novel That I Have Ever Read!
    I will never forget the first time that I read this incredible book. It was 5 in the morning, and I needed to be in bed. Instead, I was sobbing, holding Les Miserables to my chest. I am a great lover of classic literature. Dickens, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky. But no novel has EVER reduced me to such a sobbing mess as Les Mis. I remember refusing to read another book for months. I couldn't. I needed to savor Les Mis.

    Trust me...read it!...more info
  • Tips for reading Les Miserable and savoring it..............
    Having not read many literature books in my lifetime, undertaking to read one of the finest piece of work ever written is a challenge.

    If you are like me and have read the reviews on Amazon before tackling this gigantic novel then I do not need to go on about how great this book is and what it is all about.

    Also, if like me, you are a beginner in the world of fine literature, the following are a few tips I would give to those who haven't read Les Miserables. Here goes:

    1. Get the book and do not be intimidated by its size. It is huge but the chapters are not very long.

    2. Make sure to buy the Signet Classic version translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee (ISBN 0-451-5256-4). One reviewer said that this was the best version available and I totally agree with that. This is the new version based on the 19th Century Charles E. Wilbour translation. I had another version of this book and this one is by far the only completely unabridged paperback and also more reader-friendly.

    3. Have a dictionary handy as there are many words that need translation.

    4. Knowing the French language/history is a bonus but not required.

    5. Have patience - this book will require time to read and when I say read, I mean savor each word. Do not read hastily or skip over parts that you think are not important. Yes, Mr. Hugo is very meticulous and detail-oriented in his description of characters, things and places but by reading and in some cases (like me), re-reading you will realize that they were written because they are essential to the plot of this book. Also make sure that when you are reading the book, there are no distractions, i.e., tv, radio...as this book requires total concentration in order to fully appreciate it.

    6. Do not be tempted to see the movie or show instead of reading the book. Read the book first and then go see the show or watch the movie if you want to. Be prepared to be disappointed with movie/musical as they cannot convey the, emotion, wisdom, love, etc... contained in the written version. Seeing the movie/musical instead or reading the book is like watching a Yankees game on TV instead of being at the stadium in NYC cheering along with the rest of the fans. Well you get my drift....

    7. Be prepared to be changed by this book. No, it is not the Bible but it does deal with all aspect of human emotions and by reading it, you will want to be a better person. I know I do!!!

    With that being said, enjoy the book as it is a reading experience that you will not soon forget....more info
  • Give me 100 pages and your life will change
    Here's my story about how I came to love this book.

    If you're an average schmuck, with a job (not in academia), a life, and some curiosity, this review is for you.

    If you're a literary blueblood, this review isnt for you. If your sworn enemy in life used to be your closest friend until they disagreed with you about whether Beowulf was a real person, be offended by my apathy and go away. If you had to turn off the TV newscasts on 9/11 because they were getting in the way of your arguments of whether sonnets devalue prose, just move on down to the next review.

    I'm not a Literature buff. I tolerated English in high school and college because I had to, skipping what I could, skimming what I could get away with, and bluffing where needed. The thought picking up a stack of books and being ditcated a marathon schedule to read them by still makes me bristle with quiet rebellion.

    After school I ended up with a job with lots of down time. I decided to make use of this time going back and leisurely reading some of the 'classics' that I probably should have read before. Twain, Tolstoy, Dickens, Stowe and others pulled from the titles of Cliff's Notes (Hey, if Cliff says they're important....) Funny, but classics are much more palatable when they are read on a leisurely timeframe. Some I liked, some I couldn't care less about, but Les Miserables was, literally, a life-changing text.

    I fell into Les Mis completely by accident. On day I forgot to pack whatever book I was working on that day and dug around looking for something other than Harlequins and Clancys. I picked up Hugo's Hunchback more by default than choice, liked the book, and in the closing commentary a writer mentioned that Hunchback was merely a prelude to his greatest work, Les Mis.

    But starting Les Mis was a trial. French words scattered in the text were stumbling blocks. Hugo's text is a jealous mistress- it demands your full attention while reading. Les Mis is not in the genre of modern novels...grab the reader's attention in the first pages or lose them forever. I got bored reading about a bishop's daily routine. It takes 100 pages for the story to kick in. I stopped reading it twice, only to pick it back up a few months later and start all over.

    But, as anyone who was read the novel can tell you, those first chapters are essential to the power of the story that follows.

    I pushed my way through, got caught up in the current of the story once it began, and floated out the other side a better human being because of it.

    Les Mis is a fantastic, detailed journey through human psychology. With 1400 pages, subplots, a cyclone of characters over decades of history, it can be difficult to distill WHAT the book is about into one word, but here's my try: Redemption.

    Les Mis can be trying at times. Hugo is very detailed. He takes the reader though various side trips along the way. More than once he spends 100 pages setting up two pages of storyline. But his detail produces a work that is untouched in its ability to reveal the characters.

    We see the difficulty in Valjean weighing wealth and praise from the multitudes against "one voice cursing in the darkness."

    We see a character in Fantine pulled from innocence with a slow cruelty found nowhere else in lit: being turned for more misery (in surprising ways)like a pig on a split...with a reader helpless to intervene.

    I see the police detective Javert as an embodiment of 'the system,'not necessarily as evil as one reviewer suggsets. Hugo's penchant for overly-through descriptions also allow us to see a human side that makes him much more complex. We see Javert recite all the reasons he is right....and Hugo agrees with Javert... but we see that sometimes there is a larger truth than being 'right.'

    Writing this a decade later I still see in my mind one of the most powerful images in the story... a middle-aged man and a small girl, both written off by the society around them, each with little in common with the other, both clinging to each other because the other is all they have in the world.

    For those who are used to watching all the loose ends coming together at the end of every hour of television, Les Mis will be a rude shift. It ends in a way that can be described as happy in its own sense though everyone doesnt ride off into the sunset or end with a joke and everyone laughing.

    Frankly, I think it is impossible to appreciate the nuance of the musical without reading the unabridged text.

    I finished reading Les Mis for the first time over 10 years ago. I still remember reading the last page, closing the book, and spending hours reflecting on the immensity of what I had experienced.

    Girlfriend read it on my recommendation with similar effect.

    Friend decided to stick it in his reading lists on my suggestion. When he started, he came to me frustrated with the slow start. "Is all this about the Bishop necessary to the story?" I said yes and he kept reading. A decade and hundreds of classic novels later still names Les Mis as his favorite book.

    Shortly after reading it the first time, he recommended the book to yet another colleague looking for something to read to pass the time. As he handed it over, he issued a challenge: "Give me 100 pages, and your life will change."

    He did, it did, and I now offer my friend's challenge to you!

    ...more info
  • A great literary classic
    How do you review something as astounding and memorable as this world renown classic. It has been the subject of movies, plays and a wonderful musical. In fact it was the 10th anniversity musical, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall, that brought me back to this timeless work by Victor Hugo. This complete and unabridged Signet classic follows the life of the thief Jean Vajean as he seeks redemption. Interwoven with the story of the prostitute Fantine, her daughter Cossett, The dastardly Thednardies' innocent Marius, the severe inspector Javert and placed against the upheaval of France culumnating in the awful scene at the barricades, this voyage through the trials and tribulations of of Valjean is both uplifting and sobering. I challenge anyone to work their way through this magnificent masterpiece without being humbled at the depth of Hugo's understanding of the human condition. I stand in awe of his knowledge of classical literature, his poetic prose and the deep love of his country. So, yeah, I really liked it alot! ...more info
  • One of the best books ever written
    This is a powerful and moving story. It has been called the greatest story ever written that does not appear in holy scripture. Even if you've seen the movies and the musical, you should read the unabridged version of this book. It contains so much more depth and power than the muscial does. Hugo's masterpiece shows Valjean's struggle to continue to do right and how Valjean is given opportunity after opportunity to change back into the wretched man that he was and how Valjean stays true to what the Bishop of Digne wanted him to do. Don't be afraid of the length of this book. It does take a long time to read, and you may have to take breaks, but this is one of the few books I've ever read that is worth reading again. Reading Hugo's "Les Miserables" will enrich your life and make it better simply by reading it. ...more info
  • Le Mis is not Miserable!
    I recommend this book to everyone. My review is simple, this is a story of redemption. Jean Valjean is everyone. This is one of the classics that you can read and read again. ...more info
  • one of the best books of all time1
    Though there are many vantage points and themes of this book, the most important is that of a man released from prison setting out to prove that someone who has gone down the wrong path can ultimately change and reverse his wrong-doings. When I was 15, I figured that because it was such a large book, that I would be occupied for quite a while and I wasn't mistaken. Even at 15, I was perfectly aware of what a great book this was. And much later, after watching a theater production, I was inspired to read it again. Read this book, you won't regret it....more info
  • Short review for a huge book
    I bought this book after seeing the movie "Les Miserables" with Liam Neeson. I just knew there had to be "more to the story."

    I loved this book!! There are abridged versions, but I am thankful that I read the UNabridged version, and I found this translation wonderful.

    If you enjoy the sound of a well turned phrase, you will love the way Hugo writes. Although this book was 1463 pages in length, I enjoyed every page.

    Reading this has given me a new appreciation for the history of the period and made me think about the prison system of that time.

    Les Miserables is now upon my shelf of "Favorite Novels" and I plan to read it again.

    Oh....and yes....the movie pales in comparison to "the rest of the story"! Don't let the length of this book stop you. Pick it up and begin! I hope you love it as much as I did. Soak your mind in each well turned phrase: "At times she saw him,"(Monsieur Thenardier)"as a lighted candle; at others, she felt him like a claw." "A torn conscience leads to an unraveled life." (Regarding Monsieur Thenardier)

    Try it, you'll love it!!...more info
  • Most moving novel I have ever read
    I write this review wiping tears from my eyes, having just spent the better part of an hour sobbing quietly at my desk after finishing Les Miserables. The characters are so well written that you will find yourself making connections with your own life on every page. Even if you have not personally experienced some, or even many of the situations, emotions and circumstances of the characters found here, this book will show you what is possible in this life and will forever expand your conscience. I don't think I'm in the proper mind-set to write a coherent, objective review right now. I'm usually a sardonic cynic who mocks the sort of sentimentality found here, but this book has changed my life. It will change yours too, so please read it before you die! ...more info
  • Perhaps the greatest of all classical journey novels.
    Take a character, study it to the most minute details, build an entire plot around him and send him on a journey to redefine himself. A very popular theme for 19th century french novels, and the theme for Hugo's masterpiece.

    Hugo's takes Valjean to a journey toward his ultimate redemption through an amazing panorama of early 19th century frace. You can feel Valjean's character evolves and develop as the plot advance. Every character is importent, every subplot is critical. Hugo's book have no flat supporting actors. The characters are deeply detailed, and the reader is brought to tears as Eponine dies in the hands of Marius not because of cheap sentimental tricks, but because he came to know her character so well.

    The historical research is top-notch, the chapter detailing the Waterloo battle (dropped in most abridged versions) brings back to life Napoleon's cavaliers as they charged across the plains. Hugo gives the reader a full report on the Paris sewege system, hence he sends his characters down there. Another chapter dropped in many abridged version is the opennig one, do yourself a favor and avoid skipping it. You will understand the importance of that chapter toward the last pages.

    This novel is a must have in every library, the translation is fluent and easily read, and every single page is geting you closer to the amazing catharsis at the end. And even though the popular musical (which I had the chance to watch live on stage) is great, it is but a pale shadow of the original. ...more info
  • Classic
    One of the best stories I have ever read. I cannot offer a higher recommendation. I read the full version first followed by the abridged version. The full version was very long and included quite a few sections involving french history that I did not understand. While the full version was a bit more difficult to get through, the reward was well worth the effort. I can't say enough good things about this book. If you like a good story, with character, integrity, and soul that leaves you wanting to be a better person in the end, you can't get much better. ...more info