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Showing 1-10 of 2,284 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 2,365 reviews
on April 16, 2012
I know it's scary. It's probably one of the longest and hardest to read books you've ever picked up (or at least it was for me). Hugo goes into painstaking detail with his history, his scenery, and his character development. Reading on can be frustrating sometimes because you just can't see where the author is going. Minute descriptions of people, places, and political views abound. But you come to trust in Hugo...because you realize that no lengthy discussion is wasted with him. It has a purpose and a place and provides a richness to his story that I have never seen in any other work.

The scope and depth of the story is UNBELIEVABLE. The characters are so completely flesh and bone that you know them. You know who they are and exactly how they will react in a situation before it ever happens. The scenes are so masterfully laid out that you can envision every detail in your mind. And oh, believe me when I say the storytelling is breathtaking. Les Miserables is about poverty and the human condition, set against the backdrop of decades of French history. But it is so much more. It's a story of the redemption of man, despite everything the world can throw at him. It is a story of fear and sadness, but most of all, hope. The hope that we can do better. The hope that religion will not lead us down a path of self-righteousness, but to true righteousness, which to quote the book of Isaiah is "to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke". There is so much to be learned about forgiveness, love, happiness, and life from this story.

Les Miserables is not just a book. It might be the best book ever written. It is a LIFE CHANGER. Don't be afraid of it. Experience it for yourself.
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on January 18, 2013
THIS IS THE HAPGOOD TRANSLATION and the rating is for the translation, not the novel. Amazon doesn't seem to like to list the translators but it can make a huge difference. I just got a Kindle, and having read Hunchback several years ago and having the Signet Classics Les Mis waiting on my shelf for a while, I decided this would be a good first hurdle for the Kindle. The hardcopy is so huge! Along the way I wondered why I seemed to be reading so slowly and having to re-read sections -- was I not adapting to the Kindle? -- and then I finally came across a phrase in this translation that really didn't make any sense at all. Maybe a word-for-word translation rather than an interpretation? - "...the great art: to make a little render to success the sound of a catastrophe..." I had another free download of the book, and found exactly the same translation. In the Signet Classics Fahenstock/MacAfee translation, however, it was in perfectly good English: "...the great art, to give a success something of the sound of a catastrophe..." Here's what's annoying: if I pull up the Signet Classics version on Amazon, it has link to buy it in Kindle edition, but the LINK'S TO THIS COMPLETELY INFERIOR TRANSLATION! Amazon doesn't offer a Kindle version of the Signet Classics translation so I'm looking elsewhere and using conversion software if I need to, then picking up where I left off in the Hapgood translation. Free is fine for public domain English-language books (Dickens, Twain) but I've learned my lesson with translations and will pay for premium.
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on January 14, 2012
To clarify a misconception -- in the "product details," the ISBN listed (1449565530) is in error, as is the corresponding number (218) of print pages. That ISBN corresponds to "Volume II, Cosette." A publisher broke the rather long book into volumes so that they could sell five books instead of just the one megabook, and volume II is 218 pages. The kindle book is the complete, unabridged edition with all five volumes. Like all scanned books, it has scattered scanning errors that you can, in general, read through without compromising the experience.
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on February 14, 2014
Victor Hugo’s crowning acheivement is simply amazing. Widely considered one of the best novels of the 19th century, the monumentally-epic LES MISERABLES chronicles the soul-changing journey of Jean Valjean. Through the telling of Valjean’s story, Hugo condemns predujice, unfairness, and wretchedness, while at the same time celebrating the potential and the acheivement of man. This emotionally-powerful story of Valjean, Javert, Fantine, and Cosette has the power to change your life. Hugo’s gift to humanity will always serve to remind us to keep our lives in perspective and to seek empathy for our fellow man.

Where the story of Jean Valjean really shines is in its remarkable portrayal of human emotion and conflict. Through the triumphs and tribulations of Valjean (and the other powerfully-written characters), Hugo examines interpersonal relationships as well as self-absorbed pondering. Stubborn rigidity, misunderstanding, and lack of empathy are the norms for the characters in LES MISERABLES, all leading to unnecessary pain and turmoil. The lack of communication between characters that results in so much heart ache is frustrating, but serves as a powerful lesson for real-world relationships. The examination of the human psyche found in this book encompasses broad ranges of who we are. From the dignity of the clear-headed and honest, to the recklessness of youth and the innocence of children, LES MISERABLES speaks to the reader about our complicated, yet simple, lives.

The most common and valid criticism of LES MISERABLES focuses on the lengthly tangents dispersed throughout the story. Hugo takes full advantage of having the reader’s attention by expounding on all manner of topics, from politics to architectural design. He utilizes these side tracks for spacing between the central plot sections. Hugo was obviously passionate about many diverse issues, but most of these are of very little interest to the modern reader. Being that this is already one of the longest novels ever written (longer than War and Peace by a substantial margin), taking approximately a quarter of the book for inane-seeming diversions has frustrated many readers. This is one case where I can certainly understand skipping over certain less-interesting parts. Luckily, the format of LES MISERABLES makes this easy. The novel has 5 Volumes, each divided into around 10 Parts. Each of the lengthly tangents makes up one of these Parts. If I were to read this again, I think I would be inclined to skip at least some of the less-relevant Parts.

Before writing this review, I watched the <recent movie adaptation> of the Les Miserables musical with Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, and Anne Hathaway. The directors, writers, musicians, and actors all did a magnificient job. They were able to effectively capture the emotion and drama of the story in a very limited space. I wouldn’t recommend the movie for those not familiar with the story (as you’d mostly be lost, or at least not appreciate the true emotional gravity of the story), but if you’ve read the book, the musical movie is a real treat.

LES MISERABLES is an epic that everyone should experience at some point. Such a powerful story should not be missed. If you hesitate at the length, try reading the book as five separate volumes. Each volume is easy to handle in this way, and the story is so powerful that you won’t forget important parts during your breaks. Trust me, the large amount of time you’ll dedicate to reading this will be worth it. Very highly recommended!
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on October 23, 2016
I haven't written a book report in almost 50 years, so bear with me a bit. Actually, I'm hardly qualified to review a book that's universally considered a classic, but I can make some comments.
Of course there's the play and movies, but obviously they couldn't have stuffed this long a book in two or three hours, so you should know:
Hugo relates a lot of history from the end of Napoleon to the 1830s, and a good deal of philosophy as well (reminded me a bit of War and Piece in that regard). Also makes many references to historic to (then) current philosophers and world movers; he also presents scientific analyses at times.
The story relies on a great deal of unlikely coincidences. Not uncommon in 19th century literature (I hated when Hardy did it, but did not mind when Dickens did). It did get to the point where I was starting to make some up myself.
This free translation is at least a little dated (it too is from the 19th century). The 'you' and 'thou' usage might take a little while to understand for a reader with absolutely no French background, especially as thou now seems more formal. There's also a product-of-the-times antisemitic reference, and gay is commonly used in the older sense. There were also some French passages that were only translated in footnotes (which I found a nuisance to go back and forth from). It might be worth ponying up the 99 cents to get a more modern translation.
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on May 8, 2017
Impossible not to read this great work. It is a deep study of human behaviour , with social and political criticism. The question whether a convict can be reenter society or not,and the mark that a convict will bear throughout his life. The contrast of good and evil. All this in the frame of French history.The deep influence in moral duty and how works in practice .Youth and love . If you are reading this lines to decide the reading of The Miserables , don't doubt a second READ IT it is worth the time you devote in the reading and after the sweet flavour of having read something that touched your soul.
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on January 19, 2013
This story of a poverty stricken man sentenced to years of imprisonment for the theft of a loaf of bread in the 19th century resonates with me as an Australian convict descendant. Like my ancestors from Britain and Ireland, Hugo’s character in France, Jean Valjean, has the opportunity to turn his life around, not through a Ticket of Leave in a new country but through an act of kindness.

The novel’s overall message of the goodness and beauty of human nature is an appealing one. Hugo opens the readers’ eyes to what is important in human interaction. He shows us that people are forced to become what they are by the rules and expectations of society which imprisons people even when there are no prison bars. Characters are stripped of the labels stamped on them by a judgemental society. For example, Valjean sees Fantine not as the prostitute she has forced to become but as a woman and a mother, a mother desperate to be reunited with her daughter. Instead of condemning her and taking advantage of her vulnerable situation Valjean respects her and helps her.

For those who are daunted by the prospect of reading one of the longest novels ever written it might be useful to approach it as five novels (1: Fantine 2: Cosette 3: Marius 4: Saint-Denis 5:Jean Valjean) and settle down to read one novel at a time.
Each volume is a leisurely narrative that includes lengthy descriptions of characters, settings, conditions and events; a narrative that wanders off onto tracks that don’t appear to have any connection with the plot which I found annoying and frustrating .

Such a book as Les Miserables deserves a longer review than I have time for. To summarise, it is a story of the human condition, of love, loss and hope, of French society in the 1800s, and it is a plea for social justice.

Those who are like me and enjoy reading Dickens are likely to enjoy Les Miserables.
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on July 19, 2017
Obviously this is a classic and a great story, and I enjoyed most of it, but just know that it is very verbose. The descriptions in the book are very detailed and paint the picture well, but just know that Hugo may take many pages to describe something like the appearance of a house for example. I admit I skipped a good bit of this book. I really enjoyed the Jean Valjean story line but some of the others that got away from that were not as interesting. Overall, I enjoyed what I read but now that I have the Kindle there are so many books I would like to read that I did not want to get bogged down in the slow parts of this one.
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on April 29, 2017
I like the book itself, but wading through the author's tangents took a lot of patience and time. This is an excellent historical and cultural work that can be applied to today's social and cultural issues. The app seems to malfunction with this book because I found it necessary to manually insert bookmarks and the app didn't adknowledge my bookmarks. The app quit responding multiple times thus making it difficult to finish the book. I found this quite frustrating. Otherwise I still like the book.
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on November 16, 2015
This book would not be the classic it is had it not been masterfully written. In it, the author presents several vignettes of life in pre-revolutionary France. It comprises deep characterizations of multiple people - good and bad, kind and cruel, logical and arbitrary. In so doing, it also points out these traits in mankind. The book has provided the story for the play and movie Les Mis, and the read goes very fast if one has enjoyed either one. If you have not familiar with the history of France in the pre-revolutionary period, it would be helpful to do a quick look up in Wikipedia or other source to understand the book's setting. The story line will have much more impact if you know the background. When I read the book, I continually heard in my mind the appropriate songs for the action from the play/movie. Even though my old World Literature professor would probably scoff at this, it greatly enhanced my enjoyment of the book.
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