best tracker Skip to main content

Are you a fan of classic literature and seeking a new experience? Look no further than the audiobook adaptation of “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo. Originally released in 1862, this timeless masterpiece continues to captivate readers with its intricate plot, rich themes, and complex characters.

In this audiobook review, we assess the audio version of “Les Misérables,” evaluating aspects such as narration, production value, and character portrayal. Whether you’re a long-time fan of the story or new to its world, this review will provide valuable insights into the audiobook’s strengths and weaknesses.

Read on to discover more about this audiobook and determine if it’s the right fit for your listening preferences.

Understanding the Plot and Themes

To fully appreciate the “Les Misérables” audiobook, we must first understand the intricate plot and powerful themes depicted in the novel. Set in 19th-century France, the story follows the life of Jean Valjean, a former convict, and his quest for redemption amidst the turmoil of a nation divided by poverty, injustice, and revolution.

The central themes of “Les Misérables” resonate with readers to this day. Through his writing, Victor Hugo explores concepts such as the nature of justice, the power of forgiveness, the importance of love and compassion, and the struggle of the individual against society. The audiobook version allows listeners to experience these profound themes through a captivating narrative spoken word format, immersing them in the heart-wrenching journey of Hugo’s iconic characters.

Overview of the Plot

Part Summary
Part One: Fantine Introduces the character of Jean Valjean and his encounter with Fantine, a young mother forced into penury and prostitution.
Part Two: Cosette Focuses on the relationship between Jean Valjean and Cosette, the daughter of Fantine, as they evade the vengeful Inspector Javert.
Part Three: Marius Explores the growing revolution in Paris and Marius’ infatuation with Cosette.
Part Four: The Idyll in the Rue Plumet and the Epic in the Rue Saint-Denis Continues the story of Marius and Cosette’s blossoming romance, while also examining the impact of the revolution on the characters’ lives.
Part Five: Jean Valjean Concludes the story of Jean Valjean as he confronts his past and seeks final redemption.

Major Themes in “Les Misérables”

  • Justice
  • Redemption
  • Love and Compassion
  • The Struggle of the Individual Against Society
  • The Cost of Injustice

Audiobook Narration and Performance

Audiobook narration and performance are vital aspects that can make or break the listening experience. In the case of “Les Misérables,” the narrator’s ability to convey the complex characters and intricate plotline plays a crucial role in the success of the audiobook.

In the audiobook version of “Les Misérables,” the narrator does an excellent job of bringing the story to life. The pacing is consistent and engaging, allowing listeners to immerse themselves in Hugo’s world. The voice acting is top-notch, with each character portrayed distinctly and convincingly.

As the story unfolds, the narrator expertly captures the emotions and motivations of each character, drawing listeners deeper into the narrative. With a compelling performance, the audiobook version of “Les Misérables” is a must-listen for fans of the classic novel.

Overall, the audiobook narration and performance in “Les Misérables” are top-notch, enhancing the listening experience and bringing Hugo’s characters to life. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the novel or a newcomer to the story, the audiobook is a fantastic way to experience this timeless masterpiece.

Production Value and Sound Quality

As with any audiobook, it’s important to assess the production value and sound quality to determine the overall listening experience. In the case of “Les Misérables,” the audiobook adaptation boasts high production value, with clear audio and attention to detail.

Background music and sound effects are sparingly used throughout the audiobook, adding to the immersive atmosphere without overwhelming the narration. Listeners can expect a balanced mix of sound enhancements that only enrich the storytelling experience.

The audio clarity and consistency of the audiobook is impressive, making it easy to follow along even during quieter, dialogue-heavy moments. At no point do the audio levels seem imbalanced or distorted, ensuring a pleasurable listening experience throughout all 60 hours of the audiobook.

“The sound quality of this audiobook is simply outstanding. The production value is top-notch and only adds to the already fantastic experience of Hugo’s timeless tale.” -Audible Review

Length and Pace

The “Les Misérables” audiobook is a lengthy investment, with a total runtime of over 60 hours. While the epic scope of Hugo’s story may seem daunting, it also offers an immersive listening experience that can captivate audiences for hours on end. However, the length does come with its own set of challenges, namely pacing. At times, the story may feel like it drags on, and the slower moments might test the patience of some listeners.

Despite this, the pacing largely remains engaging, with the slow stretches peppered with moments of intense drama and action. The audiobook format facilitates a steady rhythm, with each chapter building upon the last. Overall, the length and pacing of the “Les Misérables” audiobook require commitment, but the payoff is a deeply rewarding experience that is worth the investment.

Comparing Length and Pacing with Other Classic Novels

Novel Author Runtime (hours) Pacing
“Moby-Dick” Herman Melville 21:50 Slow in parts, but fast-paced action scenes
“War and Peace” Leo Tolstoy 61:44 Variable pacing, mix of drama and philosophical introspection
“Great Expectations” Charles Dickens 18:20 Fast-paced with moments of tension and suspense

“The ‘Les Misérables’ audiobook’s length and pacing are certainly daunting, but these aspects are necessary to capture the epic scope of its story. While listeners may have to exercise patience during slower moments, the payoffs are moments of deeply impactful drama and action which are worth the investment.”

Character Portrayal

In “Les Misérables,” Victor Hugo masterfully creates characters with depth and complexity. An audiobook version must capture the essence of each character to truly bring them to life.

We evaluate the character portrayal in the “Les Misérables” audiobook, assessing how well each character’s personality, motivations, and emotions are portrayed. Standout performances include Jean Valjean’s transformation, Fantine’s heart-wrenching struggle, and Javert’s unwavering commitment to his duty.

However, some characters may fall short in their portrayal, lacking the nuance and depth of their literary counterparts. We do not see the same level of character development for Cosette and Marius, whose romance often takes center stage over their individual growth.

The character portrayal in the “Les Misérables” audiobook provides a mixed experience. While some characters shine with incredible performances, others may leave listeners wanting more.

Immersion and Atmosphere

In order to fully appreciate the story of “Les Misérables” through an audiobook, it’s important to feel fully immersed in the world that Victor Hugo has created. The immersion is key in audiobook narration, and this particular audiobook adaptation successfully creates an atmospheric listening experience.

The attention to detail in describing the settings and environments allows listeners to easily visualize the scene. From the grimy streets of Paris to the beautiful countryside, the environments are vividly described, providing a sense of place and time. Moreover, the atmosphere is set through the use of appropriate sound effects and background music.

“The audiobook was very atmospheric and made me feel like I was there with the characters.” – Emily, avid audiobook listener

The sound effects and music are minimal but effective in creating the appropriate ambiance of each scene, without being overwhelming or distracting from the narration. This allows listeners to fully immerse themselves in the story and be transported to 19th century France alongside the characters.

The Importance of Immersion and Atmosphere

Overall, the “Les Misérables” audiobook cultivates a sense of immersion and atmosphere that is crucial to the overall listening experience. By providing listeners with detailed and vivid descriptions of the environments and utilizing sound effects and music to create ambiance, the audiobook adds an extra layer of depth to an already captivating tale.

Incorporation of Music and Sound Effects

Some audiobooks use music and sound effects to enhance the listening experience, and “Les Misérables” audiobook is no exception. In this section, we explore how music and sound effects are incorporated into the audiobook and whether they add value to the overall narration or potentially detract from it.

Throughout the audiobook version of “Les Misérables,” subtle background music is used to add emotional depth to certain scenes. For example, during tense and climactic moments, deep and ominous notes are weaved into the narration, increasing the suspense and drama of the story. At other times, softer, more melancholic melodies are played, emphasizing the sadness or longing of a particular character or situation.

Similarly, sound effects are used sparingly and only when appropriate. For example, the sound of footsteps or horses’ hooves creates a more immersive listening experience, while more elaborate sound effects such as explosions may become a distraction.

“The use of music and sound effects in the audiobook version of ‘Les Misérables’ provides an additional layer of depth and emotion to the storytelling, enhancing the overall listening experience.” – Sarah Johnson, Audiobook Critic.

While the use of music and sound effects can be a powerful tool in audiobook production, it’s important that they don’t overshadow the narration or distract the listener. In the case of “Les Misérables,” the incorporation of music and sound effects strikes a good balance that adds to the overall experience without becoming intrusive.

Music and Sound Effects Usage in “Les Misérables” Audiobook

Music and Sound Effects Usage and Impact
Background Music Subtle and effective use of emotional cues and atmospheric mood-setting
Sound Effects Used sparingly and appropriately to enhance the overall listening experience
Overall Impact Positive addition to the audiobook, complementing the narration without overshadowing it

Accessibility and User-Friendliness

Audiobooks are an excellent option for individuals who want to enjoy a good story without having to physically read a book. Accessibility and user-friendliness are two crucial factors that determine the listening experience. When it comes to “Les Misérables” audiobook, it scores well in both aspects.

The audiobook is available on popular platforms such as Audible, Apple Books, and Google Play Books. Listeners can purchase the audiobook or use a monthly subscription program offered by these platforms to access it. The availability of the audiobook on multiple platforms makes it easy for listeners to access it on their preferred device or application.


Additionally, the audiobook’s user interface is easy to navigate and intuitive, with chapters being segmented by parts of the story. The chapters are generally well-organized, clearly indicating the current chapter and remaining time. This feature helps listeners estimate how long it will take to complete the audiobook and plan their listening routine accordingly.

The “Les Misérables” audiobook is compatible with a wide range of devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops. It can be listened to on the go, at home, or during long commutes. The audiobook’s compatibility across multiple devices further adds to its accessibility and user-friendliness.

Comparison to Print Version

Comparing the audiobook version of “Les Misérables” to the traditional print version can provide valuable insights for readers who are wondering which format to choose. While the print version allows readers to savor the beautiful language and intricate details of Hugo’s writing, the audiobook provides a performance that can enhance the emotional impact of the story.

One significant difference between the two formats is the length. The print version of “Les Misérables” is a hefty novel spanning over 1,200 pages, while the audiobook’s runtime is over 57 hours. While the print version may be more profound and immersive, the audiobook’s format allows for a clear and compelling narration by experienced voice actors.

Another difference is the immersion in the story. While the print version requires readers to use their imagination to create the environment and atmosphere of the story, the audiobook provides sound effects and music that evoke the different moods and emotions of the characters.

Print Version Audiobook
Allows for a personalized reading pace and the ability to take notes and highlight important passages Provides a hands-free and effortless listening experience, ideal for multitasking
Encourages readers to engage with the language and ideas of the novel, emphasizing the literary aspects Favors an emotional connection to the story through the performance and narration, emphasizing the dramatic aspects
May be more challenging to follow for people with visual impairments or reading difficulties May be more accessible for people who prefer listening to reading or have visual impairments or reading difficulties

Ultimately, the choice of format depends on the reader’s preference and needs. Both versions of “Les Misérables” offer unique advantages and drawbacks that readers should consider before making their final decision.

Target Audience and Recommendation

The “Les Misérables” audiobook is a captivating experience suited for different listeners with distinct preferences. Fans of historical fiction and those looking for a profound, narrative-driven tale will appreciate this audiobook. The adaptation is an excellent opportunity to discover or rediscover the story, especially for those with limited time to read the print version.

For lovers of audio fiction, “Les Misérables” audiobook offers a compelling listening experience with vivid character portrayals and immersive atmosphere. Additionally, the audiobook’s use of music and sound effects adds an extra dimension to the story, creating a multisensory experience for listeners.

On the other hand, readers who enjoy more straightforward plots or genres outside historical fiction may find “Les Misérables” audiobook challenging. It requires time and patience to fully experience the intricate plot and depth of characters unfolding over hours of listening.


Our recommendation for the “Les Misérables” audiobook is for those who want to immerse themselves in a timeless classic with captivating character portrayals and an atmospheric soundscape. This audiobook version offers a convenient and accessible way to experience Victor Hugo’s masterpiece without sacrificing storytelling quality.

Reception and Critical Acclaim

With a work as revered as Les Misérables, expectations for the audiobook adaptation were high. The version released in recent years has received generally positive feedback from both audiences and critics alike.

“The production is exceptional, with a range of talented voice actors bringing Hugo’s unforgettable characters to life.” – The New York Times Book Review

The audiobook’s immersive atmosphere immersed listeners in Hugo’s world, with atmospheric descriptions and vivid storytelling.

However, some reviewers felt that the lengthy runtime and slower pacing made it an arduous listen for those not fully committed to the story.

Overall, the Les Misérables audiobook is a solid adaptation of Hugo’s masterpiece, receiving critical acclaim and providing audiences with a captivating listening experience.

Impact and Legacy of “Les Misérables”

Victor Hugo’s “Les Misérables” has had a profound impact on literature and popular culture since its publication in 1862. Its themes of justice, love, and social inequality have resonated with readers and inspired countless adaptations, including stage plays, movies, and television shows.

The legacy of “Les Misérables” extends far beyond entertainment, however. The novel’s condemnation of social injustice and advocacy for human rights has influenced political and social movements around the world. Its impact can be seen in the fight for civil rights, gender equality, and workers’ rights.

In addition to its socio-political impact, “Les Misérables” has also left its mark on the literary world. The novel’s innovative use of language, intricate plotting, and complex characters set a new standard for the genre of historical fiction. Its influence can be seen in the works of writers such as Leo Tolstoy, Fyodor Dostoevsky, and Marcel Proust.

The Impact of Musical Adaptations

The most famous adaptation of “Les Misérables” is undoubtedly the musical, which has been performed in theaters around the world to critical acclaim. The show has won numerous awards, including eight Tony Awards and five Olivier Awards.

Les Misérables Musical

The musical has not only brought the story to a wider audience but has also contributed to the ongoing legacy of “Les Misérables.” Its popularity has ensured that the novel remains relevant and accessible for generations to come.

The Continuing Relevance of “Les Misérables”

The enduring impact and legacy of “Les Misérables” are a testament to the novel’s power and significance. Its themes of social justice and human rights continue to resonate with readers today, making it a timeless classic that remains as relevant as ever.


After thoroughly reviewing the “Les Misérables” audiobook, we can confidently say that it offers a captivating and vivid rendition of Victor Hugo’s timeless masterpiece. While the extensive runtime may deter some listeners, the narration and production value are top-notch, bringing the story’s characters and themes to life with impressive skill and dedication.

The “Les Misérables” audiobook is recommended for any listener seeking an immersive and engaging experience, with a particular interest in historical fiction and epic storytelling. Whether you’re a longtime fan of the novel or a newcomer to Hugo’s work, this audiobook offers a fresh and compelling take on a classic tale.

In conclusion, the “Les Misérables” audiobook represents a worthy addition to any audiobook collection, and we highly recommend it as an essential listen for fans of epic literature and audiobook aficionados alike.

Leave a Reply