Les MiserablesLes Miserables by Victor Hugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

wow! it’s like an Everything Salad.

plus, the audiobook unabridged edition is 60 hours 31 minutes long, so you’ll have no worries about running out for a long, long time.

is there anything i can add to comments about the text itself that hasn’t been said better, a million times before? probably not. but after 60 hours of togetherness, i’m really gonna miss this guy Hugo–he had a huge heart, an avid, curious mind, and a way with a pen, i’m sure. it’s for the first of those qualities that i will miss him most, though–his ability to find the good in even the most marginal character and celebrate both the good and the character. life, for Hugo, must have been a big huge buffet of 100% interesting things, and where there was good to find, i’m sure he found it.

it’s hard to comment on a translation when you cannot read the original language, but i bet this translation (by Julie Rose) raises a lot of eyebrows. the language is so colloquial, sometimes almost jazzy, improvisational and full of slang and even better, low-life slang. i really liked it–i had expected some stuffiness, some victorian stiltedness to the language, and boy howdy was it not there. a very pleasant surprise.

finally, the reader of this audiobook–George Guidall–does a fabulous job. the sort of baseline things are done very well: each character has a distinct voice, narrative shifts get marked in that magical way that i can’t identify but you know when you hear, etc etc. bravo job there.

but for extra credit: i cannot even imagine the weeks and months it must have taken to record this, but Guidall always sounds fresh and interested. even up to the last, when Hugo goes haring off digressing about the shop that rents respectable clothing to crooks (when i think most of us would have been hauled off shrieking and foaming), Guidall just sounds kind of charmed at these rogues.

in short, it’s a standing ovation all around: the book, the translation, the audio performance. highly recommended.