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Les Misérables: Volume One

(Les Misérables #1)

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  8,326 ratings  ·  539 reviews
Les Miserables is widely considered one of the greatest novels of the 19th century. First published in France in 1862, it is Victor Hugo's greatest achievement--the ultimate tale of redemption. Former prisoner Jean Valjean struggles to live virtuously after an unexpected act of forgiveness by a kindly bishop changes his life. His righteous actions change people's lives in ...more
Paperback, 494 pages
Published January 7th 1994 by Wordsworth Editions Lrd (first published 1818)
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Average rating 4.37  · 
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 ·  8,326 ratings  ·  539 reviews


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Whitaker
Note: This is a review of the entire book, all five volumes. This is not spoiler free. But then, seriously, didn't you already watch the musical???

Phew! Finally finished! I started this in March, and it has taken six months to get to the bitter end. This was well and truly one of the more painful reads I've done. Hugo just goes on and on and on. 19 chapters on the battle of Waterloo; 8 chapters on the operating procedures of the convent to which Jean Valjean escapes when evading capture by Jave
...more
Incorrigible_bibliophile
Mar 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
I finished part one which means I'm halfway through! It took some getting used to the writing style of Hugo. He has a tendency to draw out the descriptions on everything, perhaps a little more than strictly necessary, but it did give me a great understanding of the world of Les Miserables and why the characters are the way they are. There were two tangent descriptions that I found myself skimming however, the description of Waterloo (50 pages!!) and the depiction of the convent of Petit Picpus ( ...more
Stephen Durrant
Oct 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have disappeared from Goodreads for over three months because I decided this summer to work my way through the unabridged two-volume unabridged Les Misérables in French. I confess it was a great deal of work, since my French is far from strong, but I can now report that the mission is accomplished. And, despite struggling, particularly with Hugo's long digressions (the Battle of Waterloo, the construction of the French sewer, etc.), it was one of the richest reading experiences of my life. Hug ...more
Gabrielle Dubois
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19th-century
Here's Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo. I read this book, when I was a teenager... a long time ago! :)
I read it in a French edition I couldn't find on Goodreads named La Pléïade. It's a famous and prestigious edition, dark green leather cover, with the thinnest pages you have ever had in hand. Which means that one never has the impression to go down in one’s reading and ... God this novel is huge! But, even if I was young, I couldn’t let it down. There’s everything I like : History, a good story,
...more
J.C.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: european
This review is for the three volumes, not just this first one.
I have been reading this great work for so long (six months) that I need to go through the cathartic experience of reviewing it just to resolve it in my mind. It was a re-reading, in French, so I can’t tell anyone what the translation into English is like. I do wonder how a translator copes with linguistic puns, which Hugo is fond of, and an entire section on “argot” (I hesitate to use the word ‘slang’ of such a highly developed form
...more
Jill
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A truly brilliant and timeless novel. Yes, the author does tend to ramble, but he presents so beautifully the honorable yet ultimately tragic beliefs of the revolutionaries, the transformation of Jean Valjean from brute peasant into a truly great man who lived his faith simply and honestly, the naivete of Marius and his final growth of understanding, the inability of Javert to accept even the existence of grace, and all the marvelous, timeless side characters surrounding these central characters ...more
Anca
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book saved my life.
Sandra
Jul 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not an easy read. Thank God I purchased a Kindle to look up A LOT of words. Some were in French and were not in my Kindle. Some sections required slower, more in depth reading, thus it took me a while to finish this. <>
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Les Mis is such an eloquently worded and captivating story. I struggled, as I am sure many have in some areas, and tried to just go slower. It is also tense and exciting, so that you tend to want to skip over some of those beautifully explained historical events such as
...more
David
Mar 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not what you think if all you've seen is the musical or one of the movie adaptations. The cliche description would be "sweeping" or "epic", but even such hyperbole doesn't come close to describing it. The story of Jean Valjean and Cosette is like a coat tree on which Hugo hangs the history of France from Waterloo to 1832, his theories of politics and religion, minutely detailed descriptions of various parts of Paris in the 1820's and 30's, the history of its sewer system, a critique ...more
Johnny D
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What can I write about this book that has not already been written by countless readers before me? What possible insight could I have that some academic has not already built up and then deconstructed (because that's what academics do, ammiright?) in a much finer and more eloquent manner than I could possibly even attempt?

The rich characters, the vibrant story-telling, the various themes and underlying philosophies - they've all been written up already. Some people like to retell the entire stor
...more
Riham
Mar 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i wish there was more than 5 stars..all authors usually focus on events but i never saw any authour who went deeply inside human's heart and mind and analysed it that great..the book is full of wisdom that it can be taken as one of the spiritual books in life..
this is the greatest book i ever did and ever will read..
Hugo was a messenger of truth
Jade  - theelderbooks
Les Misérables is a classic. It's especially a classic for me considering I'm a French book publishing student. However, I had NEVER read a true classic before this year (I won't count the short versions of some classics I read for school many years ago). Les Misérables was as good as any Hugo book to start reading his work, so here I am.

I won't bother too much with the plot, since it's so well-known everywhere. Basically, we have several characters, each trying to do something with their new li
...more
Amber Marshall
I finally finished! This was a huge book, but totally worth the read. Yes, even the parts where Hugo seems to go off on a historical recount or a philosophical tear. Everything comes back to the story no matter how "off topic" it seems. Everything colors the scene. Sure, there are a lot of names the average reader (even the well-educated one) may not know, but the main story is the important part. Skip the non-plot parts if you want, even though you may miss a few things because of it. The impor ...more
Zoe Cooper
Les Mis is a classic novel that uses a lot of symbolism to describe life and the trials people face every day. Although slightly pessimistic, Victor Hugo does an excellent job of capturing those naked feelings that people face everyday, and portrays them in a very appropriate manner. Main character, Jean Valjean, faces a series of choices that will determine his fate while he is chased by Javert, another main character. Throughout all their tribulations, they both learn valuable lessons at the c ...more
Amira Mahdy
Dec 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
" We should judge a man much more surely from what he dreams than from what he thinks. There is will in the thought, there is none in the dream. The dream, which is completely spontaneous, takes and keeps, even in the gigantic and the idea, the form of our mind. Nothing springs more directly and more sincerely from the very bottom of our souls than our unreflected and indefinite aspirations towards the splendors of destiny. In these aspirations, much more than in ideas which are combined, studie ...more
Basma Fawzy
Jun 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Victor Hugo, I loved your book and it bored me. If only you didn't digress too much. Why do I need to know so much about Waterloo and how Napoleon was defeated when your book is about the small people not the heroic ones? Why do you tell so much about the history of the covenant? I am in love with Jean Valjean, with every character he meets, with everything he does, with his background. Only for my favourite hero, Jean Valjean you get a complete 5 stars. But since this book is concerned with oth ...more
Claudia
After reading the first out of three volumes I have only three words left to say (mainly because it's 12:45 am and I'm typing this having just finished the book and I am so incredibly exhausted):

I am in love.

Les Mis has always been something very close to my heart, and I have fallen harder and harder ever since seeing the musical movie (that, I now know, does NOT do it justice). So this is so incredibly cathartic for me. Reading the book in its 'mother tongue' has allowed me to see more facets o
...more
Catherine
May 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Shelves: bogged-down
"Jean Valjean, my brother, you no longer belong to evil, but to good. It is your soul that I buy from you; I withdraw it from black thoughts and the spirit of perdition, and I give it to God." Vol. 1, Book First, Chapter XII

The power of grace.

I always knew I should read this classic work, but it always seemed overwhelming. I am ready for it now.
Maeros
I'll read the rest, then get back to you. Thus far; compelling, challenging, and pleasently like the musical - but far deeper, far better, and far more lovable.
Hailee
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now I understand why this book is called a literature masterpiece. To be honest I didn't think I could finish this after going through about half the pages; I got stuck on the part about Fantine and her early life in Paris and all the descriptions and references to the French society at that time, which I find somewhat interesting but quite difficult to fully comprehend. The language of the book is as expected so academic-like and at times I get a little frustrated with this style of writing, ho ...more
Ewa
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
OBVIOUSLY 5/5. That novel is the love of my life, and reading it in original may have been a trial for my nerves, but then again - true love demands sacrifices.

(Just one more volume)
Konrad Jervell
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic book that takes you on an emotional rollercoaster through the hardships of pre-industrial France.
Dark-Draco
I was so surprised about how much I enjoyed this book. It doesn't start off too well, with pages and pages of what feels like background story, but all of a sudden, it all makes sense and the story is well underway. To be honest, it does do this in other places, wanders off on a tangent that somehow gets you back to the tale eventually. And while this was slightly annoying, they were still worth reading as they illuminated the characters, the time and the author himself.

It is mainly about Jean
...more
Mrsgaskell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Tori Gingrich
When I was younger, I had read the abridged version of this book, and now that I am much older, I decided that I wanted to try and give the regular book a try. I thought that this book was amazing and way better than the abridged version that I read, even though it was really hard to understand because of the language that was used. The writing style was a little dull though, even though it was beautiful, I felt as if the author would just go on and on about one certain thing and eventually, I w ...more
Regitze
When I started this book, I knew that I would very quickly discover that the story of Les Misérables as I know it from the musical is far from all of the story. And that much is already quite evident from just the first half, or really the first part of the story, which tells the life story of a character barely named in the musical, but of immense influence on Jean Valjean.

I will write a full review once I have read volume two, as I very much consider it to be one book and I don't think it woul
...more
Laura
Jul 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who love classics and/or French culture
Recommended to Laura by: English class
I realized today that I have this listed as a favorite book in my profile, but it wasn't on my read list. It is another that I read in high school. Some parts are pretty simplistic and conventional, but it all comes together so romantically. Did you know it's said that Victor Hugo always wrote standing up? If you've seen the unabridged version of this book, he must've gotten tired! Anyway, I just really like Jean Valjean, including saying his name.

Wow, J'ai choisi la version Française! Regardez
...more
Rosemary
May 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Really enjoyed this and going straight on to volume 2.

Hugo can be wordy and there are long descriptions of people, events or places that may seem like digressions, but I recommend the unabridged version just because then you can pick which of these you want to read. I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the battle of Waterloo (which I knew almost nothing about before, although it's almost as important in British history as in French) and the convent. But most of it is an absorbing narrative
...more
Steve Pennell
Sep 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the all-time great stories. The story is inspired. Grace vs. Law. And Grace wins!

This is not, however, for the timid reader. Hugo writes entire chapters (over and over again) of historical and political and French social information that has almost nothing to do with the story itself but serves only to set a mood or set up a scene. If you aren't into historical trivia, read the abridged version.

Although movies always leave out important scenes -especially when the book is this long, the
...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Incorrect Page Count on ISBN 1853260851 3 104 Sep 29, 2013 09:29PM  
Reading it in Fr. 1 17 Feb 11, 2013 10:36AM  

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Victor Hugo, in full Victor-Marie Hugo, poet, playwrighter, novelist, dramatist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights campaigner, and perhaps the most influential exponent of the Romantic movement in France, who was the most important of the French Romantic writers. Though regarded in France as one of that country’s greatest poets, he is better known abroad for such novels as Notre-Dam ...more

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