Les Miserables Cover

Les Miserables has been called the most important novel of the 19th century. It’s a tale of war and revolution, a touching love story, and a tale with some of the most memorable characters you’ll find in any work of fiction. Most of all, it’s a story about a desperate thief whose life is changed forever when a kind bishop, catching him in the act of stealing precious silver, forgives him. Accustomed to living only for himself, Jean Valjean becomes a kindhearted man who helps a dying woman, cares for her child as if she were his own…and puts his life on the line to help an innocent stranger. 

Les Miserables tells of the triumph of good over evil, of love over hatred, and of mercy over the letter of the law.

Being thrilled with the Focus on the Family radio theatre adaptation of the Chronicles of Narnia, I jumped at the chance to listen to their version of Victor Hugo’s classic tale. Having seen the musical several times and watched the newest movie, I thought I knew the story well. I was in for a surprise. This radio drama brings in many aspects of the book that are left out of the Broadway and Hollywood versions that better develop the themes of redemption and mercy. I was blown away!

While I realize that this is a family-friendly version of the story, I was disappointed that this adaptation denies that Fantine had to descend to the depths to keep her daughter and herself alive. Fantine and Valjean on several occasions skirt around the issue, lead the listener to believe that she is innocent of any such claim, and never deal with how she survived after being fired from the factory. I would not want graphic details included, but I believe it could have been addressed in a ‘safe for family listening’ way to further develop the themes.

The cast is strong, the background sound effects are not overdone and the score is fitting (although difficult to get used to when you have the original score memorized). There are 3 CDs and the story is 169 minutes long – it could have been longer! It was my middle school children who kept begging to put the story back on while on a recent road trip – they loved it! This is a wonderful adaptation of Les Miserables and is a must have audio book for your next road trip!

I give this audiobook 5 stars out of 5.

I received this book free from Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.