“Read the abridged version when I was 14 and fell in love with the grand story Hugo has put into this book. I read the book again some years after, but the unabridged version, and I got to say I wish I had read this version first before the abridged.
There's something fuller, richer and grander with how Hugo presented the story when we include all of his "unnecessary" annotations. It helps the reader create a more realistic and relate-able world of Les Miserables - despite seemingly boring because of his long comments. It makes the characters rounder too, which is what makes this a timeless classic.
The abridged version, I believe, focuses the reader on the plot of the story, but the bigger part of that is the whole world that Hugo has created for all of his characters, which is expressed more beautifully in the unabridged version.”