by Charles Dickens
"In Bleak House Dickens presents a critical picture of England in 1853. He condemns the insidious power of a hideous legal system which creeps like London fog into the lives of every character in the book. Dickens ingeniously links characters from all backgrounds from Esther Summerson, an orphan given support by the kindly Mr. Jarndyce, owner of Bleak House, to Lady Dedlock who lives with a secret she can't reveal. Tulkinghorn, the ruthless lawyer, Krook the shopkeeper and Jo, the pathetic crossing-sweeper, are all finely drawn characters that enrich this story of the unravelling of Lady Dedlock's secret by Inspector Bucket, whose appearance in this novel can give it a claim to be the first English detective novel." (From the CD container.)
While in the end I liked Bleak House quite a bit, it is my least favorite of the four Charles Dickens books I've read. The tone is much more A Tale of Two Cities, than, say, Nicholas Nickleby, but that wasn't a problem. A Tale of Two Cities is, after all, my favorite Dickens book so far. My issue was that it took a long time for Bleak House to come together for me. I was having trouble keeping track of characters and what anyone had to do with anything or anybody. Once I started to grasp it all, though, I ended up being just as enthralled with this work as I was with the rest.
I am one of those readers who would rave endlessly about the amazing characters in Dickens' writing. They come to life in a manner that most authors can only wish for. They stay with me when the story is over, and that isn't normal for me. My mind tends to move on to the next book quickly. And being a Dickens newbie, his artful phrasing of words is still a delight for me. I'm very pleased to have many of his books yet to explore.
I have a Teaching Company lecture on this book waiting for me when I get back to my Classic Novels course, so I will be revisiting Bleak House in the future with a more analytical eye. For now, I just wanted to let you know if you can get past the scary size of the thing and push beyond the confusion of so many seemingly unrelated characters and events in the beginning, it is worth it in the end.
Other Charles Dickens related posts on Books 'N Border Collies:
A Christmas Carol
A Tale of Two Cities
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!