Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bleak House // Book Review

Bleak House by Charles Dickens (annotated) Bleak House is a satirical look at the Byzantine legal system in London as it consumes the minds and talents of the greedy and nearly destroys the lives of innocentsa contemporary tale indeed. Dickens's tale takes us from the foggy dank streets of London and the maze of the Inns of Court to the peaceful countryside of England. Likewise, the characters run from murderous villains to virtuous girls, from a devoted lover to a "fallen woman," all of whom are affected by a legal suit in which there will, of course, be no winner. 
The first-person narrative related by the orphan Esther is particularly sweet. 
Readers must pay close attention in order to keep up with the multiple narratives and cast of curious characters, including the memorable Inspector Bucket and Mr. Guppy. Fortunately, the publisher provides a partial list of characters on the inside jacket.

Where to even start with Bleak House? First, it's massive; So huge it's mind blowing occasionally. Second. it's amazing. I watched a movie adaptation before I read this, (it's eight hours long, but oh so good! It's totally worth it. Do yourself a favor and go watch it!), so I knew what was going on, and it did make it a little easier to keep track of characters.
      Esther is so sweet and lovely. It's hard for me to pick between her and Amy Dorrit, for a favorite Dickens heroine.  
     Bleak House was full of twists and new plotlines, and constantly bringing forth new ideas and bizarre characters. Perhaps that is what I enjoy most about Dickens novels;his unexpected, different and strange characters that all work together to create a massive storyline. The more I read Dickens' novels, the more I am able to recognize his sense of humor, and his books make me laugh. (and cry!) It has taken cultivating the recognition that he is cracking a joke, but once I got used to his sense of humor, I have found his books extremely amusing. ("Mrs. Bagnet, tell him my opinion..."  probably my favorite line in the book, and he say's it all the time! :) I don't think I could pick a favorite, amusing character. I loved Bucket, Mr. Guppy, the Bagnets, George, Jenny, Jo,  Judy and Grandfather Smallweed, (and Grandmother Smallweed for that matter. She was exceedingly amusing.), Allen, the list could go on and on. 

     So basically my thoughts on this beautiful, complex book is this: It's huge, and can be hard to read at times, due to descriptions and long narratives, but it's worth ploughing your way through. The story and characters are amazing, and so much fun. It's beautiful. :)

my rating: * * * * * {five of five}

Have you read this? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts, insights, favorite lines or characters. :) let's talk!


  1. Dickens wrote his best characters in his later works. I have not read Bleak House but plan to in the near future.

  2. Love the movie. But any Dickens book? Yep, it taunts me with how daunting they ALL are. ;)

    Good for you reading through it.

  3. I actually haven't read any Dickens save "A Christmas Carol" last Christmas...
    I love "old" books like Wives and Daughters and Pride and Prejudice though! :)
    Bleak House. Hmm, I watched it a few months ago, kinda lost me here and there, but it was pretty good. Which version did you watch? I watched the version with Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliott.
    Oh. by the way, have you ever watched Martin Chuzzlewit? (the version with Paul Scofield, John Mills, and Tom Wilkinson)
    I like that one. :)
    Ya know, I read your profile a few months ago, and thought that it would be cool if we could meet somehow, because we seemed to like a lot of the same things...But then today, I saw the pics of your little brothers, and you, and realized that we meet just couple weeks ago at church! (I'm part of the Wilcox family!)
    Funny huh?
    ~ Megan (Megs) Wilcox

    1. I haven't read Wives and Daughters yet, but I am really looking forward to it. (You should look into North and South, by Elisabeth Gaskell... It was wonderful!!)

      Umm, I watched the 2005 mini series with Anna Maxwell Martin and Dennis Lawson. (Esther and Jarndyce.) I loved it!!! (It was the BBC version.)

      I haven't watched Martin Chuzzlewit, but I did read the book last year, and enjoyed it a lot.

      Oh, how funny. I'm glad we met... it does seem like we have a lot in common. :) I did remember you commented before, I just didn't know who you were. (Did you know who I was? :)... I just went back and found it. It was near the beginning of February. :)

    2. I've watched North and South. (the one you like I think. You posted about once)
      Hmm, the 2005 version sounds neat! :D I'll try reading Martin Chuzzlewit sometime, I think I'd like it too! :)
      Yeah, I had fun over at your house! :D
      Nope, I had no idea who you were before! Yep I went back and looked to see if I had commented too. ;)
      See you Sunday maybe?

  4. Glad you liked it :) I don't know, any nine-hundred-plus-page classic seems pretty daunting to me at the moment. But Dickens was a genius, so I'm sure I'll really like it once I get to it :)

    walking in the air.

  5. This book sounds great! I want to go check it out...thanks so much for the review!


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