Bleak House ★★★★★

bleak house (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: Bleak House
Series: ———-
Author: Charles Dickens
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Classic
Pages: 1047
Format: Digital Edition

 

Synopsis:

Shamelessly Stolen from Wikipedia

Sir Leicester Dedlock and his wife Honoria live on his estate at Chesney Wold. Unknown to Sir Leicester, before she married, Lady Dedlock had a lover, Captain Hawdon, and had a daughter by him. Lady Dedlock believes her daughter is dead.

The daughter, Esther, is in fact alive and being raised by Miss Barbary, Lady Dedlock’s sister. Esther does not know Miss Barbary is her aunt. After Miss Barbary dies, John Jarndyce becomes Esther’s guardian and assigns the Chancery lawyer “Conversation” Kenge to take charge of her future. After attending school for six years, Esther moves in with him at Bleak House.

Jarndyce simultaneously assumes custody of two other wards, Richard Carstone and Ada Clare (who are both his and one another’s distant cousins). They are beneficiaries in one of the wills at issue in Jarndyce and Jarndyce; their guardian is a beneficiary under another will, and the two wills conflict. Richard and Ada soon fall in love, but though Mr Jarndyce does not oppose the match, he stipulates that Richard must first choose a profession. Richard first tries a career in medicine, and Esther meets Allan Woodcourt, a physician, at the house of Richard’s tutor. When Richard mentions the prospect of gaining from the resolution of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, John Jarndyce beseeches him never to put faith in what he calls “the family curse”.

Meanwhile, Lady Dedlock is also a beneficiary under one of the wills. Early in the book, while listening to the reading of an affidavit by the family solicitor, Mr Tulkinghorn, she recognises the handwriting on the copy. The sight affects her so much she almost faints, which Tulkinghorn notices and investigates. He traces the copyist, a pauper known only as “Nemo”, in London. Nemo has recently died, and the only person to identify him is a street-sweeper, a poor homeless boy named Jo, who lives in a particularly grim and poverty-stricken part of the city known as Tom-All-Alone’s (“Nemo” is Latin for “nobody”).

Lady Dedlock is also investigating, disguised as her maid, Mademoiselle Hortense. Lady Dedlock pays Jo to take her to Nemo’s grave. Meanwhile, Tulkinghorn is concerned Lady Dedlock’s secret could threaten the interests of Sir Leicester and watches her constantly, even enlisting her maid to spy on her. He also enlists Inspector Bucket to run Jo out of town, to eliminate any loose ends that might connect Nemo to the Dedlocks.

Esther sees Lady Dedlock at church and talks with her later at Chesney Wold – though neither woman recognises their connection. Later, Lady Dedlock does discover that Esther is her child. However, Esther has become sick (possibly with smallpox, since it severely disfigures her) after nursing the homeless boy Jo. Lady Dedlock waits until Esther has recovered before telling her the truth. Though Esther and Lady Dedlock are happy to be reunited, Lady Dedlock tells Esther they must never acknowledge their connection again.

Upon her recovery, Esther finds that Richard, having failed at several professions, has disobeyed his guardian and is trying to push Jarndyce and Jarndyce to conclusion in his and Ada’s favour. In the process, Richard loses all his money and declines in health. He and Ada have secretly married, and Ada is pregnant. Esther has her own romance when Mr Woodcourt returns to England, having survived a shipwreck, and continues to seek her company despite her disfigurement. Unfortunately, Esther has already agreed to marry her guardian, John Jarndyce.

Hortense and Tulkinghorn discover the truth about Lady Dedlock’s past. After a confrontation with Tulkinghorn, Lady Dedlock flees her home, leaving a note apologising for her conduct. Tulkinghorn dismisses Hortense, who is no longer of any use to him. Feeling abandoned and betrayed, Hortense kills Tulkinghorn and seeks to frame Lady Dedlock for his murder. Sir Leicester, discovering his lawyer’s death and his wife’s flight, suffers a catastrophic stroke, but he manages to communicate that he forgives his wife and wants her to return.

Inspector Bucket, who has previously investigated several matters related to Jarndyce and Jarndyce, accepts Sir Leicester’s commission to find Lady Dedlock. At first he suspects Lady Dedlock of the murder but is able to clear her of suspicion after discovering Hortense’s guilt, and he requests Esther’s help to find her. Lady Dedlock has no way to know of her husband’s forgiveness or that she has been cleared of suspicion, and she wanders the country in cold weather before dying at the cemetery of her former lover, Captain Hawdon (Nemo). Esther and Bucket find her there.

Progress in Jarndyce and Jarndyce seems to take a turn for the better when a later will is found, which revokes all previous wills and leaves the bulk of the estate to Richard and Ada. Meanwhile, John Jarndyce cancels his engagement to Esther, who becomes engaged to Mr Woodcourt. They go to Chancery to find Richard. On their arrival, they learn that the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce is finally over, but the costs of litigation have entirely consumed the estate. Richard collapses, and Mr Woodcourt diagnoses him as being in the last stages of tuberculosis. Richard apologises to John Jarndyce and dies. John Jarndyce takes in Ada and her child, a boy whom she names Richard. Esther and Woodcourt marry and live in a Yorkshire house which Jarndyce gives to them. The couple later raise two daughters.

 

My Thoughts:

First off, I started out trying to synopsize this myself and gave up after 3 paragraphs. As you can see by the wiki synopsis, there is a ton of stuff going on and I simply didn’t feel like re-inventing the wheel. I have this feeling I’ll be doing more of that kind of thing for big, complicated books from now on. Besides, beyond me, who really reads those synopses anyway? And even I don’t read them except when I want to refresh my memory of what a book is about. I feel ashamed though, deep inside. Like I’m a school boy cheating on his test or something, hahahahahahaha! Yeah, ok, not really.

This was my 3rd time reading this and I have to say, it does nothing but get better with each reading. There are a wide range of characters, both in age and temperament that I suspect I’ll be able to enjoy at the various seasons of my life. From Richard and Ada as young lovers, to Esther who is guided by duty and rewarded with Love, to George the military man who just wants to do the right thing, to Lady Deadlock who appears cold and haughty even while her heart is breaking, to John Jarndyce, the Guardian and supporter of so many. And that is just to name a few. Dickens brings these people alive and makes them wonderful to read about. And the villains of the story range from the cruel and grasping to the inept and almost bumbling. I LIKED reading about them all.

This was a long book. Previously I’ve read it divided into 2 volumes (as that is what I own) but the ebook I read was one single volume. While it took me most of the month to work my way through this, I didn’t feel like I wished I was reading something else or that I was wasting my time. Reading Dickens is never a waste of my time. I realize that everyone isn’t going to share my particular love of Dickens but I sure wish everyone did. I tend to look at reading Dickens as an investment in myself. I enjoy the story, I enjoy the characters, I enjoy the themes (for the most part except when he gets a bit preachy about some social issue which has no relevance today) and I enjoy the writing style. Honestly, what more can I ask for from an author?

I don’t have any deep insights to offer and I’m not going to write a bunch of bull to sound like some Literati, but if you’ve never tried Dickens, for your own sake, please do. If he’s not for you, he’s not for you, but if he is, my goodness, you’re in for a world of wonder!

★★★★★

 

bookstooge (Custom)

 

26 thoughts on “Bleak House ★★★★★

  1. YouKneeK says:

    For what it’s worth, I almost always skip the synopsis or any parts of a review that are heavily plot-related unless I’ve read the book before, not just in your reviews but in everybody’s reviews, so I really like the way you separate out the synopsis from your thoughts. The personal thoughts are usually what I’m most interested in, and sometimes curiosity resulting from the reviewer’s thoughts will make me go back and read their synopsis if it’s a book I’m pretty sure I’ll never read.

    I usually do read or at least skim the synopsis reviewers write if I’ve read the book before, because it can be interesting to see how other people emphasize different things when they describe a book and that sometimes gives insights into their thoughts about it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mischenko says:

    That’s a long synopsis. I always add blurbs or summaries from Goodreads or Amazon and always though that was fine.

    I’m going to add this one. It sounds like there are great characters and I love that you gave it 5-stars after reading it that many times. I haven’t read enough Dickens, but I’m starting A Christmas Carol in a few weeks which we try to read every year. Excellent review of this and glad you enjoyed it. 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      A Christmas Carol is just so fantastic that I don’t have the words to do it justice 😀

      If you don’t have the time to read this, the BBC just did a mini-series starring Gillian Anderson (of X-Files fame) and it was extremely well done. I’m a big of Anderson and I think she’s just getting better as the days go by. I really liked her in Great Expectations and she did just as good a job in Bleak House.

      Like

  3. savageddt says:

    I still need to bite the bullet and read one of this man’s writing. Im putting it of till next year though

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like every Dickens’ books should be read several times to really have a full grasp on the plot and characters. I read Great Expectations at least twice before getting every aspects of the book 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I appreciate the synopsis, since this is a book I will probably never read. I don’t fully dislike Dickens (the way I dislike Steinbeck) but his work is generally not for me. I’m glad you enjoyed this one though!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. salonimore1702 says:

    I can totally relate to the whole synopsis thing! I always feel so tempted to just copy and paste from somewhere but I always feel very guilty at the prospect of doing so. Anyway, reading yet another of your Dickens reviews makes me want to read his books but I’ve got so many books on my TBR to get through first. :-/

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Off The TBR says:

    This is one I’ve never read but it’s been on my list forever

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sort of had a good life when I saw the size of that summary. I mean. It’s almost a direct correlation between length and appreciation! Glad to hear how good Dickens was with you. Again. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Agree with your thought that it gets better with each reading. Think I’ve read it 5 times now and will certainly read it again. Good post

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      Thank you.

      And good to know I’m not the only one who appreciates re-reading Dickens 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Bookstooge says:

      And by the way, thank you for the follow.

      I tried to go to your site, but it showed up as a “page not found” and no content. Is that deliberate on your part?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you. No, nothing deliberate on my part. Maybe incompetence, but these things iron themselves out over time. My blog is really a set of detailed notes on books with strong legal importance and as such isn’t designed for a wide audience. I would value your thoughts and hope you are able to follow at some stage. I would recommend dipping in and out rather than feeling any obligation to read the whole thing. Life’s too short and you could be reading proper books. All very good wishes. Simon

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bookstooge says:

          Just so we are on the same page. When I click your avatar here, it takes me to this page:
          https://lawandliterature980717731.wordpress.com/

          But that site has “page not found” even while existing but there appears to be no content or any way of finding content. Is it a private blog? Or am I going to the wrong address?

          I don’t mean to harp on this. I am just naturally curious about those who follow me and always try to take a glance and see.

          Like

          • It isn’t a private blog but it is a very new blog and thus may still have a few bugs in the system. That link takes me straight to my contents page and not to “page not found”. I wouldn’t waste too much curiosity on me. I like books, read a lot of them and am interested in what others find in books that I admire. I’d try the link again in a day or two by which time I may have written something to make your visit worthwhile.

            Liked by 1 person

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