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Bleak House

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  64,906 Ratings  ·  2,748 Reviews
Bleak House is a novel by Charles Dickens, published in 20 monthly installments between March 1852 and September 1853. It is held to be one of Dickens's finest novels, containing one of the most vast, complex and engaging arrays of minor characters and sub-plots in his entire canon.

At the novel's core is long-running litigation in England's Court of Chancery, Jarndyce v Ja
Paperback, 1017 pages
Published January 6th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1853)
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Laura That's interesting. Two winters ago I read The Brothers Karamazov. This year I'm deciding between Bleak House and Crime and Punishment. The Brothers…moreThat's interesting. Two winters ago I read The Brothers Karamazov. This year I'm deciding between Bleak House and Crime and Punishment. The Brothers will stay with you, but I am not sure I had the best translation, so consider that when making your choice (which I suspect is long since done!).(less)
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Dec 02, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fresh young people who have not yet ruined their eyesight
Shivering in unheated gaslit quarters (Mrs. Winklebottom, my plump and inquisitive landlady, treats the heat as very dear, and my radiator, which clanks and hisses like the chained ghost of a boa constrictor when it is active, had not yet commenced this stern and snowy morning), I threw down the volume I had been endeavoring to study; certainly I am not clever, neither am I intrepid nor duly digligent, as after several pages I found the cramped and tiny print an intolerable strain on my strabism ...more
Feb 27, 2012 B0nnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: you
Shelves: favourite-books
Bleak House. How can it be over? I hold this incredible book in my hand and can’t believe I have finished it. The 965 page, 2 inch thick, tiny-typed tome may seem a bit intimidating. Relax, you can read it in a day - that is, if you read one page per minute for 16 hours. And you might just find yourself doing that.

Bleak House is more Twilight Zone than Masterpiece Theatre. However there is enough spirit of both to satisfy everyone. And indeed it should - it has it all - unforgettable characte
Paul Bryant
Mar 09, 2012 Paul Bryant rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
Okay, so this is the 1853 version of The Wire. But with less gay sex. And no swearing. And very few mentions of drugs. And only one black person, I think, maybe not even one. And of course it's in London, not Baltimore. But other than that, it's the same.

Pound for pound, this is Dickens' best novel, and of course, that is saying a great deal. I've nearly read all of them so you may take my word. Have I ever written a review which was anything less than 101% reliable, honest and straightforward?

Reading Bleak House has had a redeeming effect for me. Before this marvel took place Dickens evoked for me either depressing black and white films in a small and boxy TV watched during oppressive times, or reading what seemed endless pages in a still largely incomprehensible language. Dickens meant then a pain on both counts.

In this GR group read I have enjoyed Bleak House tremendously.

In the group discussion many issues have been brought up by the members. First and foremost the critique on the
Sep 01, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, english-lit
I know, something about a 900 page book with bleak in the title doesn’t exactly scream “summer fun”. Nevertheless, this was a page-turner with more laugh-out-loud moments than any book I've read in recent memory. Who could have seen that coming?? And it's gripping enough that I can understand why it was a bestseller, in spite of Dickens’ harsh social criticism and his rather daring innovation of dual narratives. But the story is a winner largely because of the dual narratives, which bob and weav ...more
Jason Koivu
Jun 09, 2014 Jason Koivu rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, humor
Between Thanksgiving and Christmas my reading pace ground to a halt. Thanks a lot Dick...........ens!

This is a long book, but I've read longer ones that didn't seem half as long as Bleak House. Saharan-esque stretches of plodding plot didn't help. But more than that, this book suffers from having too much character, and characters with character, characterful characters with character to spare and well, you get the point.

By the time Dickens had written Bleak House he'd experienced almost every
Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic-novels
I get why people dislike the legal system. It’s slow, complicated, and costly. And the only time you hear about it is when an apparently horrible decision is reached. (I shudder at how many people were ready to scrap the jury system after the Casey Anthony verdict).

As a lawyer, though, I see the legal system’s virtues (and as a public defender, its virtues, for me at least, do not include a hefty paycheck). For one, lawsuits are a better alternative than self-help justice. If your neighbor build
Dave Russell
Feb 16, 2012 Dave Russell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, classics
Finally finished it and it only took me four months [pats self on back, does a little victory dance and then weeps,] but I'm so glad I read it. This is a book--like The Brothers Karamozov--that makes the subsequent books the author wrote seem superfluous. It contains multitudes. All of humanity is represented here (well, all of Victorian English humanity at any rate.) The truest--and shortest--sentence of the book is the first one: "London."

The organizing metaphor of the book is the Chancery Co
Mar 05, 2016 Yamini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: in-print, classics
A new favorite. This almost never happens.

I curse listening to readers of my generation and all those who’ve kept me from Dickens so long. One of the major complaints I hear about Dickens is that he’s verbose. Maybe it’s because today we expect everything short and quick and thus our minds are trained to gloss over any sentence longer then 10 words long, but I have to disagree with this statement. I think Dickens has a tendency to meander about here and there but to say a 900 page book could’ve
May 25, 2013 Lawyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
Recommended to Lawyer by: Kindred Spirits Group Read
Bleak House: Charles Dickens on Fog and Fossils

"The wheels of justice turn slowly but grind exceedingly fine.

 photo BleakHouseIssue1_zps86f575ac.jpg
Issue One, Bleak House, March, 1852

Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of this review or whether that station shall be held by another will depend upon the lines on this page. For, you see, although I was not born a lawyer I became one.

I would beg the reader's attention to hold a moment. For, as Charles Lamb has told us, "Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." I was--an innocent
MJ Nicholls
Roll back to 1986—I was touring with Loudon Wainwright III upon the release of his More Love Songs album (which includes the famous ‘Your Mother & I’) when Loud strikes up a confab about Dickens. “Nicholls,” he begins, bunk-loafing in his usual roguish manner. “I do declay-ah that Bleak House is the greatest novel of the century, yessir-ee.” I was strumming a zither at the time, co-writing a song that would later appear on History. “Loud, you must be out of your mind. Everyone knows now that ...more
Which house in Charles Dickens's novel is "Bleak House"?

It surely cannot be the house which bears its name; a large airy house, which we first visit in the company of the young wards of Jarndyce, Ada Clare and Richard Carstone, and their companion Esther. Ironically, this "Bleak House" is anything but bleak. It is a pleasant place of light and laughter. Mr. Jarndyce imprints his positive outlook on life, never allowing the lawsuit to have any negative influence. Indeed, when he first took on the

Dickens is all about sentiments– you may run down his books as melodramas, tear-jerkers, 'poverty-porn' & so on but there is no denying their visceral appeal, for what are we without sentiments?

Bleak House, Dickens' masterpiece, has all of his staple/ trademark ingredients– an inheritance, a missing will, a mystery, angelic damsels, fairy godfather, old school gentlemen, evil-plotting villains, grotesque caricatures, a wide variety of humour- from biting satire, drollery, to crazy slapstick,

And so thirty-one Regency romances, fifteen Kindle freebies, innumerable cups of tea and many more books later, I have finally finished this Dickens masterpiece. It took me exactly thirteen months, and I had time to read an alarming total of eighty-three books in between the start and finish of Bleak House.

Why the five stars then, you ask? If it took me that long to get through it, surely it's not worth the effort?

Well, it is. It's awesome.

Very put-downable in my opinion though, and I will be
One of the pleasures of reading a few books of an author's work is to see the parallels and changing style. Here in this huge late Dickens slice of life social commentary is combined with comic grotesques. Political commentary is given depth with sentimentality. The Jarndyce and Jarndyce case, a gigantic cog wheel whose teeth catch up one smaller wheel after after. All of society seems to be caught up from the street sweeper to the noble Baronet in a single huge mechanism driven by avarice rathe ...more
This is only the second Dickens novel I've ever read and it was probably not the best novel to read around Christmas time. The story is bleak and gloomy. It's set in foggy, dirty Victorian London, there is a lot of mention of dirt, squalor, disease, death and poverty. Some parts were really quite depressing and upsetting.

The story is narrated in part by the orphaned Esther, who I had a lot of trouble warming up to in the story. I'm used to stronger female narrators but she was too modest, probab
Gary  the Bookworm
Apr 21, 2013 Gary the Bookworm rated it it was amazing
I find it hard to believe that it's only been a month since I first entered Bleak House. The Goodreads group read had been going on for some time and I was so far behind that I pretty much listened/read it on my own. I had trouble finding a good audio version (don't bother with Librivox and if you buy it at iTunes, be forewarned that the Apple geniuses won't let you bookmark easily; thankfully there's an app that will). Anyway it took me awhile to work out the details and immerse myself in what ...more
Mar 01, 2016 Paul rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘The one great principle of the English law is to make business for itself...'

Sadly, this quote from Bleak House is as true today as it was in Dickens' time. Being caught up in a protracted legal battle myself, I have first-hand experience of this (and, no, I don’t want to talk about it, thanks). It was almost enough to make me want to put off reading this book until a later, less angst-ridden, date… but no; I’d decided I wanted to sink my teeth into a longer book after reading so many short (&l
Jennifer (aka EM)
"The few words that I have to add to what I have written, are soon penned; then I, and the unknown friend to whom I write, will part for ever. Not without much dear remembrance on my side. Not without some, I hope, on his or hers." p.985

This is Dickens in 1853 writing to his reader through Esther as he brings to a close what I and just about everyone on my GR friends list acknowledge as Dickens' finest, most memorable novel.

Dang, but it holds up well – whether 160 years since publication or the
Aug 22, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it
Bleak House was Charles Dickens’ 1853 novel that documents the tragi-comic events surrounding the chancery court case of Jarndyce v Jarndyce.

Told with an unusual blend of shifting perspectives, the first being a first person narrative and the second an omniscient, present tense narrator, Dickens describes a London where justice is turned upside down and personal values are intertwined with the doleful legal system.

As with most of Dickens novels, Bleak House features an extraordinary cast and t
Dec 09, 2008 Manny rated it liked it

It was OK, but I'm afraid I just don't much enjoy Dickens. I know that's my problem. Maybe they'll invent a surgical procedure some time that will allow me to correct it.
Mar 09, 2015 Apatt rated it it was amazing
Bleak House the novel is – as you would expect – pretty bleak, but Bleak House the eponymous house in the book is one of the happier places to be found therein. In any case this being a Dickens novel you should not expect a wall to wall bleak fest. You would need to pop over to Hardyverse (also called Wessex) for those.

Bleak House is difficult to synopsize, it is about so many things and so many people. It has a very large cast of characters and a lot of intrigues. However, don’t let that put yo
May 08, 2013 Algernon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013

Overwhelmed is how I would describe myself when facing the task of reducing this monumental work to a couple of paragraphs for easy consumption on the internet. Dickens manages to capture the spirit of his times on a grand canvas, doing for English literature and early Victorian society what Hugo did for the French, Tolstoy for the Russians, Goethe for the Germans. The main difference I noticed, is that Dickens focus is not on great battles that changed the course of history or larger than life
helen the bookowl
After having read half of this book, I've decided to DNF it. I feel like it's a shame because it's a great classic and it's a lot of people's favourite book, but at the same time I didn't want to continue reading a book that I did not enjoy and that didn't inspire me to continue.
"Bleak House" introduces so many characters which frustrated me a lot. Once I thought I had some characters down and knew how they were, a bunch of others were introduced and not properly explained. The story is messy a
(4.5) This tome of a novel is by many regarded as Dickens’s finest novel, and I can see why. Like many of Dickens’s books, Bleak House is bursting with life and brimming with personalities. It is full of heart and humour – two of the traits that I appreciate most in books. Clever is good, too, but if a book doesn’t have a heart, it loses its point for me. Dickens’s books always have a big, beating heart, but are constructed (and written) cleverly, too. What I also value in books, and which Bleak ...more
Diamond Cowboy
Feb 16, 2016 Diamond Cowboy rated it it was amazing
I am a very big fan of Dickens. This is one of his best works in my opinion. If you have not ever read Dickens this would be a great place to start. I recommend this book to all.
I will give a full review at a later date.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Jan 02, 2009 Rashaan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
And Dickens created woman. Never breathed a more pure, more compassionate, more true soul than Dickens' take on the Platonic forms of Beauty and Good, our dear Miss Esther Summerson. So sweet, so kind, so generous and forgiving, our narrator and the main character of Dickens' magnus opus will make readers want to bop Chuck D on the head and rant "In the name of all women, what are you doing?". His idolization and idealization of the opposite and "fairer" sex will jostle readers and induce nausea ...more
Laurel Hicks
"Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven." Like Miss Flite's caged birds, they fly away and are gone, leaving room in the house for forgiveness, true charity, and love. I'm amazed at the way Dickens took so many themes and streams and wove them all together to form a satisfying conclusion in this long novel. He did an excellent job with his only female narrator, too.
Nov 20, 2014 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am guessing Esther is suppose to be Dickens' portrayal of perfect, Victorian femininity, but she is a bore most of the time. She has her moments though. Mannnn, why is everyone so lame towards Mr. Guppy? He is the Duckie of the 19th century. Lady Dedlock was my favorite character (besides Mr. Bucket), so I am not happy that she got the short end of the stick. Skimpole the f-ing man child (literally) gets off better than Lady Dedlock! I guess the fact that I am still passionate about these char ...more
Hear, children, I have pearls of wisdom to impart.
This is what happens when you read a book for 400+ days; this should pretty much illustrate what will be left of it:

Bleak House travelled to so many places with me. It knows the inside of my purse, backpack, coat pocket, library room, restroom, closet, glove even has the shape of my ass fully memorized since I sat on it so many times.
If only Bleak House could talk.

If it could talk it would complain, that much is certain. And it w
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Charles John Huffam Dickens (7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world's best-known fictional characters and is regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the twentieth century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and sho ...more
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“And I am bored to death with it. Bored to death with this place, bored to death with my life, bored to death with myself.” 142 likes
“LONDON. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snow-flakes — gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. Dogs, undistinguishable in mire. Horses, scarcely better; splashed to their very blinkers. Foot passengers, jostling one another’s umbrellas in a general infection of ill-temper, and losing their foot-hold at street-corners, where tens of thousands of other foot passengers have been slipping and sliding since the day broke (if the day ever broke), adding new deposits to the crust upon crust of mud, sticking at those points tenaciously to the pavement, and accumulating at compound interest.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

Gas looming through the fog in divers places in the streets, much as the sun may, from the spongey fields, be seen to loom by husbandman and ploughboy. Most of the shops lighted two hours before their time — as the gas seems to know, for it has a haggard and unwilling look.

The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln’s Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.”
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