It took a long time, but I finally finished this! Some books are just like that - read them little by little until you wonder if you have ever had anything else on the bedside table. But it actually makes sense for Pickwick - since it was written as a serial in papers originally, it is meant to be digested slowly, over a long time.
The stories themselves are good, though not particularly compelling - even for this devotee of regency era literature. It is the characters that draw the mind back to the book, the wondering of what new illumination will be given in the form of a Wellerism. ((Sam Weller is undoubtably my pick for the best character in the book.))
Anyone wanting to just get a little Dickens on their 'read' shelf would probably do better with David Copperfield or Great Expectations to get a good sense of his style. But Pickwick is so very Dickens - the lavish language, the classic scenes - that even reading a few chapters would be good for the mind. I am personally very glad that I took the time to add this to my list of classics completed.