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Bleak House

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  93,802 ratings  ·  4,102 reviews
Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these a ...more
Paperback, 1017 pages
Published January 6th 2006 by Penguin Books (first published 1853)
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Μαρία Γεωργίου The book is excellent and the bbc series 2005 is excellent too. I think that there at 80's another tv series of bleak house, i adore the book , iam fr…moreThe book is excellent and the bbc series 2005 is excellent too. I think that there at 80's another tv series of bleak house, i adore the book , iam from greece but i love charles Dickens very deeply (less)
Kyle A mini series based on this book?? How long of a binge will it take to watch that?! Assuming that John Jarndyce is at least a jolly performance as he …moreA mini series based on this book?? How long of a binge will it take to watch that?! Assuming that John Jarndyce is at least a jolly performance as he is in the book, so much of his character depends on how he hands off Esther to be married to someone else in the last few chapters. Still scratching my head over how she should have responded to this sudden switch.(less)
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Emily May
This is a very clever book because the main issue with it is exactly the point Dickens is making: it is so long and dragged out.

Bleak House is quite the achievement. It's a 900+ page monster made up a thousand different subplots with a large cast of characters. It also fanned the flames that led to a huge overhaul of the legal system in England. Buried beneath and entwined with the many subplots is the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce - Dickens's parody of the Chancery Court system (because the cas
Nov 23, 2007 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
Paul Bryant
Sep 27, 2007 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?
Henry Avila
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Is a lawsuit justice, when it goes on and on ....and on, seemingly in perpetuity ? In Bleak House located in the countryside outside of London, that is the center of the story, years pass too many to count, the lawyers are happy the employed judges likewise ; the litigants not... money is sucked dry from their vampires whose fangs are biting hard, the flesh weakens and the victims blood flows , ( cash ) evaporates and soon nothing is left but the corpses... the gorged lawyers are f ...more
Jan 07, 2012 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 charact
Bionic Jean
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
Nomen Est Omen, in the world according to Dickens!

But don’t take it literally, especially not when reading the title of Bleak House. For Dickens also requires you to read between the lines, and letters, just like in an acrostic poem:

Lovely characters
Elegant prose
Agonising cliffhangers
Knowledgeable descriptions

Humorous plot
Outrageous social conditions
Unusual dual narrative
Suits in Chancery
Everlasting favourite

Yes, Christmas is approaching, it’s Dickens time. I spent it in Chancery th

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
Adam Dalva
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Incredible - blows away any other Dickens that I have read (although it has been a couple of years). Now, there are issues with it: it FEELS long in a way that some great long books don't, which I think is due to the varying narrative stakes of the subplots; Esther Summerson, though delightfully written, is perhaps the most consistently GOOD character in the history of literature - you root for her but it is the rooting of a manipulated reader; and the absurdity of the coincidences is just downr ...more
Sep 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Here I am, after months I managed to finish this immense masterpiece, I say it immediately,it was very hard.... not for its length but for the complexity of the contents. I didn’t care to read the story lightly, just to understand the plot of this intricate narration... but within the limits of the possible and the time (little) available, I wanted to guess the thousand motivations that prompted Dickens to make talk and move his characters in this or other way.
The plot of the book revolves aroun
Not gonna lie – as I have struggled to read I am also struggling to find the word to write reviews. Sometimes I am having luck and writing some reviews I am pleased with, but mainly I am just delayed in finding the time and motivation to put my review on the page. For this I apologize as I love communicating with my Goodreads friend through reviews. I currently have three books I have finished – one over a week ago – that I have yet to write a review for. So, nothing like chipping away at them t ...more
Jan 26, 2013 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.

** - Many of you know that I am a Tennessee attorney and let me just say that 16
Aug 22, 2008 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 buil
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 legal cog wheel whose teeth catch up one smaller wheel after another. All of society seems to be caught up from the street sweeper to the noble Baronet in a single huge mechanism driven by avari ...more
I feel like the weather today in Belgium (it's dark and cold and snowy). I thought all Charles Dickens books where like this weather. I thought it met my feelings. But after reading I see this is not at all a dark and ' bleak' book. It's a book about human feelings, their interactions, about hope and tenderness, friendship, love. Of course there are some bleak components: people die, there's murder, poverty ... but there's a light of humanity beyond this all.

The underlying factor that binds all
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What attracted me to Bleak House was the Chancery Court suit of Jarndyce V Jarndyce. Having always an interest in stories with a legal touch to it, it was natural for me to be drawn to the book. Besides having learned that this book inspired a judicial reform movement which led to some actual legal reforms in later years and knowing Dickens satire and being curious to learn what was truly said in the story that inspired such movement, I was most interested in reading it.

True to my understan
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Apr 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
I have to say that Goodreads has opened me up to many books that I probably never would have read. Through groups and friends I keep finding books old and new to read and enjoy. Some more so than others.

When I started Bleak House in one of my groups reads I had a feeling that I wouldn't understand a lot of what was going on in the book. And I found out through the same group that there was a mini series about the book. I rushed right onto Amazon Prime and watched the whole thing. Let me tell you
Sep 01, 2008 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
Dec 02, 2008 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
Katie Lumsden
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book so much. An absolutely amazing read.
"Crust upon crust of mud..." and "Fog everywhere"

Though made a bit uneven by Dickens' use of two narrators, I think this is his best novel (with David Copperfield his best book). Esther Summerson, a sweet and modest orphan, tells her tale in the first person present, as Dickens used for David in Copperfield and Pip in Great Expectations; and, the other narrator is an omniscient, largely dispassionate third person.

The novel has mystery, romance, comic elements, an intriguing cast of characters a
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It always feels a bit presumptive when I am trying to review the masters of the novel, a Dickens, Hardy, or Eliot. What can someone like myself contribute, that might matter, to the appreciation of a masterpiece like Bleak House. And yet, I want to effuse about it, I want to praise it, I want to say how completely effective it is and how strangely relevant to our society if you merely put the characters in cars instead of horse-drawn conveyances. I want to tell everyone that within its pages you ...more
At the center of ‘Bleak House’ we have the Jarndyce and Jarndyce court case and supposedly, Dickens wrote this novel as a part commentary of the English justice system. I do not know, nor do I care a bit, about what he intended to achieve in terms of discussing the law and the government’s failure to deliver justice. What I was most engrossed with was the story. Because…wow.

What most amazes me is the detailing of the novel and how masterfully it is written. I am not a writer so I don’t know how
Jan 01, 2010 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 inno
Dave Russell
Mar 20, 2007 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
Roy Lotz
Call it by any name Your Highness will, attribute it to whom you will, or say it might have been prevented how you will, it is the same death eternally—inborn, inbred, engendered in the corrupted humours of the vicious body itself, and that only—Spontaneous Combustion, and none other of all the deaths that can be died.

For better or for worse, I read this novel through the lens of two critics: Harold Bloom and George Orwell.

In The Western Canon, Bloom calls Bleak House Dickens’s finest achi
As ever my review is going to be about the thoughts and feelings this book evoked in me and very little about the plot etc.
Having spent the first 28 days of the year thouroughly immersed in the world of Charles Dickens I want it to be known that I think he was, is and always will be the best teller of stories that ever lived. As well as creating some of the best characters, comical moments and intertwined narratives.

This story is told by 2 separate points of view. The first is an omniscient th
Megan Baxter
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I can't say that this is my favourite Dickens, and I found the first two hundred pages or so rocky going, with a few misunderstandings on my part that served to baffle rather than inform. But as the novel started to come together, and the disparate characters started to interact more strongly, I ended up very much liking it.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime,
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 Uly ...more
Paul E. Morph
‘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 (<
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Kindle Book Club ...: Discussion, Bleak House, Reading In Progress 6 13 Mar 30, 2019 07:50PM  

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Charles John Huffam Dickens was a writer and social critic who 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 short stories enjoy lasting popularity.


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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.” 175 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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