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message 1: by Kristel (last edited Oct 09, 2017 05:03AM) (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3967 comments Mod
Bleak Houseby Charles Dickens was published in installments between March 1852 and September 1853. We will be reading it between October through December.
Our Reading schedule will be;
Introduction through chapter 35
Chapter 36 through 50
Chapter 51 to 67

Character list (major)
Esther Summerson: Well-liked, easygoing, level-headed young woman whose life is intertwined with the lives of the other characters. Believed to be an orphan, she is raised by her godmother. John Jarndyce, owner of Bleak House, takes her in to serve as a companion to another young woman (see Ada Clare, below), and Esther becomes Jarndyce's ward. She narrates part of the novel in first-person point of view.

Richard Carstone: Orphaned young man with an engaging manner who is a litigant in Jarndyce vs Jarndyce, a famous legal case that has languished in the courts for years. Because he is immature, he allows his headstrong passions to get the better of him. Expecting to receive a handsome settlement from Jarndyce vs Jarndyce, he neglects to establish himself in a respectable career and begins to suffer health problems as he awaits a settlement in the court case.

Ada Clare: Beautiful and sweet young woman who loves Richard Carstone. Like Richard, she is an orphan involved in Jarndyce vs Jarndyce. John Jarndyce: Owner of Bleak House and the guardian of Esther, Richard, and Ada. He is kindly, generous, and wise and does his best to look out for the interests of his wards.

Lady Dedlock: Wealthy aristocrat who harbors a scandalous secret–that she bore a child out of wedlock. She was told by her sister that the child was born dead. However, the child, Esther Summerson, is very much alive is is now a young lady. Although she is middle-aged, Lady Dedlock remains attractive, with an elegant figure. She enjoys all the amenities of a privileged woman, including the latest fashions, jewelry, attendance at the opera, and maids to fulfill her needs.

Sir Leicester Dedlock: Lady Dedlock’s doting husband, a baronet, who is 20 years older than she.

Tulkinghorn: Rapacious lawyer who seeks to benefit from others’ misfortune. He discovers Lady Dedlock's secret and seeks to capitalize on it.

Miss Barbary: Lady Dedlock's sister and godmother and guardian to Esther during the latter's childhood. Miss Barbary is severe and strict and goes to church three times every Sunday.
Jo: Sickly boy who earns a few coins by sweeping a path for pedestrians across dirty London streets. He has information crucial to many characters.

Krook: Owner of a rag-and-bottle shop that holds the key to Lady Dedlock’s secret. Krook deals in all types of objects. His collection of bottles alone includes, the narrator says, blacking bottles, medicine bottles, ginger-beer and soda-water bottles, pickle bottles, wine bottles, and ink bottles. In its disarray, the shop resembles the High Court of Chancery, which is nearby.

Captain Hawdon (Nemo):Lodger in a room above Krook's shop. Believed lost at sea, he is the linked to Lady Dedlock and Esther and befriends Jo. Hawdon uses an assumed name, Nemo.

Mr. Kenge: Solicitor for John Jarndyce. Kenge handles the legal affairs that enable Esther Summerson to stay at Bleak House as Jarndyce's ward.

Allan Woodcourt: Physician who loves Esther Summerson.

William Guppy: Law clerk who woos Esther Summerson and ferrets out information about Lady Dedlock’s secret.
Hortense: Lady Dedlock’s disgruntled maid.

Inspector Bucket: Detective who investigates a murder and reveals crucial information.

Mr. George: Former soldier who trains Richard Carstone after Richard considers pursuing a military career.

Mrs. Jellyby: Self-styled philanthropist who takes up the cause of African natives but neglects her own children and the condition of her home. Esther Summerson, Richard Carstone, and Ada Clare stay with her for an evening before traveling on to Bleak House.

Mr. Jellyby: Mrs. Jellyby's husband. He is a mere fixture in the Jellyby home, saying nothing and doing nothing.

Miss Flite: Eccentric woman who goes mad awaiting the outcome of a court case.

Mrs. Rachael: Servant to Miss Barbary. (Esther asks about her origins by she doesn't say anything.)
Miss Donny and Her Twin Sister, also Miss Donny: Maids at Greenleaf School, where Esther Summerson learns how to be a governess.

Mr. Snagsby: Law stationer (one who writes out legal documents). He provides Tulkinghorn information about Nemo (Captain Hawdon).

Mrs. Rouncewell: Elderly housekeeper at the Dedlocks' Lincolnshire home, Chesney Wold.

1. Are you reading, listening, both?
2. Did you read introduction, why or why not?
3. How was life different in 1853 compared with life today. Consider the
following: What was the food and drink like? Did people eat more or less than today? What types of transport did they use? What type of houses did they live in? How did they communicate over distances with each other? What did they do for entertainment? What type of work did they do?

message 2: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3967 comments Mod
Here are some things to consider when reading Bleak House. You can comment on these items here or during the various weeks ahead.
1. The Two Narratives of Bleak House
2. The World of Fashion Enclosed as the World of the Law
3. Dickens’s Characters: Caricature, The Grotesque, and Doubling
4. Images of Decay, Contagion, and Explosion
5. The Novel as Detective Story and Its Two Endings

message 3: by Melissa (new)

Melissa 1. So far I'm reading.... Right now I plan on continuing to read, but I've been known to switch midstream before or do a combination of both.

2. I did, I usually do, I like to see what background or set-up is included there.

3. I'll let you know as I read further....

message 4: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3967 comments Mod
Transportation; walking or carriage

Entertainment; piano playing

message 5: by Jamie (last edited Oct 14, 2017 02:16PM) (new)

Jamie Barringer (Ravenmount) (ravenmount) | 468 comments 1-2. I am reading, and my edition is the Project Gutenberg ebook, which has no page numbers, and no introduction. I usually save introductions for after I've read the book, as a general rule, so I can make my own judgments before reading what some pedantic literature professor says I ought to think or pay attention to.
3. Well, one thing that I'm keying in on is the extent to which women's rights have changed since 1853. In modern times I suspect that Mr. Skimpole's wife would have resorted to birth control or gotten a divorce long ago. That or Mr. Skimpole would be diagnosed with autism and he and his family would be getting disability benefits and welfare payments from the government. And if Esther was hired to be a companion to Ada, just handing her the housekeeping keys when she arrives at your house seems rather presumptuous.

message 6: by Pip (new)

Pip | 1361 comments I am reading on my Kindle from a Complete Works of Dickens, so I don't have an introduction and the page numbers refer to the whole volume so I don't have a clear idea of my progress. This frustrated me when reading The Idiot, too, because that was from The Complete Works of Dostoevsky, which was one reason I kept putting it aside, I think. Dickens, however, is much more readable and it will be a nice surprise when I finish (in time, I hope!)
In 1853 people communicated by letter, or by personal visits, with families having a designated At Home day when friends could call in. If you called on another day and no one was home you left a calling card to let them know you had visited. Food was bought from the market fresh each day; people used horse power, either riding or travelling by coach; entertainment was live concerts, plays, operas, or in one's own home people performed plays, read poetry, sang or played the piano. A lot of people were employed as domestic servants or to do with managing horses. There were factories with atrocious conditions and many worked as farm labourers. It was still considered unseemly for gentlemen to work, they were expected to live on their investments. Women oversaw the domestic work if they were rich and did it if they were not!

message 7: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I’m all caught up on my week 2 reading. And wow, only two weeks into a 3 month read-along plan and we are already at 24% finished! I’d be worried I picked up the wrong edition, but I got the unabridged kindle edition, so that should be right.....right? 🤔

message 8: by Kristel (new)

Kristel (kristelh) | 3967 comments Mod
Melissa wrote: "I’m all caught up on my week 2 reading. And wow, only two weeks into a 3 month read-along plan and we are already at 24% finished! I’d be worried I picked up the wrong edition, but I got the unabri..."
Yes, I am at 24% too, so we must be right.

message 9: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Kristel wrote: "Melissa wrote: "I’m all caught up on my week 2 reading. And wow, only two weeks into a 3 month read-along plan and we are already at 24% finished! I’d be worried I picked up the wrong edition, but ..."

Great! 👍

message 10: by John (new)

John Seymour I am just starting, but will try to add to the discussions as I catch up.

message 11: by Paula (new)

Paula S (paula_s) | 220 comments I just started reading the Project Gutenberg e-book. My edition had an introduction that I read, because I just can't skip any pages in a book (unless the introduction has spoilers, those I skip).

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