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Archived Group Reads 2012 > Bleak House Chapters 14~17

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Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Published in July 1862
For discussion of these chapters


message 2: by Alice (new)

Alice (alicelevene) Okay, so who else is thinking Mrs Dedlock is Esther's mother? The way Guppy looked at the picture of her and then stared at Esther. I think he saw a connection. The only flaw I see in my guess, is that Lawrence didn't bring up the resemblance when he met Esther. But I still have a gut feeling...

Also, that 'child' guy is getting on my nerves a lot!


message 3: by Valetta (new)

Valetta | 27 comments Alice wrote: "Okay, so who else is thinking Mrs Dedlock is Esther's mother? The way Guppy looked at the picture of her and then stared at Esther. I think he saw a connection."

Me too, me too! I've just written the same thing in the discussion about chap. 11-13. I think we are on the right track :D

What about Caddy's engagement? To me it was totally unexpected, I'm happy she has decided to take control of her life but I don't have a good feeling about her attachment to Mr Turveydrop with that father of his controlling his life.

Alice wrote: "Also, that 'child' guy is getting on my nerves a lot! "

Do you mean Skimpole? I don't like him very much too. And to be honest I don't think he deserves Mr. Jarndyce help at all.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) What about the two Turveydrops? Mr T and his deportment is quite something and now Miss Jellyby is in love with the younger Mt T. I feel we will be hearing more of them.

In chapter 15, we meet those poor children. How pathetic those children are and yet there are people who do try and care for them in their own slight ways. What a contrast between the Jellybys of the world and those who do good so quietly for others. Dickens seems to draw a sharp contrast between the children and the adults of Bleak House. In a way, those who now say take care of our own first, before you go out and help others of the world, might find Dickens as a person who agreed with them.

It seems like there are lots of secrets floating around and everyone seems to have at least one, even Esther with her dark complexioned young doctor.

...any bets that the strange woman seeking out Jo's help is Lady Dedlock?


message 5: by Katie (last edited Nov 27, 2011 06:11AM) (new)

Katie (katies_books) | 21 comments I think Caddy will be in good hands with the younger Mr. Turveydrop. He's a hardworking, responsible guy and it looks like he genuinely cares for her.

I was really touched by gruff Mr. Gridley and the way he cares for Charley and her siblings. Also, I'm really enjoying Jo's character. But Mr. Skimpole, I agree, is getting more and more annoying.

I am about 99% sure now that Esther is Lady Dedlock's daughter, and about 75% sure that Nemo was Esther's father. Now the fun of unravelling the circumstances begins! How did the parents meet? What drove them apart? Why was Nemo living under an assumed name?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Katie, I think you are right about Lay D, but did not even think about Nemo being the father of Esther... wow! that would make sense.

I read something from The Friendly Dickens last night with said that this book is Dickens' most confusing because there are two main protagonists( I think we have only met one so far...Esther) and stories within stories. It was not received well at all by the critics of the time.


message 7: by Katie (last edited Nov 27, 2011 06:38AM) (new)

Katie (katies_books) | 21 comments Marialyce wrote: It was not received well at all by the critics of the time.

Really! That is so interesting because I am enjoying how Dickens tells the story from multiple points of view. He's making us piece together the story for ourselves, based on the evidence we get from each character. It makes it more challenging, but also a lot more fun.

Edited to add: The Friendly Dickens looks really interesting! Amazon says it's out of print so I'll have to check the library.


message 8: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Nov 27, 2011 07:11AM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Katie,, If you don't mind a used copy I just checked betterworldbooks.com and they have a copy for $3.98, no tax and free shipping. I have used them before and think they are great!


message 9: by Lori (new)

Lori Baldi I'm picking away at this book very slowly but find that I'm at this spot with others. Fun to finally be reading a group read at the same time as others. But I've been at it for months & months. I put it down and move onto other books but today I've started on Jo's shenanigans with the mystery lady or servant as she likes to be called. I won't give any secrets away since I've seen the movie on Masterpiece Theatre but it only makes the mysteries more fun. I've had trouble with the term "follower" that was the profession of the father of the 3 urchins, Charlie, Tom & the baby. This profession is very unsavory and almost got the family evicted from their lodgings before the father even died. What is it? I also didn't recall the way the father was acquainted with the guy who brought Jarndyce & his group to meet the urchins.


message 10: by Bea (new)

Bea | 233 comments A "follower" was a debt collector. Near the beginning of the novel, "Covinses", the father, comes to Bleak House to collect a debt owed by Skimpole. Esther and Richard pay off the debt. Skimpole later happens to mention to Jarndyce and the others that "Covinses" has died.


message 11: by Valetta (new)

Valetta | 27 comments Marialyce wrote: "I read something from The Friendly Dickens last night with said that this book is Dickens' most confusing because there are two main protagonists( I think we have only met one so far...Esther) and stories within stories. "

Maybe the second protagonist is Lady Dedlock? Anyway I don't find the multiple POV confusing, on the contrary it makes the book even more engaging!


message 12: by Lori (new)

Lori Baldi Ok, I remember now this guy Covinses. A weird name among many odd names! I am surprised that a debt collector was such an unsavory occupation. Maybe it was a job with unregular wages? Working hard 1 week and 3 weeks of no income?


message 13: by Bea (new)

Bea | 233 comments Covinses was poor and living with poor people, who probably had good reasons for disliking and distrusting debt collectors.


message 14: by Sherin (new)

Sherin Punnilath (shery_7) | 10 comments Still that's a little strange. Remember,the landlady informs Mr.Jarndyce of her tenants' initial refusal to accommodate Mr.Covinses in that area.

Isn't it similar to despising a police man for enforcing the law?


message 15: by Sherin (last edited Nov 29, 2011 01:19AM) (new)

Sherin Punnilath (shery_7) | 10 comments Lori wrote: " A weird name among many odd names!

I agree!
There are quite a lot of odd names in this book.


message 16: by Valetta (new)

Valetta | 27 comments Sherin wrote: "Isn't it similar to despising a police man for enforcing the law? "

Well, yes, but generally criminals despise police men for enforcing the law, in the same way very poor people who are forced to contract many debts in order to survive will not be favourably disposed towards a debt collector. (I'm not saying poors are criminals, just using the police man example... )


message 17: by Kyle (new)

Kyle (kansaskyle) As Jo might say, "I no nothink" about what a follerer was in those days. I kind of figured it was a dialect thing and meant follower, but that didn't help. Fortunately, I found several references to it with a Google search, and Bea posted about here also.

The disdain for debt collectors might be a "kill the messenger" kind of thing, or the anger people display at people in the repossession business.

I believe the lending practices in Victorian England were setup to take advantage of the poor with high interest rates. A debt collector could be prying the last bits of money or possession out of people, which meant they might go hungry and only be a step away from prison or a work house.


message 18: by Bea (new)

Bea | 233 comments Kyle is right. When Esther asked Coavinces what would happen if Skimpole didn't pay, he said it would be "jail or Coavinces", adding that Coavinces was a "'ouse" = workhouse.

Coavinces was just enforcing the law. In the case of Skimpole, who was living way beyond his means, some consequences may have been educational. Poor people in debt on account of sudden adversity (illness, unemployment, etc.) could suffer terribly.


message 19: by Greg (new)

Greg | 16 comments Jo and the mystery chapter are truly a mystery to me. Who was the servant - Rosa?


message 20: by Bea (new)

Bea | 233 comments A real mystery, indeed. Stick with it and you will probably have a good idea about who the servant was pretty soon.


message 21: by Deedee (new)

Deedee | 34 comments Marjorie wrote: "I believe the lending practices in Victorian England were setup to take advantage of the poor with high interest rates. A debt collector could be prying the last bits of money or possession out of ..."

Thanks for the explanation about "sponging houses", I hadn't read about that before.


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