Thursday, August 26, 2010

Bleak House Read Along Thoughts: Week One

Amanda, our fearless host for this read along, is encouraging us to post our thoughts on a weekly basis. (Here's her summary and thoughts so far.) I really like this idea, as it gives us mini deadlines and for me, I hope, it will help to keep me going strong through this massive book. Hopefully you, my readers, will find these regular updates fun and not overly boring. I will keep them short and sweet and in the end, perhaps you'll want to read the book too someday!

This week's assignment was to read through chapter seven, which in my book (Penguin Classics illustrated edition) was to page114. My initial reaction to the first couple of chapters was, oh dear. I didn't understand much and I could tell I would be needing to find the "Dickens groove" quickly or this would be one long book! I understood simply that there was a court case that had been in the works for years and years and that no one really saw the end to this thing ever happening. We didn't get much of a clue as to what the case entailed, but that it was just part of the court tradition to hear it every day.

But, once we were introduced to a character named Esther, I was much happier. She reminded me of Jane Eyre as she gave us her quick background. She meet up with a couple of other teenagers who were also wards of a dude named John Jarndyce (who is also somehow connected to the never ending case). As they were all being transported to his house (called Bleak House) they stopped over at the abode of the Jellyby's. And what a place that was! Loved the crazy descriptions of a household gone wild! Sounded a bit familiar actually! (Oh man, I really hope not!) Anyway, I totally enjoyed those chapters.

Then we meet a couple of other guys, both who seem not very nice. And then the last chapter, yet more characters are introduced. A housekeeper, her grandson, a maid and some lawyers looking to rent some rooms there, I'm thinking.

As all Dickens books are, it seems a bit mind boggling at first, but I know from past experiences, that if I just hang in there, all these characters and stories will somehow come together and soon, I imagine it to be soap opera-ish romp!

Bottom line thought so far: I'm liking it though it's a bit confusing.

Read along participants: What do you think so far?


  1. So, interesting tidbit that I didn't realize until I read the SparkNotes summaries (yes, I cheated after I was still confused 13 chapters in). The housekeeper and such in Chapter 7? That's the same house described in Chapter 2! I had no idea! That's apparently one of the reoccuring storylines.

    Other tidbit that another reader mentioned. Apparently Dickens meant for Esther to be a counter to Jane Eyre. Dickens didn't approve of Jane, thought she had too much of an attitude and was too ungrateful to her adoptive parents. Interesting that you saw a connection! They were meant to be quite alike in background, though not in personality. I didn't catch that at all!

  2. Getting to know these characters will be fun. Wasn't the Jellyby's house wild?? Poor Peepy! I'm combining the book with the audio, and really enjoying it so far.

  3. I totally thought that Esther was Jane Eyre-ish too! Apparently, Dickens meant us to compare them. Interesting. I thought he was making a statement with the Jellyby's too. About working women perhaps? I'm also looking forward to the end of the setup completed and the beginning of the action.

  4. The Jarndyce case is about a guy (a Jarndyce, years ago) who made a lot of money, and also a lot of different wills. After he died it was so confusing that nobody could figure out who should get the money and it's been languishing in court for years, and generations of people have been potential heirs, only to die waiting. The Mr. Jarndyce in the story might get something, also Ada, Richard, Miss Flite, and Lady Dedlock. Mr. John Jarndyce's uncle killed himself in frustration over the lawsuit.



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