Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Review: Bleak House by Charles Dickens

Book: Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Genre: Classic
Rating: B+
For: Classics Challenge and Read Along
From: Bought it years ago

On the off chance that there's someone who wants to read my final thoughts on Bleak House, here they are:

I don't know! :)

This reading experience reminded me a little bit of the time I was in 8th grade and for some reason decided that I would read Great Expectations for my 10 minute beginning-of-class-silent-reading book. I still have the little notes that we had to write down every day after reading to report what we read and it amazes me that I came up with something to report because all I remember was being in a huge daze and fog. I remember something about an old lady, a rotten cake, a boy named Pip and girl that was awfully mean to him.

Of course, I've read it again since then and it's now one of my all time favorites!

Bleak House was like this experience in the sense that I felt like I was in a fog for much of the time. There were many chapters that I just didn't get and wondered what they had to do with anything. However, there were many chapters that I loved and thought were very interesting and intriguing. My guess is that upon a re-read, I'd "get" so much more.

To help me understand things, I checked out the BBC series from the library and watched along with my final few pages of reading. There were lots of moments where I thought, "Wait? When did THAT happen?" or "Oh boy, I must have missed that part entirely!" Too funny. And of course I really really enjoyed the movie, and in fact, got much more emotionally involved and found myself quite weepy several times.

Oh wait? Would you like a summary of this book? Let me try.

So there's this case being heard in court that's gone on and on. It's because they don't quite understand who the dead dude wanted to name as beneficiaries of his will, or actually he had too many wills. It was all very confusing. But anyway, two of the main characters, a boy and girl who are cousins, are hoping that the court will rule in their favor. In fact, the boy becomes obsessed with this idea, much to the sadness of his guardian uncle, and many other people involved.

Meanwhile, their friend who shares their uncle as her guardian, learns about her parentage, which is quite a surprising shock to her and to her mother who thought she was dead from birth. Despite this, she is a stalwart girl and ends up being the glue that holds everyone together. Her mother, however, falls apart.

Mixed up in all of this, we have several deaths, several love stories, several bad schemes, and many secrets. And tons and tons of characters. They were overwhelming at first, but in the end, I found them all quite interesting, and it was fun to see how my feelings for them changed drastically over the course of the book...and perhaps also influenced by the movie.

All that makes for quite a good story, if you can understand it! Mostly, I just think I was rusty on my Dickens and seriously shouldn't let such a long time go by again before reading another one!

Bottom line: I enjoyed.... most of it!

Other reviews:

Age 30+... a Lifetime of Books
To Read or Not To Read
Books and Chocolate
The Zen Leaf

I may have posted this trailer already, but in case I didn't, or in case you missed it the first time, here it is:


  1. This is one of our favorite Dicken’s novels. The characters are what make it so great. We absolutely loved John Jarndyce and Harold Skimpole is so horrible. Great book!

  2. I had a similar experience as you with Great Expectations. I love it now. I read Bleak House a year or so ago, and had such high expectations but it wasn't a favorite. I think it helped that I had seen the miniseries before I read it.

  3. Glad to hear the mini-series helped! It definitely helped me to shape the book in my mind after I finished reading it!

  4. Oh my. This book... I tried to read it before I watched the BBC series, got about 150 pages in, and gave up. I thought since I'd read and liked A Tale of Two Cities in high school I could handle this. Was I wrong. Maybe I'll try it again someday? I think I have less patience now though. Finally watched the BBC version, which I did like. Prefer Jane Austen/Bronte adaptations of course though. ;) Glad you made it through it. That's a real accomplishment IMO.

  5. Glad you made it through the book, and that ultimately, you did like it -- it's one of my favorites since I fell in love with the BBC series. I've read several of his works now and I think it's by far the best. However, I'm going to have to go back and reread Great Expectations -- can't remember a thing about any rotten cake.

  6. I'm SO glad to find someone else who actually likes this book! And I think you did a fantastic job summarizing the story too.

  7. Suey, I thought you should know - I got a spam comment on my blog this morning that was a link-back from a website. I checked it out to see if it was spam, and it was your review copied and pasted directly into another site, without any credit to you at all. Here's the website in case you want to investigate:

    I just figured I should let you know.

  8. You are just TOO adorable. I enjoyed Bleak House and am half way thru the BBC miniseries which is AWESOME prolly cuz I read the book. I came here to comment after seeing yours on Trish (lovelaughterinsanity) post abt the book and had to come see what you posted! Happy New Year!



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