Sunday, September 9, 2012

Review: Bleak House

Bleak HouseBleak House by Charles Dickens

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

"Nothing ever ends" is an important thematic stand of the novel, according to the introduction. This may just be how one feels when reading it. This novel was originally published in 19 monthly parts, from March 1852 through September 1853 (the last was a double issue), and Dickens was writing them as they came out (he finished the story in August 1853). I think I would have like the story more in that form which would have been more like watching a soap than like never-ending assigned reading.
Once I plowed through the first 300 pages or so the interconnectedness of the various characters and storylines started to become apparent and the book became more interesting after that. I liked the sections narrated by Esther better than the sections with the unknown 3rd person narrator, I can see the need for those sections though to illuminate what Esther tells us.
This novel takes a broad look at the society of the time (and is largely a condemnation of it). Characters represent types, and variations on those types are each shown with a character--numerous lawyers, for example, and orphans. I'm glad I finished it, because until you get to the very end the grand sweep of the work isn't really clear and Esther's story, as well as the legal case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, aren't resolved until the very end.

I read this book for 2 challenges: Tea and Books and What's in a Name 5.

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