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Monday, November 14, 2016

#72 - Bleak House - Charles Dickens

Title:  Bleak House
Author:   Charles Dickens
Read by: David Case
Illustrations by:  Phiz
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  B
Published:  originally - 1852
Dates:  10/11/16 – 11/14/16
CDs/Hours: 31/39.5

Hailed more for being his best novel, not his best book, Bleak House represents Dickens’ highest point of his intellectual maturity.  So says G. K. Chesterton in his introduction to the story from the Everyman’s edition.
While very long, drawn out and including characters and situations not germane to the book, Dickens will delight readers who love tomes of this length.  Before the story was complete, Dickens serialized it over a period of 19 months from March 1852 to September 1853.  Along with his readers who wanted to know what came next, Dickens, too, wrote by the “seat of his pants” so to speak, as he met each deadline!
The story is brilliant when you consider it’s a love story, a murder mystery and a comedy of sorts and very much about social criticism.   The subordinate characters are as outrageous as other main characters are sublime.   Esther Summerson, in part, narrates.  We find her as a young girl living with her aunt, though she doesn’t know at the time it is her aunt.  Before she’s very old off to Bleak House she goes, along with Richard Carstone and Ada Clare – all wards of Mr. Jarndyce.  Despite its’ bleakness it has a happy ending.  And Bleak House isn’t bleak at all but a haven for the three young people that Jarndyce enfolds into his care.
The pen and ink drawings by Phiz are delightful.  I also checked out both the Everyman’s Library publication and Penguin Classics – each with their own notes and summaries of Dickens and his masterpiece.

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