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Synopsis

Bleak House is long, tightly plotted, wonderfully descriptive, and full of memorable characters. Dickens has written a vast story centered on the Jarndyce inheritance, and masterly manages the switches between third person omniscient narrator and first person limited narrator.

In this book a poor boy (Jo) will be literally chased from places of refuge and thus provide Dickens with one of his most powerful ways to indict a system that was particularly cruel to children. Mr. Skimpole, pretending not to be interested in money; Mr. Jarndyce, generous and good; Richard, stupid and blind; the memorable Dedlocks, and My Lady Dedlocks secret being uncovered by the sinister Mr. Tulkinghorn; Mrs. Jellyby and her telescopic philanthropy; the Ironmaster described in Chapter 28, presenting quite a different view of industralization than that shown by Dickens in his next work, Hard Times.

Here is a veritable cosmos of people, neighbors, friends, enemies, lovers, rivals, sinners, and saints, and Dickens proves himself a true master at describing their lives and the environment they dwell in. There are landmark chapters: Chapter One must be the best description of a dismal city under attack by dismal weather and tightly tied by perfectly dismal laws, where the Lord Chancellor sits eternally in Lincolns Inn Hall. Chapter 32 has one of the eeriest scenes ever written, with suspicious smoke, greasy and reeking, as a prelude to a grisly discovery. Chapter 47 is when Jo cannot move along anymore.

Bleak House is a long, complex novel that opens a window for us to another world. It is never boring and, appearances to the contrary, is not bleak. Enjoy.

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