by Charles Dickens
first published 1853
Blackstone Audio, 2000
read by Robert Whitfield
32 hours 56 minutes
Motivation for reading:
Read-along hosted by Amanda, but I started late and never caught up.
Penguin Classics paperback purchased from B&N. Audio downloaded from audible.com.
In a nutshell:
Often referred to as Dickens' masterpiece, Bleak House features many characters and multiple plot lines, all connected to the interminable Jarndyce and Jarndyce court case. The novel truly defies summation.
Charles Dickens can spin a tale like no other ... and in today's world that may be a good thing. Bleak House is huge in scope and addresses nearly every aspect of life in Victorian England - from social class, the legal system, and politics, to love, marriage, and parenthood. Most 21st century readers are not willing to wade through 500 pages before plot lines begin to intersect. They won't wait 750 pages for that "can't put the book down" feeling. But those who do, will be rewarded.
Reading a Dickens novel is not a decision to be undertaken lightly. Patience, time, and perseverance are all prerequisites. Dickens is wordy. His prose is often described as 'flowery'. Somewhere around page 400, I wondered where Bleak House was going and whether I cared enough to find out. In the end, I trusted Dickens to make it worth my time and was not disappointed.
A note on the audio:
The original plan was to immerse myself in Bleak House by listening in the car and reading at home. As it turned out, the audio was so well done that I rarely picked up the book. Robert Whitfield's perfectly-paced narration and pleasing voice, which varied with the characters, resulted in a totally engaging audio experience.
When it's time for another Dickens novel, I will definitely seek out an audio version.
Bleak House was an enjoyable novel that provided a great sense of accomplishment upon completion, but I can only recommend it to die hard Dickens fans. Great Expectations is still my favorite Dickens novel.