I wasn’t looking forward to reading the next novel by Charles Dickens on my list. Many people had told me that it was one of their favorites, but I wasn’t convinced. Bleak House is a massive tome that’s about a lawsuit in England’s Court of Chancery. I thought the novel would be tedious and filled with legal mumbo jumbo. I was wrong. One of my favorite aspects of Dickens’s writing is his characters. This novel is filled with a ton of them, and let me tell you folks, they are characters.
I apologize, but I do have to mention the case. Jarndyce v Jarndyce is a legal battle over an inheritance. The person made several conflicting wills. Dickens worked as a law clerk and saw firsthand the inefficiencies of the British judiciary system. Being Dickens, he decided to write a novel to highlight these absurdities. What I shouldn’t have doubted was that he’d make it entertaining.
I’m trying to decide how to summarize the novel, which is 723 pages, and has so many subplots that I’m sure I’ve already forgotten some. There are at least twenty main characters and twice as many minor characters. Again, my apologies, I’m not going to summarize it. What I will tell you is that this novel now ranks right with David Copperfield. When I finished David Copperfield I was convinced that he couldn’t top it. Bleak House didn’t surpass David Copperfield for me, but it is on par with it.
For those who feel like tackling this monster of a novel, I suggest reading it quickly or keeping a journal of the characters and events. Or I fear you might forget what has happened if you set it down for a few days or weeks.
This novel is on my 1001 books you must read before you die and it’s the fifth out of ten novels by Dickens that I’ve set out to read this year. This means I’m really behind on this project. I love Dickens, but did he have to write so many large novels.
One afternoon I sat by the Thames and read some of this book. Below you’ll find some of the photos.