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  • Bleak House

  • By: Charles Dickens
  • Narrated by: Hugh Dickson
  • Length: 37 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (381 ratings)

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Summary

The case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce has ground its way through the courts for generations. At its heart are Ada Clare and Richard Carstone, who find love - and terrible loss - through their involvement in the endless battle.

Meanwhile, her friend Esther Summeson, who believes she is an orphan, gradually discovers the truth of her identity. The court case throws out a web ensnaring all who come near it, including Lady Dedlock, the menacing lawyer Tulkingham, detective Bucket and tragic little waif Jo.

Secrets emerge, crimes are committed and love affairs bloom. But will anyone ever benefit from the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce?

©2008 BBC Audiobooks Ltd (P)2014 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about Bleak House

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Bleak House far from bleak

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is beautifully read and I would love to hear more books by this narrator. The story is long and very convoluted, but Dickens has such a wry sense of humour and the subject matter is still so pertinent that it is well worth investing the time.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Really worth it!

A fantastic book to listen to. The narrator is amazing and his range of voices made the listen even more enjoyable.

There is both sadness and joy in this book and story lines that keep you gripped. Although it is very long it really is worth it!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Sheer enjoyment

This a beautiful book - Dickens at his wittiest and most ironic. The narrator Hugh Dickson is brilliant and the book came alive with his acutely drawn characterisations. Some of the descriptive passages came close to poetry in his interpretation.

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Superbly characterised and read.

This is a long book 37 hours in all but I have read it while driving to work over the last month and have found myself at times sitting in the driveway having got home and not wanting to leave the car until I found out the next little snippet.
The book is really well written with plenty of little twists and turns to keep you guessing and the characters are brilliantly dramatized by Hugh.
If long stories are your bag and you like stories of a dickens style then I couldn't not recommend this highly enough.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A genuine gem

A brilliant novel brought to life with astonishing vividness and humour by Hugh Dickson. I cannot recommend this audiobook highly enough.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very well written, very well read.

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; ...

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Bleak House opens with the above paragraph, one of the most beautiful passages in all of Dickens. Give yourself a treat and click the sample on Hugh Dickson's reading of this classic which includes the above.

Mr Dickson's diction (ho) is perfect. His narration is a joy, his voicing of the characters is a top quality piece of acting, and makes the production feel more a play than a book. Of course Dickens deserves some credit along the way but Mr Dickson's rendering of Jo - 'I don't know nothink about nothink at all' - is comic genius. Ditto his voicing of George, Grandfather Smallweed, and one of Dickens' most under-appreciated comic characters, the tenacious Inspector Bucket of The Detective. There is some real acting going on here.

The book, regarded as one of Dickens finest, does not need much in the way of critiquing from me. A full-frontal assault on The Chancery, numerous plots and subplots, wrapped up with Dickens usual melange of characters vile, humorous, decent, bathetic, pathetic, impoverished, grand, (and the not so grand), devilish and angelic.

The highlight for me - the last page of chapter 47 (no spoilers here) beautifully written, and beautifully read.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

A Great Listen

Even (make it specially) if you've read this a few times, it's worth listening to this version. Hugh Dickson does an amazing job.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Very disappointed

I have downloaded several classic audiobooks but this is my least favourite. I loved the BBC film version so I was keen to buy it. But there are WAY too many characters for just one reader. The male reader made most characters sound like caricatures. Considering that Esther is one of the main characters, there really should have been a female reader too.
The audiobook is very long and does not leave out any of the less important side stories, usually I like that but due to the large amount of characters, the book felt disjointed and outright boring at times. I listened for about 9h and than gave up.
I probably would have enjoyed a shortened version more.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

An enchanting audio experience

This is a superb reading by Hugh Dickson. The character portrayal is staggeringly good, the dramatic passages are full of excitement and the emotion is sensitively expressed. I cannot praise this reading highly enough. It should not be missed.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Pity about the narrator

Couldn't finish this. I have enjoyed many of Dickens' books and looked forward to hearing this. Sadly I was so irritated by the reading, especially of the voice of Esther, that I have given up. I think I will try the page instead!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Deborah
  • 31-12-09

A story that stands the test of time beautifully read

One of Dickens's best novels - so timely and timeless both. The narrator is superb. Each character - and there are dozens of them - distinctly rendered in accent and tone. I was sorry to leave these wonderful characters.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • John
  • 19-07-09

Audio Theater

The book is a classic and Hugh Dickson does a wonderful job of it. I have not heard the others, but Hugh does not disappoint and its enjoyable the whole way through. It's a long journey, so choose wisely.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Corinne
  • 16-08-10

Brilliant

This book is brilliantly written. I can see why some say its Dickens best. Truly a masterpiece.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • J. Everett
  • 02-05-12

Satirical, poignant, Dickens at his best!

I had low expectations of this book and was admittedly daunted by its size. Let me now say, it could be my favorite Dickens novel -- and it was worth every minute I invested in listening to it. The narrator was simply outstanding and the novel was absolutely brimming over with plot -- suspense, murder, mystery, romance, love, devotion, death, tragedy, treachery, humor, and of course, biting satire. There were scenes that made me laugh out loud and scenes that actually made me cry. There were countless unforgettable characters and some of the most touching relationships and dialogue I have ever read. For anyone who loves Dickens, this is vintage -- and the narration was simply perfect. Highly recommended!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • JDS
  • 18-07-10

Can't go wrong

This reader brings the myriad characters/narrators in Bleak House to life. His rendering of their distinctive accents and intonations helps the listener follow the book's twists and turns of structure and plot.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Scott B
  • 03-03-10

Variable sound level

From screaming lines to whispers. Volume leveling would have worked wonders to help the listener through the book. Good book and reader was good at acting each part but could not understand some words due to volume levels. I have the enhanced audio version so quality was highest.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Wulf
  • 02-02-10

five stars for Hugh Dickson's narration

Hugh Dickson's voice is so versatile. How he keeps the voice of each character, including every minor character straight is miracle. But each character shines through uniquely...

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shaydofgry
  • 26-06-09

Excellent narration

Hugh Dickson does a fabulous job narrating this Dickens classic. Although I've read the book before, I picked up some additional nuances when listening to this audio version.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • PCL
  • 17-09-10

Enthralled

I've only listened to seven hours and I am so in awe of Hugh Dickson. Years ago I took a course on Dickens novels and I wish I had had this resource at that time. Amazing narrator!!!!!!!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Shari
  • 09-04-10

My first Dickens experience

This was my first Dickens book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The reader was excellent, and did a great job differentiating between characters. What a great way to make a long commute enjoyable.

5 people found this helpful