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Summary

First published in monthly parts from March 1852 to September 1853, this novel follows the fortunes of three pedestrian characters - Esther Summerson, Ada Clare and Richard Carstone. The story they tell embodies Dickens' merciless indictment of the Court of Chancery and its bungling, morally corrupt handling of the endless case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, giving the novel its scope and meaning.

Starting with Esther's account of her lonely, unhappy childhood, her role as protégée of the worthy John Jarndyce, Richard and Ada's guardian, the tale develops the relations between the three young people in the Jarndyce household. Numerous other characters contribute to the complex portrait of society which emerges from the novel. They include the romantic, effusive and unworldly Harold Skimpole (based on Leigh Hunt, poet, journalist, and critic, who published The Examiner in which he introduced the public to Keats and Shelley); the boisterous, short-tempered Boythorn (based on Walter Savage Landor, poet and essayist, mentor to Robert Browning); Krook, the rag-and-bottle shopkeeper who dies a hideous death by 'spontaneous combustion'; Gridley and the crazed Miss Flite, both ruined by Chancery; Mrs. Jellyby, neglectful of domestic responsibilities in favor of 'telescope philanthropy'; the greasy Mr. Chadband, a parson 'of no particular denomination'; and Conversation Kenge and Mr. Vholes, lawyers both.

Of particular importance to the moral design of the novel is Jo, the crossing-sweeper whose brutish life and death are the instruments for one of Dickens' most savage judgments on an indifferent society.

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(P)1998 by Blackstone Audiobooks

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • Doncaster, United Kingdom
  • 21-11-05

Dickens at his best

5 stars for this second part because the sound quality is better.
'Read' it to see what the BBC leaves out - the richness of Dickens's humour, his passion for the wrongs of Victorian society.
Robert Whitfield's characterisation continues to be superb.
One of the great reads.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • UU Ma
  • 08-01-03

Amazingly engaging

You'd think that with the title Bleak House it would be deadly. Actually it has an engaging story, plus fascinating insights into the legal "system" of 19th century England. As always, Robert Whitfield does a great job of reading. Giving different voices to different characters in such a complicated book helps the reader keep them all straight.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anna
  • 21-01-04

Awesome!

I love the classics and this is definately one of those. I was in love or in hate with all the characters by the end of the first CD and I couldn't wait to get back to my car and listen to it some more through the whole book!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jed
  • 08-06-09

bleak house

I have read most of Dickens' works, but I could never quite get myself to read Bleak House. I was finally able to appreciate this great work by listening to it. This was an excellent example of the importance of audio books.