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4.5 out of 5 stars55
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on February 21, 2016
Love this novel. Does not read like an eight hundred page book. Better than the revival of these types of overdone characters by writers like Franzen.
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on August 24, 2015
just awesome, and the kindle is the best thing to read dickens on
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on August 19, 2015
A tough read and I found the plot a bit convoluted.
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on October 15, 2014
I loved the book and would have given it five stars except that I bought the Kindle (Vintage) version which contains several distracting idiosyncrasies; chiefly, interspersed throughout the book are spaces, the letters BH as well as letters such as Aa, Bb etcetera. As I kept seeing these, it occurred to me that BH are a clerical staff's initials, the other letters having served as markers for BH, all of which would normally be deleted before publication but were not in the instant case. As well, the capital letter C in the novel is sometimes misprinted as a capital letter G, so one of the main characters Miss Ada Clare is sometimes Miss Glare.
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on March 24, 2014
I loved this book. I have read a few by Charles Dickens and this together with David Copperfield is my favorite.
The book is quite long but I like that because you really get to know the characters and once you get into it is hard to put down.
This book definitely made me want to read more of Dickens.
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on July 20, 2013
I loved Bleak House. This book keeps you thinking from one chapter to another and wondering what will become of the characters.
Again, a wonderful classic full of suspense.
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on June 28, 2013
I've only read 1/3 of the book so far, and unlike most of Dickens' books, the beginning is really BLEAK, and slow-moving.
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"Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." -- 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)

Bleak House is Dickens' most complete statement of the virtues of self-sacrificing love. I am very sorry that I waited so many years to listen to the uplifting reading of this outstanding book by David Case.

Lest you make the same mistake I did in putting off this joy, let me explain how I ended up deciding to avoid Bleak House for so many years. First, of course, there's that title. You have to admit that you probably don't get excited about learning about a bleak house. On this point, let me assure you that the literal bleak house in this book is anything but. Second, there's the book's opening and continuing theme about lives being destroyed by the evils of the Chancery court, most vividly expressed by the suit of Jarndyce and Jarndyce. One of my law professors read part of that opening on my first day of classes in graduate school, and it made me think that surely the rest of the book must be nearly as depressing and discouraging. Wrong again! There are some very commendable characters and actions in the book that would inspire anyone.

Bleak House essentially describes England from the perspective of Miss Esther Summerson beginning with her guardianship by one John Jarndyce, one of the affected parties in the Jarndyce and Jarndyce chancery case. As Dickens does in many of his best novels, these two characters provide the examples of right behavior that encourage the reader while advancing the plot. Throughout the story, you'll find more characters that will stick in your memory than I suspect you are used to finding in a single novel. In that sense, Bleak House is a bit like a movie with a cast filled with Academy Award winners.

In fact, while there are certainly many sad events in the book, I think you'll spend more time smiling than feeling sad.

Enjoy this amazing book!
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This truly was, and remains, a monumental task; both for the reader and the author. Charles Dickens, with his classical style of creating characters that literally jump off the page and into your psyche, outdid himself with this critically favored tale. For the reader the task is no less a challenge; a 1000+ page story that meanders from site to site, characters that slip in and out of the tale in a few pages to a plotline that is fully engrossing and universally symbolic of our past and present social ills.

The BBC presentation actually did some things better than even Mr. Dickens did himself. Esther, the protagonist of the tale, is depicted in a more highly realistic manner. She is a somber, less than educated survivor who, while welcoming the protection provided by Bleak House, does not extol on its every detail as done through the printed text. In the book, however, and because of the 1st person singular that is represented through Esther, her personality is portrayed as one of complete loving, caring and giving. While Dickens was attempting to establish the theme of 'universal goodness' he seemed to stretch the symbolic cord to its breaking point. Any person coming from a background similar to Esther's rearing by Miss Barbary would not be 'pure goodness' but would, at best, portray BBC's more cynical and realistic characterization of her. Harold Skimpole, likewise, was depicted in a more realistic manner in the filmed production. No, his characterization remains the same but the persons around him are less forgiving and accepting of his selfishness and irresponsibility as depicted by Mr. Dickens.

But, the remaining characters of the novel, without a doubt are some of the most colorful and unforgettable that the reader will ever encounter. Grandfather Smallweed, who has to be physically 'shaken up' periodically, is the greediest and most opportunistic of mankind. Mr. Snagsby tolerates more marital abuse than any character previously encountered. The Reverend Mr. Chadband portrays all of the repetitive liturgical nonsense the Dickens has railed about in other novels and Jo, the parentless child of the street, represents man's pathetic but inevitable inhumanity to even is most vulnerable.

My suggestion? Read the text and then view the BBC eight hour production. Knowing in advance the various twists and turns of the story, the televised characters can be fully appreciated for all their eccentricities and foibles............
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on February 26, 2012
A marking originality of this novel lies in the fact that there are two narrators who alternate every few chapters. One is omniscient and uses the present. The other is the main character, a young woman, who speaks in the first person in the past tense. The threads of each story only link towards the end of the novel.

This very particular arrangement is never explained (at least in the audio version. Is the girl's point of view published in order to defend the character of certain individuals? Is the traditional narrative inserted to present facts that she could not have known? Who then is in a position to be familiar with these elements and put them in writing?

As is frequent with Dickens' novels, a multitude of characters are included and, at times, sub-plots are quite difficult to follow. Some secondary characters simply disappear and their fate remains forever unknown.

The main plot rests upon a complex court case ... that is strangely never presented in any level of detail, as if the reader were incapable of understanding it.

Overall, it appears justified to consider this one of Dickens' best works, although of course by contemporary standards it appears very long. In that sense, an abridged version would definitely be recommended to anyone with limited time at his or her disposal.
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