Bleak House by Charles Dickens

78%

12 Critic Reviews

Bleak House is Dickens’ grandest, most virtuosic achievement, but with all that grandeur and virtuosity it still makes me cry...
-Time Magazine

Synopsis

Widely regarded as Dickens’s masterpiece, Bleak House centers on the generations-long lawsuit Jarndyce and Jarndyce, through which “whole families have inherited legendary hatreds.” Focusing on Esther Summerson, a ward of John Jarndyce, the novel traces Esther’s romantic coming-of-age and, in classic Dickensian style, the gradual revelation of long-buried secrets, all set against the foggy backdrop of the Court of Chancery. Mixing romance, mystery, comedy, and satire, Bleak House limns the suffering caused by the intricate inefficiency of the law.

 

About Charles Dickens

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Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was one of England's greatest writers. Best known for his classic serialized novels, such as "Oliver Twist", "A Tale of Two Cities", and "Great Expectations", Dickens wrote about the London he lived in, the conditions of the poor, and the growing tensions between the classes. He achieved critical and popular international success in his lifetime and was honored with burial in Westminster Abbey.
 
Published March 5, 1998 by OUP Oxford. 993 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, History, Humor & Entertainment, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Children's Books, Romance, Religion & Spirituality, Biographies & Memoirs, Crime, Action & Adventure, Travel, Arts & Photography. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Bleak House
All: 12 | Positive: 9 | Negative: 3

Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Colin Dexter on Aug 12 2014

It was, and is, the greatest novel of the lot. Why? First, the quality of the writing; second, the complexity of the plot; third, the extraordinary insight and honesty of the characterisation.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Sep 23 2011

...in Dickens's earlier novels the endless cameos tend to derail the narrative. Bleak House represents the author at a perfectly poised late-middle moment in his extraordinary art.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Sam Jordison on Feb 07 2012

In the end it doesn't greatly matter if Bleak House is modern, old-fashioned, sentimental or barbed. What matters is that it is a wonderful piece of storytelling. It's that which keeps us entranced 200 years after its author's birth.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kathryn Hughes on Sep 23 2011

Bleak House represents the author at a perfectly poised late-middle moment in his extraordinary art.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Anna Quindlen on Mar 13 2014

Bleak House is known as a novel about the law, but it is really about the sadness and the souls of two women, one who has sold her happiness for the sake of security, and one riven by the insecurity of not knowing who she is. That's why I love it so.

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The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Linda Grant on Oct 22 2011

Both authors have a whole society in their viewfinder. Did Dickens, the former hack, know what he was doing? Would he have understood Hillis Miller's introduction? I don't know. But the complex pleasures of 'Bleak House' go on and on revealing themselves.

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Time Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Radhika Jones on Feb 07 2012

Bleak House is Dickens’ grandest, most virtuosic achievement, but with all that grandeur and virtuosity it still makes me cry...

Read Full Review of Bleak House | See more reviews from Time Magazine

Inverarity is not a Scottish village

Above average
on Dec 05 2011

I haven't read a Dickens book yet that I didn't like, but although some people consider Bleak House his masterpiece, it's not my favorite. There were memorable characters, but I did not think they were as memorable (or as funny) as, say, Mr. Micawber, Uriah Heep and Betsey Trotwood...

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Literate Housewife

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer on Jan 30 2013

I can think of none other than Dickens for lively, full-bodied characters and a strong sense of place. Bleak House, despite the sections taking direct aim at the Chancery, was a delight.

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Rebecca Reads

Above average
Reviewed by Rebecca Reid on Jan 19 2012

In short, although it took 300-400 pages to feel a little less confused about these characters, by the end of the 1000 pages, I felt like they were people I’ll never forget “meeting.”

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She Reads Novels

Below average
Reviewed by Helen on Nov 02 2010

Bleak House has everything I would normally love in a book: an intricate plot, secrets and revelations, humour, a mystery, unusual characters. Unfortunately there was something about the book that didn’t quite work for me...

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Bookworm1858

Above average
Reviewed by The Insouciant Sophisticate on Oct 28 2010

...I did not love this book although I wanted to. Dickens just writes such long sentences and stuffs so much unnecessary information in there; he really wrote for his time which had a different attention span and different expectations of their authors than this time.

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Reader Rating for Bleak House
85%

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Michael Manley 20 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

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Malinda Charter 27 Jan 2014

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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Liked the book

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