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Bleak House | [Charles Dickens]

Bleak House

In its oppressive atmosphere of fog, mist, and mud, nothing conjures up the dreary days of November and its "implacable" weather like the celebrated opening of Bleak House. The plot concerns a long-running legal dispute (Jarndyce and Jarndyce) that has far-reaching consequences for all involved. Dickens' assault on the flaws of the British judiciary system is based in part on his own experiences as a law clerk.
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Publisher's Summary

In its oppressive atmosphere of fog, mist, and mud, nothing conjures up the dreary days of November and its "implacable" weather like the celebrated opening of Bleak House. The plot concerns a long-running legal dispute (Jarndyce and Jarndyce) that has far-reaching consequences for all involved. Dickens' assault on the flaws of the British judiciary system is based in part on his own experiences as a law clerk. His harsh characterization of the slow, arcane Chancery law process gave voice to widespread frustration with the system, helping to set the stage for its eventual reform in the 1870s.

This novel represents the highest point of Dickens' intellectual maturity. Over the years, it has been one of his most popular books, and it was recently turned into a PBS film starring Gillian Anderson.

© & (P)1987 Jimcin Recordings

What the Critics Say

"Vigorous satire....[with] a host of interesting minor characters." (The Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.3 (20 )
5 star
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3.3 (4 )
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3.2 (5 )
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  •  
    Jas Portsmouth, RI, USA 04-24-06
    Jas Portsmouth, RI, USA 04-24-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Listen to the sample first"

    From the reviews so far, it looks like this book will be one of those that could generate sharply divided opinions. Few would disagree that it's a great book but some are going to like the reading and some are not. I suppose it's just a matter of taste. My advice - Listen to the sample BEFORE you download the book. Fortunateley, the sample is 10 minutes long - more than enough to let you know if you will enjoy it or not. I listened to the sample and liked what I heard, then got the book and liked it very much. The time to find out if you will like the reading is before you get the book not after. So...my words to the wise are...Don't take my word for it or anyone else's. Let your own ears decide. If you are considering this book, listen to the sample first.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Newport Portsmouth, RI, USA 06-06-06
    Newport Portsmouth, RI, USA 06-06-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Listen"

    Bleak House is a satire which looks at the extremely complicated legal system in London as it eats away at the minds and talents of the greedy and nearly destroys the lives of many innocent people. Anyone who has been involved in a legal battle even in these modern times will certainly appreciate it.
    Listening to BLEAK HOUSE is like going to an immense party where the guests are as varied and colorful a group of people as you will ever meet.
    There are over fifty characters in the book so you never know who you may show up next. However, they are all delightful. A thoroughly entertaining and engrossing listen: poignant, suspenseful and unforgettable. A great work from a master storyteller! Well read, too. Five stars!

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Glenn Assonet, MA, USA 04-11-06
    Glenn Assonet, MA, USA 04-11-06
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wonderful!"

    Nobody creates characters like Charles Dickens - nobody. As I write this, I am lost in the world of Bleak House and loving it. I find myself looking for excuses, even with the current price of gas, to take long and winding drives so I can listen some more. In a word, although it may not be quite up there with David Copperfield or Oliver Twist, it is vintage Dickens, a little more mature in theme perhaps, but a book suffused with wonderful characters and an engrossing story.
    I was surprised but pleased that the reader was American. I have tried listening to readers with English accents and usually given up. I'm sure it may give the reading a certain authenticity but it
    also makes it just a little harder for me to understand, and with a 39 hour book, that would add up. This was an intelligent but unobtrusive reading. The narrator changed his voice enough to let you know a different character was speaking - softening it slightly when Ester was speaking, for example - but did not try to "act out" the whole thing. I like that. I want books I listen to get their look and feel from my "mind's eye", just as in reading the printed page, and not to be forced into a certain way of imagining characters by the reader's acting them out too much. All in all, a wonderful book and a very good reading. I give it 5 stars and look forward to downloading more Dickens as soon as I finish the last few chapters of Bleak House. Time for a drive!

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia Cobden, Australia 07-04-08
    Virginia Cobden, Australia 07-04-08 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Superb Narration"

    The narrator is simply wonderful. He combines with Dickens to make the reader relate to the lively characters through all the twists and turns of the fascinating plot. This is a jolly good story. The atmosphere is simply marvellous. Read this story and you will become totally immersed in the plot, place and people. I loved it.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    wendy Victoria, BC, Canada 02-03-11
    wendy Victoria, BC, Canada 02-03-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Not the best voice"

    This was one of the first audiobooks I bought and I didn't realize that you could listen to a sample. Every time I tried to listen to this, I would fall asleep and I thought it was me. I loved the words and the way Dickens writes, but I did find the narrator's voice sounded similar to a computer generated voice. I took the time to listen to the samples of all the versions of this book and I found there were much more animated versions. I realize it must be an onerous task to narrate such a tome and the narrator was probably trying to save energy to carry himself through... As some other reviewers have recommended, listen to the sample first and then try the samples of other narrators...

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janie Gulf Breeze, FL, United States 04-17-06
    Janie Gulf Breeze, FL, United States 04-17-06 Member Since 2004

    I have a listening addiction.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "This is not a well read recording!"

    I love anything from this era. Normally I can get lost in my enjoyment of archaic London slang, it is so entertaining. This reading is painful to endure. The narrator’s voice fades in and out during the recording. Also, his settings on the recording equipment must have been changed by gremlins every time he left the recording booth for lunch. The tone changes constantly during this monotone reading. At some points he sounds like a robot – completely computer generated. There are actually points in this book where he sounds like he has no idea of what the words he is reading mean. There are accents and tones that do not even relate to the topic of the sentence, much less relating to each other. I am beyond counting the number of words he mispronounces. It would seem logical if you are reading a book in archaic London slang, you should at least research what the terms might mean. This narrator has such serious faults I can only recommend you seriously consider spending your credit on another book. I hate to waste a single credit by not finishing this book, but at this point I would rather clean the house.

    3 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Greg Stewart 08-17-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Confusing"

    I have just finished listening to the book but had to go back and listen to things over again. My download duplicated a 20 minute segment of part 5 right in the middle of part 3. At 4hours 45 minutes 55 seconds into part 3 this little clip was added from out of nowhere. I don't know if the section was recorded over something I missed or if it was just inserted. Anyhow, being 23 hours into the book it was not a welcome addition. I kept wondering about that clip and how out of place it was, then I finally heard the exact same clip in its correct place nearer the end of the book in section 5 where it made much more sense. Other than that, I enjoyed the book and the characters as read by the narrator.

    2 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Russell Cary, NC, United States 10-18-07
    Russell Cary, NC, United States 10-18-07
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    "Not a good narration"

    I generally like anything by Dickens, but I agree with the reviewer from MD below that the narrator is horrible. I would add that he seems to have no rhythm in his reading. It is choppy and pauses at awkward places mid sentence or mid thought. As for comment below about listening to the example before buying, it is sometimes hard to get a good idea of how good or bad the narrator is based on those examples.

    1 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-8 of 8 results
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  • Shawn
    New malden, SRY, United Kingdom
    10/2/06
    Overall
    "Bleak House Review"

    Although this is a stunning book by Dickens. The reading of the book is a very poor one. Dickens has a name for writing paragraph long sentences. These are then quite hard to read first time over. I feel that the orator does a huge violence to the meaning of the story in the way it is read.

    If you just want to hear the story because it is a fair size book, then go ahead and buy this. If, however you are familiar with this particular story and look forward to hearing it rather than reading it again, please save yourself the bother. You will almost certainly be disappointed!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
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