A complex plot of love and inheritance is set against the English legal system of the mid-19th century. As the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce drags on, it becomes an obsession to everyone involved. And the issue on an inheritance ultimately becomes a question of murder.
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I've wanted to read Bleak House for a long time, but the fact that it's about a legal case put me off. I should've trusted Dickens's story telling talents: what a remarkable story! What memorable characters! Once again, Dickens's support for every day people and their struggles as well as his social conscience add energy and vision to an incredible tapestry of characters and plot. Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher are perfect narrators. I was enthralled for the 35 hours--and that's saying something! The only quibbles are my usual issue with the saintly female persona that Dickens sometimes creates (Dora in David Copperfield, for example): Esther gets perilously close to that by the end, but her long-suffering is balanced out by the profusion of wonderful other women, including independent businesswoman Caddy Jellaby and Miss Flyte. Also, I had to re-download this to get it to play on my ipod, as it didn't automatically come in three sections, which was an unexpected hitch resolved by Audible's support. Anyway: I can see, again, why Dickens was a Victorian literary rock star. Wow.
The two narrators worked really well. It really felt like reading the book.
Dickens always has such varied and interesting characters. This book is particularly filled with them.
The scene where Esther and Mr. Bucket chase after Lady Dedlock was very exciting, and ultimately sad.
What a wonderful man John Jandyce is, but some of the characters take advantage of them.
I would say that this is an excellent version of Bleak House, and I would highly recommend it.
Massive, complex and heartrending, Bleak House is one of the greatest novels every written.
Too hard a question! I love Esther's narrative for the way she both undervalues herself in her humility but at the same time always follows her instincts, which are always sound. So she is both very modest and very strong. I also love the character of Tulkinghorn, as evil and secretive and meddlesome and smarmy a lawyer as the world has ever seen. Then too, Mr Jarndyce and his Growlery is a wonderful thing. And poor Joe, certainly the most heartrending character in the novel. Mr Bucket is pretty fabulous too, with his relentless detectiving joined to a kind and gentle heart. Who can choose???
They are both very gifted readers. They are not showy nor do they draw attention to themselves. but they manage to capture each voice and each dialect perfectly, a pretty amazing feat given Dickens' penchant for creating a huge cast of characters from across the entire spectrum of English society.
Both, on almost every page.
I am two thirds through (27 hours and counting) and I dread finishing the novel. Maybe I'll just start all over again.
Yes, again and again. Like all Dickens' novels, the characters are well developed and the story is never predictable.
The readers of this version were the best I have ever heard.
Sean Barrett always does quite well and Teresa Gallagher is quite excellent in her portrayal of Esther Summerson but it takes a bit of time to get used to her portrayal of the other characters, and is particular jarring when she takes up characters we have only head in Barrett's voice. grade: B.
Simply one of the best books ever written.. and Sean Barrett makes this one of the best audio books ever narrated.
Reading, the arts and physical activity clarify, explain, illustrate, and interpret life’s goods and bads.
Its cadence is so very Romantic Age. All works out somewhat well – and the full bodied words that Dickens uses to take you along for his tale are enchanting. Yet, be forewarned, after the initial tale begins, it tends to dull out for a while. Forebear!
The tale picks up in the second half and Dickens is at his best demonstrating the hypocrisy of the judicial system. The system, of justice, is built to right wrongs. In fact, Dickens teaches us it is a mere theater-place for the diabolical to take advantage of those in need. Woe to those in need. Like all Dickens novels: its there to demonstrate a societal injustice and hope the reading society now knows what needs to be corrected and in a Hegelian way it will come about.
Dickens works, always seem to introduce us to evil men who turn out to be great men, and established men that do not deserve their wealth and status. Yet, the book, for all its worth, is only secondary to meeting the most wonderful of people – our heroine, Ester Summerson. A wonderful person to meet - and have in one’s own life. She is at the center of most of the little side stories that keep the major tale going and one never tires of her kindness and perfect outlook on the world. There are better Romantic pieces but, if you are addicted to 19th century England; this a worthwhile read.
Since Dickens can be difficult to read because the books are very 'wordy', having the audio to listen to and reading the book at the same time was a joy. Hearing the different voices of the characters, accents and all, and listening to the flow of Dickens' beautiful writing was wonderful.
I will definitely do this again, especially for more difficult texts. And the price was right. If these were priced any higher, it would limit my ability to but both the book and the audio.
The Book Snob for Paris Life Magazine.
If you want to read something slightly depressingly foggy and bleak, with some sides of very interesting people and their stories, with some death and even a surprising murder with a cool detective story built in, and some really funny moments,but also mingled with the oppression and misunderstanding of the law, and debt, and misery, and crooks, and lawyers, and those people who cause lawyers to exist in the first place, then please, be my guest and read Bleak House, but do it with a book, with the original illustrations. It will be so much more fun. I usually say classics are better encountered in audio as we haven't changed the way we talk that much. But with Dickens, something is just over the top with the audio word. So, I say skip this audio (nothing against the narrator either) and just read it.
Other reviewers talk about the narration and I agree the dual narration is the key to this book as there are many female parts and a male only would hurt the story. There are several Esther Summerson narrations in the book and in my opinion can only be done with a female voice. This is a character driven novel galore with Tulkinghorn, Mr. Guppy, Skimpole, Mr Snagsby, Smallweed, I don't know nothing Jo, It is a classic like Great Expectations and Oliver Twist. I saw the two BBC TV series on Bleak House, but the 1985 follows the book more.
If you are a Dickens fan then this book will not disappoint. Bleak House was anything else but beak to me.
"Into the Desert"
Dickens' ”Bleak House” is perhaps his most celebrated novel, a pioneering work that, if there is talk of the literary canon, usually has a rather prominent place reserved for it. It's full of remarkable writing, among that writing the classic descriptions of London and the fog; it's commended for its structure, and complex array of characters and their interactions. In short, it's a classic, Dickens at his most Dickens.
And I'm so glad it's over. This was supposed to be right up my alley: I had read ”David Copperfield” and was completely immersed, as I loved the language, the style, the atmosphere. The narrative is broken into two parts, that of an apparently omniscient narrator and that of Esther, and these two narrative threads ricochet, swerve and intermingle. The first fifty pages are utterly exhilarating in their beauty and poetry, but I wasn't expecting the book ironically to turn into a big, never-ending Jarndyce and Jarndyce with no end in sight: I think the idea, generally, is a very good one, the mystery works, and the social aspect adds a realistic dimension to it all, especially since Dickens had first-hand experience of the legal system. But the main flaw of the book, for me, was that it just dragged too long for its own sake so that what pulse there was had, halfway through, become a mere memory.
I wasn't too enthralled by any of the characters, either. I had difficulty with Esther's narrative, especially, where everything happens during the golden hour or the rosy-fingered dawn, or is, in other ways, full of sweetness and dearness, and little else. Since I've only read ”David Copperfield” I'm not really in the position to say, but so far it seems that it's the main character who has the misfortune to be the channel through which all things happen, but who seems to have little to contribute on one's own. I'm surprised that I'd yearn for the classic device of change in the character so much, but I think Esther, and many of the other characters, exist primarily in a stasis, or vacuum, without much gravitational force to pull them either way.
The narration has its pros and cons. On one hand, both Barrett and Gallagher do a good job with the material, often emphasizing the caricatures, but on the other, the text itself is so long that it's difficult to carry it through, even with two narrators. It doesn't help that Gallagher has to deal with Esther's narrative, which, as to my complaint, isn't all that interesting and offers very little.
I'm trying to make sense of my feelings to myself as much as to you, who might have unhappily stumbled upon this review. One thing that didn't help was that while I listened to ”Bleak House” had another reading project going on, that being Thomas Pynchon's incomparable ”Mason & Dixon”, a work of an equally gifted, or even more gifted, master of the language. In many ways my experience with Pynchon mirrored with ”Bleak House”: when Pynchon was wild fun, Dickens offered surprisingly few moments of glee; while Pynchon was able to weave a complex narrative that moved unpredictably, Dickens' narrative, with its many ”surprises”, felt like it just wandered off into the desert unprepared, stalling and hoping to get out alive. Whether it did, I'm not quite sure. I'm certain, however, to re-evaluate whether I'll have to guts to try ”The Pickwick Papers” anytime soon, as I already have it in my library. I think I'll go somewhere else first.
I enjoyed this book as it was read by two different people so you didnt get bored with the reader. I love Charles Dickens books. I will be ordering others books of his. The next one will be Oliver Twist.
"Slow but stick with it"
Long and laborious but gratifying as a story eventually. Pleased I stuck with it. In the days of scandal, smallpox, death and honour the story unfolds and the characters come to life. Well done to the narrators
"Still a rich and friity story.."
As we socially return to 19th century values this story tells of what we can expect.
Property, littigation, ruin and pomp.
"Beautifully narrated sprawling mass of a novel!"
Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher do a tremendous job narrating this sprawling narrative which doesn’t have the focus or thematic centre of many of Dickens’ other tales. Parts had me laughing out loud, parts were really engaging - there are the elements of social commentary and class issues we'd expect from Dickens. However, it could be tighter, but overall I'm glad I invested the time.
"Outstanding story and audiobook"
I have listened to several Dickens audiobooks now, and for me it is the BEST way to discover these novels, which can look so daunting on the shelf. I found the two narrators absolutely superb and their accents and characterizations wholly convincing, and certainly enough to reduce me to tears on more than one occasion. Dickens' incisive parody of the legal profession is still absolutely relevant today, while the genuine goodness of many of the characters is inspiring (however one-dimensional some of them may be!). Whole-heartedly recommended for the richness and humanity of the story, the portrait it paints of the law system, social welfare and 1850s society in general, and the narration that brings it to life.
"With Dickens you get what you expect!"
Audiobooks are a great way to catch up with those classics you avoided through school and life. The characters within this compelling work appear as vivid caricatures of what life must have been like in those times. Not a beach book by any means, but a must for the collection.
Not only is this a great work of literature, but the two actors are superb, voicing each of the many characters carefully and amusingly.Thoroughly recommended!
"Complex Plot ...so stay alert!"
Good novel but it is read by two different voices . One excellent the other not so. I will leave the listener decide.
Fantastic story, it was over too soon!
Also brilliant job by both narrators, a lot of talent there, really brought the story to life! I highly recommend.
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