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.
©2006 Naxos Audiobooks; (P)2006 Naxos Audiobooks
I am delighted to now be enjoying the narrations from the talented multi voiced Sean Barrett and sweetly nuanced Teresa Gallagher for a wonderful book from Charles Dickens. For American ears, I believe this edition is the best from Audible when you are planning to spend approximately 40 hours listening to a hefty classic on the 19th century Bristish legal system -- a "dry" subject in anyone's hands but Dickens. After real difficulty understanding the meaning, even for 4-5 star rated editions and with text in hand, I asked Audible for the first time in 10 years to delete purchased editions from my Library for BLEAK HOUSE because the affected accents interferred with listening. I am so glad I pursued it until finding these two talented narrators - as you will be.
The use of dual narration is particularly satisfying in this long, complex but thoroughly satisfying book as I read through the entire series of Dickens novels. I particularly looked forward to Teresa Gallagher's clear, compelling well flowing narration. While Sean Barrett clearly differentiated his characters, following the presumably authentic accents of some characters was a real challenge in some chapters. That is as much a function of my U.S. English-trained ear than the narration, although I would have wished for a bit of compromise on the authenticity in the interest of clarity in a few cases. Both narrators appropriately and helpfully understated the melodrama that is rampant in the plot, typical of novels of the era. On a technical note, it would be useful if Audible would list Chapter numbers on the MP3 printed menus to help us find our place.
Born 1949, living in outback New South Wales, Australia.
Absolutely. This book was first written as a monthly serial over 20 months. Twenty episodes for 20 days perhaps. Or, if you are like me, you'll forgo sleep and listen to all. Then listen again, several times over, to catch the parts missed whilst dozing the first few times. Dickens writing is meant to be spoken. Hilarious characters beautifully exaggerated - or are they - abound here. The most decent of characters. And the most vile. My greatest reason for recommending this book is that the two readers really demonstrate Dickens intent when he gave Bleak House two narrators, the unknown onlooker telling in the present tense; and Esther, around whom all of the stories are woven. Poverty, wealth, class systems, skullduggery, robbery and murder are all given centre stage. Personalities galore.
Lady Dedlock is perhaps the most intriguing to me. I don't understand her loyalty to her awful husband, Sir Leicester Dedlock. Perhaps it's gratitude that he married her despite her past, though he knows nothing of it. She's awful. She's snooty. She's breakable. She's smart. She's discerning. She's drawn to beauty. She's conceited. Her husband is quite a bit older and very wealthy. Her deceit is so complete that she believes it herself. Most of the time. An occasional sensitivity is revealed.
Narrator Sean Barrett is witness to the events that run almost parallel to Esther's own memoir. Both readers were called upon to animate, and maintain, the voices of a huge variety of characters. Sometimes the voices are whining and irritating. Sometimes, seductive and warm. As are the characters. I particularly enjoyed Teresa Gallagher's interactions between Esther and Charley, the thirteen year old orphan girl who leaves her six year old brother Tom to take care of their baby sister while she goes to work as a laundress and is later employed by Mr Jarndyce to be Esther's maid. Her portrayal of Esther's voice throughout is easy and confident, warm and chatty at times. Formal at other times. Thoroughly enjoyable. Sean Barrett's dialogues between Lady Dedlock and Mr Tulkinghorn, given the opposing attitudes of the adversaries and the undercurrent of intent, are excellent spoken civilly in a respectably soft volume. But it is Sean Barrett's own voice as the narrator that is most commanding.
Take your chances in the Court of Chancery
Many hours of thoroughly enjoyable listening.
I am actually listening to it again and again, sampling some of my favorite chapters. Now that I understand the plot and the story, it is a thrill to go back and see how carefully strands were woven together and how masterly the descriptions and social commentary.
I had many favorite characters, among them, Guppy, Krook, and George.
This is my first one. I'd like to hear more.
I wanted it to last as long as possible, so I lingered.. but it was gripping and a real "page turner".
I'm going to get more Dickens!
Love to read, and Audible has made the two-hour daily commute enjoyable!
At first the thought of reading a criticism of the legal system in England in the mid 1800s sounds bleak indeed.
I was taken by both of the narrators immediately. Teresa Gallagher made Esther's narrative lively, and Sean Barrett as the omnicient narrative did the same. As with many Dickens novels, "Bleak House" is full of fabulous characters (major and minor), dialogue and a story that twists and turns to its conclusion.
Expect a range of emotion, happiness, gratitude, shame and grief. Dickens' stories are classic and timeless.
I highly recommend this book. I don't repeat listening to audio books, but this doesn't reflect on my total satisfaction with this story. I have been on a Dickens blitz lately listening to 8 Dickens' novels and Bleak House ranks among the best.
The essential problem is that Dickens has so many rich characters that it is impossible to choose one. Do I pick the novel's heroine, Esther Summerson or the friendly John Jarndyce? Is it Dr. Woodcourt or George Rouncewell? That's the point about Dickens - there are too many great characters to choose from. If I must choose it would be Esther. I like Dickens' female characters (e.g. Florence in Dombey & Son). She is among the best - strong in adversity, faithful to her beliefs, committed to those dear to her and high minded in her actions. And she is charming.
George Rouncewell by Sean Barrett and Esther by Teresa Gallagher. I enjoyed both narrators, but I must add that a male narrator does a better job on female characters than a female narrator does on male characters, if that makes sense. Ms Gallagher is fine as Esther but not so with male characters.
As in all Dickens' novels, there are high moments of laughter and sadness.
Bleak House has sub-plots and minor themes, but the primary focus is Dickens' criticism of the British judiciary system, notably the Court of the Chancery. What is quite revealing and despairing is that the judicial systems of today have not changed that much; there is a law for the rich and another for the poor.
Sometimes I'm okay with the pacing of classics like this one. Sometimes I'm not. And I just could get into the young characters or their problems. Maybe I'm getting too crusty...
This book was apparently the prototype for all subsequent whodunnits and I really loved another Dickens novel, so I was generous with the overall and story stars. The narration was really excellent, btw.
Addicted to books, both print and audio-.
I am quite partial to Simon Vance's narrations of Dickens, so I hesitated on buying anything other than his. I was convinced by the reviews and am very glad I chose this version. Both narrators are marvelous, especially Teresa Gallagher. It's a great story and a heartbreaking indictment of the British legal system in Dickens's time; this may make it sound dull, which it is not in the least.
I recommend listening to this and watching the PBS "Bleak House" production from 2005 (with Anna Maxwell Martin, and available on Netflix streaming). It allows you to absorb the story on several levels. I was sorry when the whole experience was over!
Bleak House is a wonderful book, full of some of the most vibrant characters and subplots anywhere. These readers bring it to life and make it easy to follow and fun to listen to. A joy from beginning to end!
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