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.
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.
This is one of Dickens' more meandering books, but the narration was truly remarkable and made this a great "read".
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
"The Ultimate Dickens Audiobook"
I struggle to imagine a better audiobook. Firstly, it's a great novel by Dickens and has two fantastic narrators. I don't see how Bleak House can be satisfactorily read by one reader now I've heard this version. Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallagher reading Esther Summerson's narrative are both superb. I looked forward to my daily commute eagerly and felt rather bereft when it was over. Sean Barrett is a master of characterisation, not putting a foot wrong throughout the story. His Joe the Crossing Sweeper is a particular highlight!
"One of the finest versions of any Dickens novels"
This version of Bleak House is undoubtedly one of the best Dickens or for that matter any audio books I have listened to, the two narrators pace the book and give the characters a depth that is so often missed in lesser adaptions, if you have wondered what all the fuss is about Dickens then this is the place to start,
"Very fine readings"
Sean Barrett is never less than brilliant but Teresa Gallagher's performance here needs real praise too. Esther's character and her part of the narrative can seem precious to some, but the way in which Gallagher matches Barret's vigour as a caricaturist and yet keeps us anchored in Esther's world view is a challenge that is much harder to achieve or sustain; Gallagher manages to do both, and you end up realising just how rich and subversive Dickens use of this narrator is.
This is the first time I have "read" Dickens, having seen oh so many adaptations, and it was a revelation. I was so surprised by how funny his writing is and all the little touches that truly bring the story and charaters to life. As for this adaptation, it is, quite simply, spellbinding. The use of two narrators really brought the story to life and both were exceptional. I have eulogised about this to my wife who now wants to listen and I would be very happy to listen to this time and again. Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.
"Now I know what the reviews were talking about...."
I was looking for reviews of dickens's work to help me to decide what to listen to. The reviews spoke of how good the narrators are, which was the selling point for me. I could not be more delighted. Seriously, I thought it was going to be hard-going, but Teresa Gallagher in particular has drawn me right in. If you are thinking about this, just don't hesitate. Seriously, I can't recommend it enough.
I'm a fan of classics and, in most cases, know what I'm in for when I begin a book. Nevertheless, I almost always enjoy them, and this was the case with Bleak House. Among other things it's always interesting to compare TV versions of the stories with the books, and in this case the TV version is pretty true to the book. When buying a book I consider listening to the samples important because the narrators can make a huge difference to the listening experience. In this case, they were excellent. I always listen to the classics in their unabridged form even though some authors, particulary Dickens, can be a bit long-winded - this is something anyone considering this book should take into account.
Sean Barrett's reading of little Joe's demise had me weeping so much I couldn't listen again until 24 hours had passed!
Sean was incredible, Teresa was fine, and Dicken's prose was incomparable!
Can't recommend it more highly.
"Completely draws you in."
I love Dickens however with Bleak House I had struggled to get into it.... but with the amazing voices of Sean Barrett and Teresa Gallaghher I found I was right there...in the foggy streets of London feeling angry with the court system. As usual the Dicken's characters are diverse and vivid. They make you laugh, move you, anger you or inspire you alternately.
(One warning though...if you don't like 'too good' characters and get annoyed by that then you may find Esther, the heroine, hard to swallow. If you have read ' Little Dorrit' and found Amy irritating then it may be a similar scenario for you here. Personally I really like Esther and, if she is too good to be true, I don't mind...it is a story after all. )
I enjoyed this audiobook so much I'm listening to it again even though I only just finished it....there is so much detail, so much sly humour that I keep finding things I missed the first time around.
A very good buy.
"Well worth listening to"
This was my first purchase from audible and it was certainly value for money. Brilliantly read and thoroughly compelling. For any Dickens fan this is well worth a listen.
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.
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