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Bleak House Audiobook

Bleak House

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Publisher's Summary

First published in monthly parts from March 1852 to September 1853, this novel follows the fortunes of three pedestrian characters; Esther Summerson, Ada Clare, and Richard Carstone. The story they tell embondies Dickens' merciless indictment of the Court of Chancery and its bungling, morally corrupt handling of the endless case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, giving the novel its scope and meaning.

Starting with Esther's account of her lonely, unhappy childhood, her role as protégée of the worthy John Jarndyce, Richard and Ada's guardian, the tale develops the relations between the three young people in the Jarndyce household. Numerous other characters contribute to the complex portrait of society which emerges from the novel. They include the romantic, effusive, and unworldly Harold Skimpole (based on Leigh Hunt, poet, journalist, and critic, who published The Examiner in which he introduced the public to Keats and Shelley); the boisterous, short-tempered Boythorn (based on Walter Savage Landor, poet and essayist, mentor to Robert Browning); Krook, the rag-and-bottle shopkeeper who dies a hideous death by 'spontaneous combustion'; Gridley and the crazed Miss Flite, both ruined by Chancery; Mrs. Jellyby, neglectful of domestic responsibilities in favor of 'telescope philanthropy'; the greasy Mr. Chadband, a parson 'of no particular denomination'; and Conversation Kenge and Mr. Vholes, lawyers both.

Of particular importance to the moral design of the novel is Jo, the crossing-sweeper whose brutish life and death are the instruments for one of Dickens' most savage judgments on an indifferent society.

(P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks

What the Critics Say

"Dickens could not have performed better than Robert Whitfield does here....His brilliant dramatizations range from a homeless street urchin to an arrogant barrister, from a canny old windbag to a high-minded heroine who deserves the happy ending Dickens affords her....This may be one of the most Dickensian novels Dickens ever wrote." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.4 (470 )
5 star
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4.6 (270 )
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4.7 (272 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Kim Frankston, Australia 01-08-13
    Kim Frankston, Australia 01-08-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    RATINGS
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    3
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    Story
    "Addictive"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    I highly recommend this audiobook, having tried and failed to read the novel as it is so long. The audio version so much easier to really enjoy.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story is really interesting and very involving, it's hard to guess where the twists are going. I loved the minor characters, they are so much fun.


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narrator brought the characters to life brilliantly. I loved his accents, it really made me feel like I was there and listening..


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    This book is so long, but I found it hard to put down. I did extra time at the gym so I could listen longer.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    L Mushlin 08-29-17
    L Mushlin 08-29-17
    RATINGS
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    14
    7
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    Story
    "One of Dickens' Best"

    More philosophical than many of Dickens' stories, Bleak House is almost poetic in places. Simon Vance is one of my favorite narrators and the consummate reader of Dickens. His voices are pitch perfect and enhance the story immeasurably.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah 02-14-17
    Sarah 02-14-17 Member Since 2017
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    6
    1
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    "not the best Dickens, but still Dickens"

    Not on par with Copperfield, Two Cities, or even Expectations. However there are still lovable and loathsome characters, wonderfully perfect scenes, and of course, beautiful writing. I also always enjoy this narrator.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Milton B. 07-15-16
    Milton B. 07-15-16 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
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    2
    2
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    "A truly wonderful book!"

    I've always felt that this is dickens finest book. I own all of his novels both in book and audio formats, and have read them all multiple times. His mature genius for balancing humor with serious social commentary and brilliant characterization is in full bloom here. Yet it is largely free of the darkness and impatience that descends upon others of his great novels. The humor is more kind and less caustic. Also, the reader does a fine job. In addition to reading this book three times, across many years, I've listened to this version twice. The reader makes it very easy listening. And though John Jarndyce may seem too good a fellow ever to have lived, I find it quite comforting that I live in a world that allows me to believe in him within the confines of the covers of this masterpiece. I hope anyone persuaded to read this book by this little review will feel as rewarded by the reading as I have.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rev. Kate Penrith, Australia 06-30-16
    Rev. Kate Penrith, Australia 06-30-16 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    32
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    "Excellent reading, excellent performance and outstanding Charles Dickens."

    This is a superb version of Charles Dickens adored story "Bleak House". It is hilarious, dramatic, heartbreaking, romantic, thrilling, suspenseful and beautiful... and we loved every second!

    Buy it, Listen to it and Enjoy you... you will be all the better for it!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    edris jama 06-21-16
    edris jama 06-21-16
    RATINGS
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    59
    4
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    Story
    "fascinating story
    "

    great performance by the reader as always. this classic story by one the greatest authors is well served as it deserve by being told so nicely

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Locuto 12-23-14
    Locuto 12-23-14 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    14
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    5
    3
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    "Simon Vance is phenomenal"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Bleak House to be better than the print version?

    Yes.


    What other book might you compare Bleak House to and why?

    David Copperfield. The same great Dickens-Vance combo.


    What does Simon Vance bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The characters are individualized, and truly brought to life with his subtle accents. His characterizations are never over the top -- just perfect.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Law and disorder.


    Any additional comments?

    Charles Dickens should have been knighted. Simon Vance's salary is probably too low.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter J. Shuler Palo Alto, CA 05-03-14
    Peter J. Shuler Palo Alto, CA 05-03-14 Member Since 2010
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Something missing"

    This is a fine reading of one Dickens's best. But 4 or 5 critical chapters are missing in the middle of the recording. Anyone who isn't already familiar with the story will be confused. Anyone familiar with the story will be disappointed by the loss.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Hile Evans, GA United States 04-10-13
    D. Hile Evans, GA United States 04-10-13 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    61
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    34
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    "A slightly different Dickens"

    Simon Vance always gives a book it's justice and he does the same here. As for the book it is a good Dickens novel. I found that it took longer for the characters to shakeout. There was a larger than normal number of characters and not being able to flip back to see "which person is this" did hamper following the book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Toronto, Ontario, Canada 03-15-13
    Richard Toronto, Ontario, Canada 03-15-13 Member Since 2017
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Lively Version of a Masterpiece"
    Would you listen to Bleak House again? Why?

    Yes, I will listen again. "Bleak House" is one of my favourites. It has a lot to offer. It's probably inexhaustible.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Dickens' expansive picture of London and English society, the range of characters, the ease of Dickens' writing, though there's a fair amount of repetition and I wondered if he was paid by the word.


    Which character – as performed by Simon Vance – was your favorite?

    Too hard to answer. Many characters are memorable.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Certainly not. It runs for over thirty hours.


    Any additional comments?

    This is a great work, humane, generous, humorous and full of life. The reading is upbeat and vivid, with a separate voice for almost every character. I haven't come across a novel in English that I like better. .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Steve
    Doncaster, United Kingdom
    10/21/05
    Overall
    "a Dickens Masterpiece"

    In my view, this is Dickens at his best. Well plotted, superb charaters, brilliant depiction of Victorian England with some vey fine comedy (Don't be put off by the title).
    A great reading with lively and well distinguished charaterisations.
    Loses one star because sound quality is poor in some early chapters (the original tapes have print through which is audible throughout).
    Don't miss this - and enjoy comparing your vision with BBC1's interpretation.

    11 of 11 people found this review helpful
  • Francesca
    BarryUnited Kingdom
    11/17/05
    Overall
    "Bleak House"

    Is a thoroughly good read and I had some concerns at how I would find the audio version but I need not have worried, the reader choosen does full justice to this marvellous mysterious novel from little Esther's first appearance to Miss Flyte's birds flying free

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • Crocker
    uk
    8/13/08
    Overall
    "dreary narration ,a good book made dull"

    monotonous narration ,shame it was not read by Patrick Tull or Martin Jarvis .This audio book might put you off Dickens , Listen to Mr Tulls Pickwick Papers instead

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Marsbub
    Ireland
    7/11/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Brilliant"

    Brilliant narration. Simon Vance is always a great listen and one of my favourite dickens books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • E. Bråten
    6/16/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "I keep listening again and again."

    Simon Vance is a terrific reader. Bleak House is a very long book with lots of characters, but he sustains all the varying voices and accents.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Josefina
    11/1/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "loved the book , listened twice, excellent story,"

    characters fascinating, plot really draws you in. today's writers coukd take lessons from the Master of suspense

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • S W Hessel
    6/29/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful experience"

    In all respects a wonderful experience. It took me many years to get round to Dickens. This book exemplifies his great storytelling. The reader also could not be faulted. In all, this Audible book, is highly recommended to those who want to bathe in the English language and be lost in a wonderful story for a few hours .

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    Dundee, United Kingdom
    1/29/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "It's just too long"
    Would you try another book written by Charles Dickens or narrated by Simon Vance?

    I saw the BBC TV series and loved it. I thought it was so good that I really wanted to get into the story and as it is a long story, thought the audio version would be a good way to do that. I'd listened to Little Dorrit and it had been even better than the excellent TV series. However, some books work in audio and some are too long and involved - I found the plethora of minor characters overwhelming and rather boring.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    I should have bought the abridged version.


    Have you listened to any of Simon Vance’s other performances? How does this one compare?

    No I haven't but Simon Vance's performance was very good.


    What character would you cut from Bleak House?

    Several of the minor ones that did not add to the plot. Can see why screen adaptations combine several characters into one sometimes - the character traits are required to drive the story but you don't need 10 people where 1 or 2 would do!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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