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Publisher's Summary

This Audible Exclusive performance of Bleak House features a unique introduction written and narrated by Miriam Margolyes.

Recognised as one of Dickens' most accomplished titles, Bleak House has impressed critics and audiences alike since it was first published in 1852. The novel boasts one of the most intelligent and engaging plots in all of English literature and is sure to engage the listener's imagination as it transports us back in time to the seedy, grimy and hazardous streets of Victorian London.

This release is part of the Dickens Collection, an exclusive series of unmissable performances available throughout 2018.

About the audiobook:

At the heart of Bleak House is the longstanding case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce - a damning portrayal of the 19th century legal system. Dickens shines a light on the impact that overdrawn court proceedings could have on the lives of those involved, specifically through two of his protagonists, Richard Carstone and his beloved Ada Clare.

Dickens' unassuming heroine, Esther Summerson, along with the equally benevolent owner of Bleak House, John Jarndyce, attempts to guide the young lovers, Richard and Ada, to live their lives unaffected by the court proceedings. But with the introduction of some typically Dickensian characters such as Grandfather Smallweed and Mr Tulkinghorn, trouble soon ensues for all who cross their paths.

About the author:

Having experienced the incarceration of his father, Charles Dickens had to abandon his studies at a young age and set to work in a factory so as to support himself. Despite his short-lived education, Dickens went on to write 15 novels, various articles, novellas and short stories. He lectured and led campaigns for children's rights and education and arguably became the ultimate self-made man. Bleak House offers unique insight into the mind-set of a middle-aged Charles Dickens and the exceptional way in which his artistic skill had grown and developed by then.

About the narrator:

Miriam Margolyes is an award-winning stage and screen actress, best known for her roles in The Age of Innocence, Little Dorrit, Sunshine, Cold Comfort Farm and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Her stage credits include The Vagina Monologues, Romeo & Juliet, The Threepenny Opera, The Canterbury Tales and her own one-woman show, Dickens' Woman. Miriam has always been a keen admirer of Charles Dickens and demonstrates a profound understanding of his themes and writing style through her skilful narration of Bleak House.

Public Domain (P)2018 Audible, Ltd

What members say

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Not know the story is a disadvantage

Enjoyed other novels of this era--Dickens-Dostoesky-Tolstoy--but found Bleak House challenging-to-follow. Learn about story before listening.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great story!!

Excellent narration and the individual character performances moved the story along with contemptuous allure. loved it!!

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • K. J. Noyes
  • 04-29-18

Complex story brought to life by a talented reader

Incredibly talented audio-narrator, complex story of deception, intrigue and the law.

I couldn't resist trying this, despite a running length of 43 hours. This was a story I remember vaguely from a BBC adaptation, a very complex one, so I hoped I'd cope. Miriam Margoyles is an actor I knew I'd be able to enjoy listening to for long periods. She is also, as is evidenced here, a very talented audio narrator, one who (as she admits herself) here has to voice dozens of distinct characters and keep each sounding consistent throughout, from children to adolescents, young men and women, the poor and the gentry, old gentlemen and eccentric old ladies.

And boy, does she pull it off! At times I forgot I was listening to a women, she is almost age and gender-less to the ear. Very impressive. And it made this a very enjoyable read.

The story is incredibly complex and layered. I'll admit that I've since borrowed a York Notes from the library so I can revisit some chapters to follow the storylines. There are so many names coming thick and fast that this makes Bleak House a challenge as an audiobook.

I would have liked Margoyles' introduction at the end of the book rather than the start, as an afterword or note on the edition - her comments on Esther made it hard to judge her objectively, though I found I had a very different opinion of her to the narrator. The few snippets and facts about recording an audiobook made for interesting listening.

With so many characters and stories, the simplest description of this is a legal one - two wards of court and their companion await a long-overdue ruling on a Will. The Law is almost a character in the book, its workings grindingly slow and painful, catching people up on its teeth as it turns.

Esther, I found very sympathetic, for the most part, but very much a creature of her time, a demure "little woman" putting others before herself and almost too good. Ada is her "dear one" (I grew tired of this phrase) and seems very young, especially with regards to loving her distant cousin, Richard, who is vulnerable to vacillation and youthful passions.

There are large numbers of secondary characters, some with storylines that tangentially intersect with that of Ada, Richard and Esther. Some stuck in my mind (Jo is as pathetic as I found Little Nell), others I had to look up after their chapters.

A dark work, with the usual Dickens commentary (some explicit in the narration) on poverty and social reform. He takes good swipes at the legal system, makes it look pretty ridiculous.

There are deaths aplenty, abuses and neglect, sad situations - it feels like Victorian London in all its underworld glory.

This was a challenge to concentrate on, for this running length, though I found Esther's chapters easier to follow that Dickens'. As Margoyles says in her introduction, a second read of the text on paper might be beneficial.

This won't ever become my favourite Dickens, nor is it the most memorable for either heroes or villains (there are many murky 'grey' people here) but it's definitely worth the effort to become more familiar with.

With thanks to Nudge Books for providing a sample Audible copy.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Barbara Passlow
  • 05-09-18

Two National Treasures

Miriam Margolyes has crafted a uniquely different voice and personality for every fascinating and brilliantly drawn character created by Dickens in this famous book - bringing the whole to life in an extraordinary way

The people and the times are indelibly impressed on the memory and seem like old friends - with great subtlety and a deep understanding of human nature at its best (and occasionally - at it's worst) by the pen of Dickens
I have lived with this production for days and nights -and though I have read and re -read Bleak House many times throughout my life - it is THIS rendition which will always now stay with me - indeed the wonder of an audible, portable library means it will be with me always if I feel like the reassuring company of these old friends so wonderfully conveyed

Miriam Margolyes is an actor of genius and she perfectly expresses Charles Dickens brilliant portrayal of a society of other times and other language, woven together by his powerful understanding of human nature and his natural compassion
This is a remarkably successful, complex subtle reading of a truly great story
A treasure indeed !!



3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean Leary
  • 05-26-18

Bleak House review

Miriam Margolyes is the best narrator of Dickens that I know. She is able to bring the vast array of characters to life, each with a different voice. This is a wonderful performance of this story.


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  • P Shelley
  • 05-25-18

A magnificent read!

This is a remarkable book, read by a remarkable reader. The voices , red by Miriam, come to life and helped me to come to know and distinguish the many characters. It’s a long story which draws you in from the beginning, then leads you into the lives of the characters so well that you almost feel you know them personally. This book is worth spending the time and attention on.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • K. I. Myers
  • 05-05-18

Sublime

Listening to this audiobook has been an absolute joy.
The story, of course, is well known, but the reading of it by
Miriam Margolyes has been wonderful. She has such a talent for characters and the music in her voice has made the long hours of this book go by far too quickly. I’m sad now it is finished but I’d love to find anything else she has narrated.

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  • laura davey
  • 05-27-18

miriam is a wonder

miriam is a miracle worker, I am not sure I could have got through this rather long book with it's complex web of interlinked characters. she managed to give each character their own voice and character such that they barely required introduction from the text. fantastic story brought to life. thank you.

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  • AlanKS
  • 05-26-18

Superb reading.

Dickens' greatest novel, with its wide panoply of characters is brought to life by Margolyes brilliant reading, finding separate voices for each of them.

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  • Mrs. O. W. Hawkins
  • 05-17-18

Absolutely wonderful

Captivating throughout and so well performed! I enjoyed every minute! Brought to life wonderfully well!

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  • uk person
  • 05-13-18

genius

I did Bleak House for A level. And consequently never looked at it again for 50 years. But Miriam Margolyes has brought it to life for me. Send a posh car for that woman. Get her an excessively comfy chair. And a footstool. And let her read whatever Dickens she likes. The woman is a genius.