I read Bleak House several years ago and loved it. In honour of the list I watched the BBC mini-series of Bleak House so that it would be fresh in my mind. I highly recommend watching the mini-series and found that many of the characters were portrayed just the way I viewed them in my head. The following blog was posted on my former blog (which is no longer in existence):
If you can get through the first few pages of Bleak House by Charles Dickens (which is a page and a half long description of fog) then Bleak House is a fantastic read.
The story is true to life. There are unpleasant parts, there are joyous parts, there are happy endings and sad endings. There are a few stories that don't end at all. The book follows a panoply of characters, many of who enter the book upon a chance encounter with the main character. They all seem real to life and are a bit more filled out than most characters in other novels. I am awfully fond of books that chronicle the lives of the poor and this book does that in many ways. For a book written in a time when only the wealthy could read them, it is very exciting indeed. "It must be a strange state, not merely to be told that I am scarcely human....but to feel it of my own knowledge all my life! To see the horses, dogs, and cattle go by me and know that in ignorance I belong to them and not to the superior beings in my shape, whose delicacy I offend".
This book has a suprising element of mystery to it. If you make it through over half the book it doesn't take long to realize that all of the characters who the main character chances to meet are connected to each other in many unexpected ways. All the seemingly unconnected story lines merge and then seperate through out various points in the story. Although each chapter details a different person, or a different plot line by the time you get to the end of the book you realize why they are all there. There were certain parts of the story where i couldn't put it down.
There is a love story in this book, albeit a twisted and sometimes confusing one, but a love story nonetheless. There are actually several love stories now that I think of it but the few between the main character and some of her suitors are amazing. One of her suitors loves her with a love so deep that he is willing to sacrifce his love to see her happy. Another of her suitors could be her father. This one is the one that I call twisted. I was horrified that she would end up with this character and even went so far as to yell at the book. I was formally a sexual exploitation youth worker and this relationship was a classic example of exploitation in its truest form. Someone in a position of power using it against someone under them. Thankfully things turn out okay in the end. I am trying really hard not to give away too much here.
The main character is a simple minded girl which she admits several times through out the book but several of the things that she says are so simply logical that they blow my mind.
"For I saw very well that I could not have been meant intended to die, or I should never have lived....I knew I was as innocent of my birth as a queen of hers and that before my Heavenly Father I should not be punished for birth nor a queen rewarded for it"
And I will leave you with one last quote which I think is a good summary of the book:
"You will be glad to know from my lips before I say good night that in the future, which is clear and bright before me, I am most happy, most fortunate and have nothing to regret or desire....from my childhood I have been...the object of the untiring goodness of the best of human beings, to whom I am so bound by every tie of attachment, gratitude, and love that nothing I could do in the compass of a life could express the feelings of a single day"
Overall the book chronicles one girls life in such a way that the reader can see that all things truly have worked together for (her) good. Not everything was pleasant, not everything was joyful but everything brought her to the point in her life where she could look forward to the future with bright hopeful eyes and know that she would be okay. I truly hope that I can say the same for my life.