Bleak House. I’m in the final run, the home straight of the last hundred pages. I’m loving it now. I don’t know why, but the first half or two thirds were such a struggle for me. I found the book incredibly boring, and there were large parts where I didn’t understand what was going on and that seemed completely unconnected to the plot. I half-suspect that book has indeed got better and I have simply become used to his style, because at the moment it’s gripping. The scope of the book is enormous, and the way all the characters come together is really very impressive, it’s almost Middlemarch-size in scope. I would also say that this is one of the first books I have read where its plotting has seemed more intelligent than me - I sometimes feel like I’m missing out on whole plot twists, and thousands of little subtle nuances in the text.
Just finished Bleak House. What a book! The ending, and last third, is so good it surely counts among the best in literature. Even on finishing, there seemed to me to be plot twists that I missed; I am unsure why the resolution of Lady Dedlock's story took place in Mrs Snagsby’s house, why Lady Dedlock was headed for the burying ground when she died, and whether it was true that Jo was Snagsby’s child. I like this continuing mystery though, the book’s plot felt like a challenge in the best of ways. And the story is so incredibly rich and warm, towards the end I really lived in it.
I could tell that Dickens wrote this as a serial. I couldn’t say for sure without re-reading, but I suspect that the tone of the book changed throughout, and especially the sympathy which certain characters were dealt with. I got a distinct sense whilst reading of events becoming true rather than being revealed. Lady Dedlock is Ester’s mother, but was she at the beginning? Also certain main characters, such as George, were introduced very late on in the novel, and there were large chunks of the book dedicated to characters who were not really important to the story in the end - the Smallweed’s for example, or Boythorn. Overall, whilst the plot was very complicated, I didn’t have complete faith that all the many strands of the book were all necessary and destined to be tied together. I don’t know though; there are so many hints, subtle nuances, vague suggestions, indications and plot twists that I haven’t kept trace of them all. I can’t immediately think of one that didn’t tie up. If they did, then Dicken’s has done something really quite astounding. I lost belief, somewhere along the way, that they all would.
I read this version