Sunday, October 24, 2010

Bleak House

Charles Dickens

A long, interminable, mindnumbingly infuriating, suicide-inducing court case screws up a family and leaves everyone's lives in ruin. That's pretty much Bleak House. The only good thing that happens for the first 4/5s of the book is the reunion of a minor character and his mother. Everything else is, well, bleak. Esther is the main character. She's the right hand lady of Ada. Ada and Richard are involved in the lawsuit of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. They are introduced to each other and the suit by the benevolent John Jarndyce. John tries to shield them from the fools gold of a court victory. Guess how well that plan works.
Bad stuff starts happening after Richard and Ada fall in love. Richard is a slacker, Esther gets sick, some philanthropists are jerks, Richard obsesses about Jarndyce, a kid dies, Esther is disfigured because of her illness, not great times. There are some notable minor characters in the novel. The Mrs. Jellyby, who care more about saving Africa than her own family, Miss Flight who's attended Jarndyce sessions forever.
This thing really takes a long time to get its legs. Once it does, though, there's a lot of good stuff. Esther and her mom, Richard's descent into obsession, John and Esther's relationship, all interesting and the theme of the injustice of the justice system is everywhere.

Rating: 6/10 Too long, conflict and drama not all that dramatic.

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