Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Bleak House

Bleak House by Charles Dickens is The Younger Son's favorite of Dickens' work. And now that I've read it, I understand why. How can you fault a novel with a death by spontaneous combustion? It is worth reading for that alone, and there's much more there to keep your interest. The characters are many but varied and not easy to confuse. The plot includes elements concerning both major and minor characters, both of a personal nature and concerning the legal system's dealing with conflicting wills. It contains one of the first English detectives in fiction -according to Wikipedia, Bleak House is "the first novel in which a detective plays a significant role". I find it fascinating. It was originally published in installments. It can be read online.

from the dust jacket of my Modern Library edition:
Dickens' great novel, famous for its attacks on the venerable court of Chancery, is an impassioned account of the celebrated Jarndyce versus Jarndyce court case. The heroine is Esther Hawdon, the illegitimate daughter of Lady Dedlock and Captain Hawdon. Esther is the ward of Dr. Jarndyce and together they live at Bleak House. When Lady Dedlock's lawyer Dr. Rulkinhorn hears of her guilty secret, and is later found murdered, Lady Dedlock becomes the prime suspect -until she is found dead herself.

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