Bleak House - BBC 
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An epic BBC adaptation of the Dickens classic, with a script by acclaimed writer Andrew Davies and performances from Gillian Anderson, Denis Lawson, Charles Dance and Anna Maxwell Martin, amongst many others.
High and low life in Victorian London is explored to the full when young Richard Carstone (Patrick Kennedy) and his cousin Ada (Carey Mulligan) are caught up in the interminable legal case of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce. Drawn into a world where the icy and composed Lady Dedlock (Anderson) hides a dark secret, and where their lives will be affected by the attentions of their friend Esther (Martin), their guardian Mr John Jarndyce (Lawson), and the predatory attentions of various unscrupulous lawyers, boarding house owners, and debt collectors, the two young cousins will each meet with very different ends as the case approaches its long-delayed conclusion.
Andrew Davies is the king of the BBC mini-series--his skilfully adapted scripts for Pride & Prejudice (the beloved Colin Firth version) and many, many more are peerless examples of classic novels done right--cunningly edited and shaped to let all the rich emotion and sharp intelligence spill over with zip and vigour. Bleak House is no exception; it's one of the best Dickens adaptations to date. The mini-series form allows Dickens' panoramic view, brimming with eccentric characters and complex turns of plot, to sprawl out without losing an iota of suspense or momentum. Two innocent young orphans (Patrick Kennedy and Carey Mulligan) are the potential heirs to a fortune, but their fates are snarled in a monumental legal battle known as Jarndyce and Jarndyce. But the heart of the story is another orphan, Esther Summerson (Anna Maxwell Martin), whose mysterious parentage proves to be intertwined with the fate of the Jarndyce wards and the aloof Lady Dedlock (Gillian Anderson, The X-Files). Dickens' story twines through an excoriating vision of the legal system to heartbreaking domestic drama to a murder investigation to near-Gothic horror, all broken into utterly delicious half-hour segments (after the hour-long opening episode). Martin is utterly beguiling, homely at one moment and luminous the next; Anderson's grippingly eerie and brittle performance will delight her fans. But to single out anyone seems absurd, because every character--from the vicious lawyer Tulkinghorn (Charles Dance, White Mischief) to the foppish parasite Skimpole (Nathaniel Parker, The Inspector Lynley Mysteries) to the simpering clerk Guppy (Burn Gorman)--is intricately drawn, all hitting a mesmerizing balance between caricature and stark emotional honesty. Bleak House demonstrates that humour, pathos, and social criticism can all be contained in one wonderfully entertaining package. --Bret Fetzer, Amazon.com
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A must read classic novel but consider other Charles Dickens novels too.
If you haven't come across this novel before, it's the one that famously begins: 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times'. Yes, there's your small fact for a pub quiz. Set in the time of eighteenth century London and France, there is a lot of history as Dickens describes the bloodied and violent streets of Paris. With the guillotine ominously hanging over society, (pun definitely intended!), many innocent civilians are somewhat slaughtered as the spies close in. There's a fair bit of fighting in this novel, a lot of chat and even more description. Lacking the humour of say, Austin, Dickens grimly portrays a social mess that I found confusing and difficult to properly appreciate. In honesty, it was the final part of the novel that I enjoyed the most and one where I really understood what was going on!
There are plenty of classic novels out there and a range of Dickens to encounter. I won't read this again; I am glad I did but would try a different one to see if I enjoyed it more.
I found the characters in many cases well rounded and enjoyable, indeed I’d say I found many more deep and engaging than, somewhat saccharin Nicholas himself (I’m think Ralph, Newman Noggs and John Browdie). The occasionally funny Dickensian turn of phrase equally entertaining. I’d recommend getting a version with a character list and the original illustrations. It is a very, very long book, which although written in bite sized chapters, I think requires that the reader keeps to a sustained reading pace otherwise risking it becoming, even for me in places, lacking drive and focus. For me one for the better Dickens, helped by me not actually knowing the, usefully uncomplicated story at all.
I am reviewing the DVD with Gillian Anderson, Charles Dance, etc - STELLAR! Cast, costumes, sets, script - everything - captured the essence of the novel amazingly well. I am still ploughing through the novel, mind you, but so far it is a faithful adaptation with only very minor changes which did not affect the story at all.
I have read a few novels by different authors from the 1800s and found that they read quite awkwardly, not so with this novel.
A great story, with the usual great Dickins characters. The film has large chunks of the story missing so it was still rewarding to read.
If you haven't tried reading an older classic author before I would recommend this book as a springboard Ito a different genre.
The book is very much of its time, and although Dickens was acutely aware of poverty and class, he seemed to have a racial blind spot - still controversial to this day.