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on 2 March 2017
my favourite Dickens by a country mile
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on 12 August 2016
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on 13 December 2011
This refers to the Nonesuch hardback edition. On roughly 5% of pages, the printing becomes increasingly compressed as it nears the gutter. It has the appearance of a photocopy of a book pressed down on the copier glass. I have two other volumes in this edition which are fine, so perhaps this was a one-off defective print run, and I notice that it has been re-printed since I purchased. Needless to say, the Dickens is wonderful.
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on 5 March 2017
Charmingly old edition! Good condition and delivered very quickly! Thanks 😊
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on 30 December 2015
Superb Dickens! Good value for money.
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on 4 April 2016
Wonderful classic
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on 1 March 2017
Well worth a bit of effort
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on 13 May 2017
I enjoy reading Charles Dickens on my Kindle
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VINE VOICEon 10 November 2003
Anyone who hasn't read this before is in for a treat, and at nearly a 1000 pages long it is certainly a book to get your teeth into. To say it is complex is an understatement, and the size of the cast of characters can seem formidable, but I guarantee that you will find scenes in this book which will stay with you forever. Dickens' writing is at times pure poetry. It's hard to list all of the great descriptions he does here but the ones that, for me, stood out are London under fog, and at midnight, the snow-swept countryside, anything to do with the neighbourhood around Krook's downbeat shop, and summer's evenings in Lincolnshire. What was most memorable though was the build-up to the legendary spontaneous combustion scene. It's impossible not to feel unnerved as the smell of burning flesh gradually seeps through the building late at night. This is a scene worthy of Hitchcock at his very best.
And the characters! Where do you start? Mr Tulkinghorn, the lawyer so shifty and slimy that you can almost hear him slithering when he walks, Mr Guppy the chancer, the vile Smallweed family, the strong but haunted Lady Dedlock, the terminally selfish Harold Stimpole, ready to excuse all his sponging off his friends on the grounds that he's so innocent of life he can't be held responsible for his actions, the iexhaustible do-gooder Mrs Jellaby, so busy being bountiful to strangers that she chronically neglects her own family, the young man Richard Carstone who becomes obsessed with the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, the beer-drinking housewives witnessing all that happens at Krook's shop, and the great Inspector Bucket, with his collection of handcuffs ready to snap on at a moment's notice. Bucket is like a Victorian version of Detective Columbo, even down to Columbo's famous trick of pausing at the door for one final word, his knack for buttering up his witnesses with an affable exterior, and frequent references to an unseen wife!
This is a hugely satisfying read. There isn't a scene in the whole 1000 pages that Dickens doesn't make fully-rounded and colourful. We know the names of all Miss Flite's birds, the painting on the ceiling of Mr Tulkinghorn's office, the layout of Bleak House itself, and what Inspector Bucket has for breakfast just before setting off for a climatic showdown (two mutton chops as it happens). It's also a satirical swipe at the law courts. Whole hordes of characters are born, get married and die, as the interminable case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce grinds on. This must surely be contender for one of the greatest English novels ever written, and if it isn't then there is truly no justice to be had!
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on 30 September 2010
I first decided to read Bleak House after the excellent BBC drama of 2005. I immediately bought the paperback but waited to read it allowing time enough for the story to be forgotten in mind - 5 years on I now read it but having decided to try it on my new Kindle instead. The reason the BBC drama was so annoyingly memorable (hence 5 years wait) was the characterisation, plot and dramatic scenes leading to an exciting conclusion - well that's exactly why the Dickens' novel itself is so brilliant. It is easy to see why the story lends itself to a film; the BBC drama came flooding back to my memory because Dickens' style is so cinematic and theatrical.

Dickens is undoubtedly a most excellent story teller. His characters, though tending to caricature for minor people, are always rounded, sympathetically portrayed and detailed. I love the way Dickens names his people in order to help the story telling (in exactly the same way Russian translations of their classics don't) - this is admittedly quite important with Bleak because it is really a dense and detailed story (originally serialised I think) and people come, go and reappear and so might be more difficult to recall. The author has a brilliant vibrant style and his choice of words is an entertainment all its own (a little example being that a friendly copyist was always `in a state of ink').

The basic story is that poor Esther Summerson doesn't know who her mother is; rich Lady Dedlock learns that her ex-lover has died. Three different but connected sets of people begin to connect the two events, most notably the somewhat sinister lawyer Tulkinghorn. All this is enveloped around the perpetual legal inheritance case of Jarndyce & Jarndyce in Victorian London. The 800 page story keeps up the pace and never slacks, not least because I've not mentioned the over 50 characters all of whom play their part in the tale; Mr Bucket (the smart detective), Smallweed (the one needing 'shaking up'), Mr Guppy (Esther fancier) and Mr Turveydrop (of the highest deportment) were amongst my favourites. I understand that Bleak House is an oddity for Dickens in that it has a dual narrator: Esther herself and the author.

There some down sides though: the minor characters can be easily misplaced or forgotten before they reappear. Here I have an interesting point - by reading Bleak house on the Kindle it meant I could search the text for all the occasions a person was mentioned, in comparison to my paperback version which had a cast list at the beginning (which most books don't have and also tells you it's probably needed) but would have been quite a thick book to carry around. I suppose I did occasionally have to reread a paragraph or two because the old wordy style was a little confusing.

I've read quite a few Dickens now: Bleak House has the drama of `Tale of Two Cities', the pathos and characterisation in `Oliver' and the humorous style in places of `David Copperfield'. I suppose I enjoyed all these slightly more than Bleak House mainly, if I'm honest, because they didn't take quite so many words to tell the tale and hence read. This really is a very long book and so needs a certain amount of commitment (I tried to complete it in 3 weeks, about 1.5hr/day and just failed) so unless you think you can read it at a pace I can imagine it might drag on a bit like the Jarndyce case itself. If you haven't the time then the BBC drama captures the story just a well but do read the other Dickens I've mentioned.

The Kindle was an excellent way to read this story. (My paperback version can go on the shelf with the inch thick spine undamaged)
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