Monday, March 12, 2012

Bleak House

As mentioned earlier, I am participating in my very first read-a-long beginning this month. I will be reading Bleak House by Dickens along with about 40 other bloggers and posting my thoughts on a weekly basis. In the interest of ease, I will keep all of my thoughts on this book in ONE blog post and just update it each week (probably).

Chapters 1-5
I was not looking forward to this, really. I joined because this is one of those books I think I should read. I don't have very many of those should reads any more for two reasons (1) in recent years I have read most of the ones I really thought I should read (2) I don't really care about the should read books any more. I am reading much more because I want to and not because I should. Should is for students and college. Want is for 40+ year old housewives on expat assignments.

With the should running through my head, I picked up my copy of Bleak House. I did it, by the way. I had to go and buy a physical book. I always knew I would have to. Easy throw away books are for the Kindle. Tomes require paper (and a pen and highlighter). Bleak House is definitely a tome.

Now, I am not a huge Dickens fan and have not read as many of his works as I would have liked to. I have only skimmed some of them until I finished Great Expectations last year, and I really enjoyed that one. But to be honest, I wasn't expecting that much from this. I didn't think I would hate it, but I was pretty glad I would only be subjected to about 63 pages a week.

But see, in the last year I had completely forgotten about Dickens' ability to describe something so vividly that you know exactly what he wants you to see. His description of Lord Dedlock for instance:
His family is as old as the hills, and infinitely more respectable. He has a general opinion that the world might get on without hills, but would be done up without Dedlocks....He will never see sixty-five again, nor perhaps sixty-six, not yet sixty-seven. He has a twist of the gout, now and then, and walks a little stiffly. He is of a worthy presence, with his light gray hair and whiskers, his fine shirt-frill, his pure white waistcoat, and his blue coat with bright buttons always buttoned.
I can't fit all of the descriptions into this post of course, it would take up too much room. But who of us that is reading this book can't see the Jellyby's children or picture exactly what Esther looks like (although I can already tell she might get to be a bit annoying). My favorite had to be the description of Krook's shop. I can only hope we are allowed to revisit Krook and his shop again before too long.

Chapters 6-9
Not a lot to say about this weeks reading. More character introductions from Dickens, and I seem to be able to keep them all straight thanks to the slower than normal reading pace. Once I realized that Esther is an "unreliable narrator" I am looking at her character in a different way. I am surprised how much I am enjoying this rather leisurely read-along. Lots of question to be answered ... and lots of despicable women who treat their children poorly. At least Mrs. Pardiggle seems to realize her children are there. Whether that is a good thing or not remains to be seen.


Reading Rambo said...

Ohhhhh I love Bleak House. It's the book that made me change my mind on Dickens. IMO it gets better and better as it goes on.

Amy said...

If I wasn't deep into Our Mutual Friend, I'd join you. I'm going to tackle Bleak House later this year. I'm loving Our Mutual Friend--and yes, his descriptions are so strong and so useful to the story.