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Tell us what you really think, Charles...
by Ellyb on November 4, 2008I am stunned that a novel with such a labyrinthine plot can be so engaging. A deeply satirical, jaundiced view of the British legal and social system of Dickens' era, "Bleak House" tells the story of an orphan, Esther Summerson, as well as those others entangled with her life in various, sometimes mysterious ways. For roughly half of the book, she serves as our narrator from her perspective as a good-hearted, intelligent girl who has had the good fortune to be taken in as a companion and housekeeper for interested parties in the interminable case of Jarndyce & Jarndyce. This case, over disputed Wills, has sucked in far too many people's lives as it stretches on and on with no end in sight.
Our other, more mysterious narrator, is more omniscient, and it is here that we are lead detective-like through the underbelly of the city, tracing mysterious connections and witnessing legal blackmail and the desperation it engenders.
Dickens here is at his height of linguistic prowess, where the way he utilizes language says more about the characters on the page than his actual sentences do. This is definitely a classic to search out, for its linguistic feats and for the strong social commentary it unflinchingly serves.
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