DAY 16 of 30-day Book Challenge – Longest book you ever read


And this will be the shortest post you’ll ever read. I made a promise a few months ago, never to mention Charles Dickens’ Bleak House again but now its rearing it’s big, massive head once more. Definitely the longest book I’ve ever read.

You wanna read more? Knock yourself out:

Oh Dickens! Bleaky Bleak House and the opportunistic author

A review of Bleak House Part 1

Bleak House – A Review Part 2

Bleak House – A Review Part 2


Okay this is the last time I talk about Bleak House, I promise.
Just a few reflections on some of Dickens’ many liberties permitted to him and only him:
I spoke before about narration in the text. I have no idea what writing courses have to say about this but there must be a rule or something against constant switching from 1st person to third. Not to mention the 3rd person disguising themselves in the 1st (!). Are you confused? Yes, so am I.
You see one of the main figures in Bleak House is Honoria Dedlock, and from the very beginning she is referred to as “My Lady Dedlock.” And who does this possessive adjective belong to exactly? It certainly can’t be Esther’s because hers is a completely different voice altogether.
Speaking of Esther, yes she made quite the gallant heroine of the story but I felt Dickens’ did not highlight her flaws enough. Yes, you heard me correctly. She was just so darn perfect in every way that every other character in the book just could not help loving her. And I too felt the same way in the beginning but her behavior and attitude was so predictable as the story progressed that at one stage she started to annoy me. Even the attitude in which she dealt with the harsh realities and problems that came her way was so noble and perfect that I found myself suffering a mild form of nausea.
Dickens took the principle that the main character should be relatable a bit too seriously, making her too good to be true in the process. In any story or novel, I like the hero/heroine to have a few emotional flaws. Maybe it’s just me. The classical era of Aeneas and Jason, the perfect heroes, still seem to echo through the history of literature. The only difference is that in this case, at least Esther is a woman. Living in a society of accepted gender equality, it’s hardly saying something but in Dickens’ time, it should be considered at least admirable on his part. Charlie off course could get away with things that we mere mortals can only dream of, as is evident. I heave a sigh of envy as I ponder this. *Sigh*

There ends my rant on Bleak House. I’ll get back to my Dan Brown now if you don’t mind…

A review of Bleak House Part 1


Okay I know I sought of promised a book review once I finished Dickens’ mammoth Bleak House but honestly, there’s way too much going on in this book and it is not my intention to bore the hell out of everyone. So for the purpose of what I really want to talk about (which is probably just as boring to many of you folks), I’ll give a summary in 100 words.

God I hate challenges, but here goes:

In the Chancery division of a London High Court a particular lawsuit called Jarndyce and Jarndyce has been plodding along for years. It centers on an unresolved Will, where various potential beneficiaries find themselves emotionally drawn to the mess, thus creating a lot of drama for themselves and everyone around them.
The main character is Esther Summerson; most of the story is told in her voice. There is a plethora of weird characters-some die in the end, some get their hearts broken, one spontaneously combusts (I’m being serious) and the others live happily ever after. Off course no Dickens novel would be complete without a destitute, orphan boy. Oh, and one person gets murdered.
Okay that’s 114 words. Best I could do.

What I realized to my annoyance while reading Bleak House, from a writing perspective was that Dickens got away with too much. Or maybe he didn’t which is probably why this novel is not one of his most recognized.

But two things annoyed me the most:

1. The narration itself: constant switching from 1st person to third, and without prior warning in some instances.
2. Treatment of the main character Esther: I understand that getting the reader to identify with the main character is pivotal to any story but did Dickens really have to overdo it by making her so perfect?

This is enough fodder for another post, so I’ll save it for next time. However I will end this by saying that, as relieved as I was to finish that damn book, I did feel a certain desolation as I neared the last couple of pages. As I said goodbye to Esther, I really did feel sad to see her go, even though I found her quite nauseating towards the end. Is this the inherent genius of Charles Dickens coming through and messing with my brain? Or maybe it’s just the standard component of a love-hate relationship, a relationship that is now bleakly over.

NM

Oh Dickens! Bleaky Bleak House and the opportunistic author


Please note that this is an old post(see date published). If you have come across this page without intending to, kindly click on HOME above. This will redirect you to my homepage and most recent post. I do apologise but I am having some glitches with WordPress and am aware of bloggers clicking on my link and ending up on various older posts on my site. Thanks, NM. 03/01/2012)

Dickens at work. Image taken from http://www.CharlesDickens.org

I was being mocked by my boyfriend recently for taking an exceedingly long time to read a novel. Embarrassingly more so, is the fact that this is a Charles Dickens book.
I consider myself a fan of Charlie not only because I loved A Christmas Carol and Oliver Twist, but also because I admire him for the person that he was. He stood strongly for what he believed in. Charlie had a lot to say and too many authorities to lambaste in the span of his 58 years. He used his pen (or quill?) to expose the injustices of his time in a sentimental but thought-provoking way.
Usually if I am not enjoying a book, I toss it aside with no guilt whatsoever. I’ve done it many times. I’ve even tossed aside Booker Prize winners. Why waste your time if you are not enjoying it? You could be reading something you do enjoy.
Reading is a subjective pastime. The type of books you read is not, in my opinion, a reflection of how smart, stupid or emotional you are. They are merely reflections of your tastes and preferences. So why am I still holding on to my copy of Bleak House? I feel for some reason to see this one through.
In Dickens’ defense it is a great story. When I first started reading it, I enjoyed getting to know the main character Esther Summerson. But as more and more characters were thrown into the mix, the story became confusing and arduous. On top of that, Dickens has a propensity to over-elaborate and go off on a tangent, the result of which can only be described in two words: word vomit. It is obvious that the man has a lot to say. The novel is 850 pages long(not including the illustrations) but I am pretty sure that as thick and convoluted as the plot is, he could have told this story in 500.
There came a point were I became so confused about certain subplots and the roles of some of the characters that I was forced to resort to the one thing that all internet junkies resort to in a time of need: Google. It was while searching for plot summaries that I came across an interesting piece of information. Bleak House had initially been written as a serial and Dickens was being paid by the word. So that explains the word vomit. I’m not sure how true this information is however as a few bloggers were disputing this but it certainly makes sense.

Coavinses, Harold Skimpole, Richard Carstone and Esther

So it seems little Ol’ Charlie D was not only a social revolutionary but an opportunist as well. That’s just brilliant. So why am I still reading this? Because in all honesty, I really do want to know what happens in the end. The story is filled with melodrama, a bit like a Victorian soap opera. And even though it might seem like there’s way too many things going on, I am told that they all tie together quite nicely in the end. Unfortunately I have another 360 pages to go until I get to the end. It’s like, knowing you’re heading for DisneyWorld but have to take a side road to get there- a long, winding, gravel road filled with murderous hitchhikers, Redcaps and numerous detours. You wonder if the long, arduous journey is worth the destination at the end.
Since I have now dedicated a whole blog post to Bleak House, I guess I have no choice but to finish it now 🙂 I must admit that this has provided me with a little motivation. Maybe in a few weeks I’ll even provide you all with a book review. And what a glorious day that would be!
NM