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Bleak House

Bleak House (Paperback)

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Synopsis

'The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself'. 'Jarndyce and Jardyce' is an infamous lawsuit that has been in process for generations. Nobody can remember exactly how the case started but many different individuals have found their fortunes caught up in it. Esther Summerson watches as her friends and neighbours are consumed by their hopes and disappointments with the proceedings. But while the intricate puzzles of the lawsuit are being debated by lawyers, other more dramatic mysteries are unfolding that involve heartbreak, lost children, blackmail and murder.

Fiction & PoetryClassic fiction pre 1945 Publisher: Vintage Publishing Publication Date: 01/05/2008 ISBN-13: 9780099511458  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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Charles Dickens was born in Hampshire on February 7, 1812. His father was a clerk in the navy pay office, who was well paid but often ended up in financial troubles. When Dickens was twelve years old he was send to work in a shoe polish factory because his family had be taken to the debtors' prison. His career as a writer of fiction started in 1833 when his short stories and essays began to appear in periodicals. The Pickwick Papers, his first commercial success, was published in 1836. In the same year he married the daughter of his friend George Hogarth, Catherine Hogarth. The serialisation of Oliver Twist began in 1837 while The Pickwick Papers was still running. Many other novels followed and The Old Curiosity Shop brought Dickens international fame and he became a celebrity America as well as Britain. He separated from his wife in 1858. Charles Dickens died on 9 June 1870, leaving his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, unfinished. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

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I was supposed to have read this in university but never quite got around to it. After all, it’s pretty long, even by the standards of Dickens, and I had a lot of other things to read at the same time, as well as people to meet, pints to drink, and enigmatic, attractive women waiting to reject me. I eventually got around to reading Bleak House in 2000, when I was travelling to South Africa for my first promotional tour outside Ireland and the UK. I was determined to crack it, so it was the only book that I brought with me. Mind you, it’s so long that I was still reading it on the plane back to Ireland, but after it all other fiction seemed a bit thin, in every way. In Bleak House are seeds of the legal thriller and the detective novel, but that’s just by the by. It is, for me, the greatest novel in the English language. Reading it is like being caught up in some great labyrinth, but one from which you really don’t want to escape. I now read a novel by Dickens every year because I don’t want to go to my grave without having read everything that he wrote. To be honest, some are a easier than others: Nicholas Nickleby, for example, was a pleasure, but Our Mutual Friend felt a bit like homework, and let’s not even discuss Hard Times…

John Connolly - 06/06/2013

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