Bleak House Readalong – “lawyers lie like maggots in nuts.”

Bleak House



It’s here, it’s here! I admit, I was super psyched when Alice posted sign-ups for a Bleak House readalong (because these readalongs are the best, duh), and then I was kind of regretting it when I saw how massive Bleak House was. Why did I think it was a measly 400 pages? ANYWAYS. And yes, I put off reading until the weekend which clearly didn’t go well, and I was all whiny about it, but now I’m just kind of loving it. My mouth is open and I’m looking around with just a confused, happy grin on my face.


happy endings gif

So there’s some lawsuit called Jarndyce and Jarndyce that’s been dragging on for decades and it involves a ton of people in some way, and any inheritance coming to anybody is just getting gobbled up by the legal fees and such. And no one even remembers the particulars of the case. K. I still have no real clue what’s going on – we know a bit about that Jarndyce guy who killed himself, and that numerous characters are in some way attached to the case, and that’s about it.

Esther is an orphan character (man, Dickens loved him some orphans, didn’t he?) who grew up knowing that her godmother/aunt hated her and wished she’d never been born, and “I knew that I had brought no joy, at any time, to anybody’s heart,” and CHRIST, even I felt sad for her. And you know me, and my general not-giving-a-crap about sad kids. But Esther’s story is definitely a bit depressing, and somehow this Jarndyce guy hears about her and looks out for her. And there are two other young people, Ada and Richard, who are guardians of his, and Esther becomes a chaperone or something for Ada, I guess? All well and good, because she’s kind of obsessed with Ada and they become insta-besties. And while Esther COULD be annoying because she keeps putting herself down and she’s a bit chatty, she’s also just a really sweet girl and she’s just so damn happy and grateful all the time, and I like her.

HOWEVER, my favorite character so far is Mr. Boythorn. He’s probably not a main character in this giant story, but he’s LOUD and talks in superlatives constantly and is all ridiculously angry and threatening to beat people up, ALL WHILST HIS YELLOW CANARY IS PERCHED ON HIS HEAD. And and “It is morally impossible that his name can be Sir Leicester. It must be Sir Lucifer.” I can’t even.

Mrs. Jellyby and Mrs. Pardiggle (Dickens, you’re killing me with these names dude) are both just so ridiculous and I’m not sure who is worse. Mrs. Jellyby for blatantly ignoring her kids while she pretends to be charitable towards Africa, or Mrs. Pardiggle who drags her kids around everywhere while she belittles poor people with her fake, insincere good deeds.

captain hammer gif

Mrs. Pardiggle reincarnated?


Mr. Skimpole! GET A JOB, YOU LAZY MOOCH. How can Mr. Jarndyce stand this guy?

Besides the absolute absurdity of everything that’s going on so far, I gotta give it to Dickens – he can write pretty awesomely when he wants to. There have been a few sentences or passages that I highlighted just because I thought they were beautifully written and evoked really strong imagery. So, props to you dude, I guess.

Aaaaand I think that’s all I got for now. I wanted to talk about chapter 11 and how things just all of the sudden got a tiny bit creepy and then that dude died and Krook is acting kind of shifty, but *whispers* I didn’t finish the chapter yet.

look at my wrist i gotta go







  1. I have missed all these characters! You are bringing them all back so vividly for me – this is going to be fun! I couldn’t get over Mrs. Jellyby, and I felt so sorry for her poor husband.


  2. Yay Boythorn and his bird. I do think he’s going to be a passing character but he’s so much fun. I need him to just complain about people that give him bad directions.

    Nice use of the Dr. Horrible gifs.


  3. I’M SO GLAD YOU’RE LIKING IT. I’m fairly convinced Bleak House is one of those books that’s just awesome and so people have to like it.
    No one understands Jarndyce v. Jarndyce. And no one ever will. BUT Boythorn is the greatest and ohhh Harold Skimpole, who was based on a Real Dude Dickens knew. Yeah. He’s gonna show up again.


    1. I can’t believe there was a real Skimpole! Also I sort of feel as if I’m going against Dickens’s wishes by not loving that guy but, to quote Esther, I just can’t help it!


  4. “My mouth is open and I’m looking around with just a confused, happy grin on my face.” Yeah, that’s basically where I’m at. Mostly at the confused thing because I don’t think I know half of what’s going on. I’m going to rely on everyone else to tell me (apart from Ada and Esther, I think we ALL know what’s going on there…)

    I feel like I preferred Jellyby to Pardiggle, since her kids were neglected rather than actively, like, made to do things they didn’t want to. Actually… is that better? I don’t even know!


  5. I, too, am enjoying this book way more than I expected to. But I’m afraid that means I can never read another Dickens, because now my hopes are at quite a high height. It’s long, but we can do it!

    And if Mrs. Pardiggle is Captain Hammer, then I’m afraid I’ll need to be uncomfortably attracted to her from now on.


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