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Extended Audio Sample Bleak House, by Charles Dickens Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.11 out of 54.11 out of 54.11 out of 54.11 out of 54.11 out of 5 4.11 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Charles Dickens Narrator: Simon Vanc Publisher: Craig Black Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Bleak House opens in a London shrouded by fog—a fog that swirls most densely about the Court of Chancery, where the obscure case of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce lies lost in endless litigation, slowly devouring an inheritance in legal costs.

Against this ominous background, Dickens’ rich tapestry of a novel weaves together the fortunes and desires of several characters whose fates are tied to the case: Ada and Richard, two young orphans who stand to inherit and wish to marry when they do; the worthy John Jarndyce, their voluntary guardian while the case is pending; and Esther Summerson, Jarndyce’s protégée, whose romance is complicated by torn loyalties and whose heritage is shrouded in mystery and scandal. This darkly comic portrait of London society is often regarded as Dickens’ best.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Perhaps his best novel…When Dickens wrote Bleak House he had grown up.”

    G. K. Chesterton

  • “Charles Dickens’s tenth novel, Bleak House, features one of his most holy of heroines…She’s the only woman that Dickens allows a pen and he brilliantly projects Esther as his type of ideal woman, with her modesty, perceptiveness, and moral responsibility.”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “There’s nothing new about Dickens being able to create wonderful characters. The difference here is that while Harold Skimpole, Mr. Tulkinghorn, Krook, et al fizz with bright particularity, their job is to service the story…Bleak House represents the author at a perfectly poised late-middle moment in his extraordinary art.”

    Guardian (London)

  • “Dickens could not have performed better than [Simon Vance] does here. With a motley cast of characters to challenge the skill of any narrator, his brilliant dramatizations range from a homeless street urchin to an arrogant barrister, from a canny old windbag to a high-minded heroine who deserves the happy ending Dickens affords her. [Vance] is also persuasive as the indignant voice of the author himself, attacking both the injustice of the law and the cruel indifference of society. This may be one of the most Dickensian novels Dickens ever wrote. Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Ellie | 2/10/2014

    " Much as I loved the BBC series I couldn't finish the book. Not a fan of Dickens at all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Eluneds | 2/9/2014

    " It was a heart breaking, compulsive read of the social injustices in the class structures in mid 1800s England. It's incredibly well written with the subtle hints to the various secrets foreshadowed from the beginning. I particularly remember the heraldry details for Lady Dedlock's portrait, being lit diagonally from the left - written "sinister" implying illegitimacy in heraldry... brilliant. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rachel | 2/9/2014

    " GK Chesterton states this book "is not certainly Dicken's best book; but perhaps it is his best novel."(introduction to Bleak House) I was surprised. I started this while working on my Masters. I put it aside honestly thinking I may not get back to it. But I picked it back up and I am glad I did. Some may say Esther as a narrator is 'too good' or 'too simple' but I like how she made clear observations and stepped aside for the other characters. I thought this book was an interesting insight into the pointlessness of the legal proceedings at that time. The whole story (and characters) are holding their breath for when the suit finishes. Dickens had a lot of threads in this book (it is about 900 pages) but they are tied together sometimes in ways I could not have imagined. I waited for all the ends to be woven together and I was not disappointed. Some of the characters in the middle of the story are a bit washed out no personality but characters on the fringes more than make up for this. I enjoyed reading this classic although not my favorite I still recommend it for someone not afraid of it's length. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Randolph Carter | 2/6/2014

    " Dicken's best novel. Nice balance between his early humor and his late pessimism. Will destroy any lingering faith you have in the legal system. "

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