My favourite Dickens novel (so far)

Of the Dickens novels I’ve read, Bleak House is my favourite. While there’s definitely too many people in it, I forgive them as they all have excellent names. Sir and Lady Dedlock are one of the parties stuck within the legal mess, or Jarndyce vs Jarndyce as we know it, Mr Krook is not honest, and Miss Flite keeps birds. There’s an inspector Bucket, Mr Tulkinghorn, Mr Smallweed, Mr Guppy, Mrs Pardiggle, Mr Skimpole, the Jellybys, the Woodcourts and the Turveydrops. I can safely say I’ve never met anyone with any of those names, more is the pity.

On top of legal wrangles, it also contains orphans, miserable childhoods, secret children, con artists, loads of unrequited love (always a winner in my book), requited love, consumption, smallpox, spontaneous human combustion, and dying of sadness and exposure outside cemetery gates (which is pretty considerate, and convenient.)

As a teenager I wanted to be Esther Summerson, I kind of still do. She is wise and straight forward. She is charitable. She marries a handsome, wise and charitable doctor even after her face is marked by smallpox. What more can a girl ask for? If a man can handle facial pock marks, stretch marks will be a breeze.


The horrible Mr Smallweed (no one nice ever had that name) being taken everywhere in his chair by his granddaughter.


Richard Carstone slowly dying in a melodramatic fashion on a chaise lounge, as was the style at the time.


The Court of Chancery.


What was left of Mr Krook after he combusted. Awesome.

There is a BBC adaptation of ‘Bleak House’ that I loved, which for someone as protective over the is book as I am, that’s saying something. There’s more good actors in it than you can shake a sheaf of musty legal documents at, and moves faster and cleaner than the book, without losing the delightful absurdity or complicated relationships.