Readalong: Bleak House, instalment 7, ch20-22

A new month has dawned, opening up the next chunk of Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. This seventh instalment was originally published in September 1852, and consists of Chapters 20 to 22.

Dickens has painted a haunting picture of life at the bottom end of London society. I find myself dwelling on the sad existence of poor little crossing-sweeper Jo: illiterate, alone, persecuted by the police, and living in slum conditions that we would now describe as “Dickensian”.

Plotwise, I’m hoping that this month’s instalment will give more glancing insights into the mysterious Lady Dedlock. Why does she seem familiar to both Esther (in the flesh) and Mr Guppy (via her portrait, back in an early chapter of the book)? We have an increasing bank of hints and clues, and I’m keen to see how it all pans out. Still, it’s early days, so the big reveal may take some time — by the end of this month’s instalment, we’ll have read only a third of the book.

For our previous discussions on Bleak House, see:

Please read along with us, and let us know what you think of the book. You can download the full text of Bleak House from Project Gutenberg and Standard Ebooks, and audiobook versions are available from LibriVox.

Hi :slight_smile:

Just finished reading this instalment.
(I actually read chapter 1 to 22 inclusively, trying to catch up and join in… – so I’ll allow myself to include general comments about the whole thing as well as specifics about 20 to 22, if I may. (You can’t stop me anyways. Ha! ha!))

These three last chapters were really my favorites. All those characters now getting intertwined and connections slowly (but surely) are appearing. Paths are crossing…
And the gloom of life… Mud and diseases… dead babies and starved dirty kids, what a wonderful era it must have been. – Too bad I missed it.

As always (or even to the previous chapters, I won’t pretend I know him this much), Dickens is absolutely great in his descriptions (people as much as places) ; it is not quite poetic, I wouldn’t know what to call it, but there is something there…

Beside that, I don’t know if people were really that emotional back then, but it seems to be standard to come close to passing out (or throwing up) from overwhelming emotional surges most of the day… (lol)
Good thing that the richest still only drove horses.

I saw your socks from across the street, Milady. You truly have the most amazing socks I’ve ever seen. I know, I know, we’ve never spoken before, but… marry me? OooOOoohh pleeease…

Interesting read. – Enjoyable, I should say. And yes, Astrid, it is… getting mysterious.

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It’s great to hear that you’re enjoying Bleak House! I’m slightly surprised at how engaging a read it is – somehow I expected it to be more turgid, but instead it is full of drama and melodrama, with lots of human insight, and it fairly gallops along.

I was pleased to see the appearance in Chapter 22 of Inspector Bucket, whom I have seen described as the first major police detective in literature. It will be interesting to see how his role develops.

All the best,