Tuesday 18 March 2014

"What happiness was ours that day, what joy, what rest, what hope, what gratitude, what bliss!"

Before I get to talking about this last bit of Bleak House, I just want to take a second to state the incredible fact that I've finished a Dickens book. That I, who had previously sworn off Dickensian things, who had probably said, more than once, I HATE DICKENS, have actually finished one of his novels. And I didn't hate it. In fact, I kind of loved it. Personal growth, I am doing it!
But, of course, credit where credit's due- Alice thank you for making encouraging me to read this by having a readalong because DAMN, you know I can't say no to one of your readalongs. And long may that continue.

Right, now to the book. The nitty and indeed the gritty. Last week we left Lady Dedlock running away from her loving husband because of stupid patriarchal societal values, and that all escalated a bit quickly and suddenly she was dead. If we may just take a second for the massive amounts of mourning that Esther refuses to speak of...
Lady Dedlock may have been a terrible mother, she may have even been a terrible wife in the end, but in my heart of hearts, I just wanted her to come back home to Sir Leicester and see that he loved her desperately and then be reunited with Esther and have her live next door to them and be friends and it all to be lovely. Only, of course, this is Dickens, and ALSO even if Lady Dedlock had come home she would never have been able to publicly acknowledge Esther as her daughter and just, everything is the worst in that situation.

Not the worst: Mr Bucket. Even though I was slightly sad that he wasn't sadder that he was mean to Jo, I just love everything else about him. He's so... Detectivey! And hot. He's definitely hot in my brain, which is important to know. And he has got Skimpole's (ah, the completely non-remorseful Skimpole) number:
"Whenever a person proclaims to you 'In worldly matters I'm a child', you consider that that person is only a-crying off from being held accountable and that you have got that person's number, and it's Number One."
And and and he thinks Esther is a pattern and he just accurately perceives all of the people because of his amazing detective skills.
 Oh yeah.
So Esther's pretty awesome.
"I was frightened when I saw them all about me, but I remembered that before I fainted, I tried very hard not to do it; and that was some little comfort."
And so incredibly hot for Ada.
"When they were gone out, I drew my arm round her waist. She put her left hand in mine."
I'm not sure I'll ever forgive this book for not marrying Esther and Ada to each other, but I'm still glad that Esther got her conventional happy ending with a dude (aw, but Woodcourt is lovely, though. Albeit maybe a tiny bit in love with Richard). Just as a slight negating argument to everything I've been saying for... 7 (?) weeks,  when Esther thinks she shouldn't have certain feelings because she doesn't deserve the thing, she talks around them. So, whilst she talks about Ada and how much she loves her A LOT, she talks around the way she feels about Woodcourt, so maybe she thinks she deserves Ada's friendship, but nobody's love.

But, then again,
"I call him my Richard! But he says that he has two mamas, and I am one."
Richard has two mommies? REALLY, DICKENS?!

There's so much more to talk about, I know (was anyone sad when Richard Snr died? Anyone?) but I'm going to rely on all of you to discuss it, because I really just want to talk Dickens for a second. Mainly- how can one person be so good at writing? Like, seriously. It's not just that he puts sentences together really well (but he definitely does) or that he can set scenes so awesomely, but just his characters, man- there isn't one who feels like filler, and even though all of them are created to move the plot along, they each feel like a fully formed person all by themselves. It's AMAZING, and I can't even deal with the fact that Esther wasn't a real life person who lived and breathed at some point in history. Just, wow.

So basically, I'm already plotting which Dickens to read next (and also... WHICH Dickens should I read next?) I'm so happy to have gotten over my irrational fear, and I'm really sad this readalong is over. WHO WILL EXPLAIN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TURVEYDROP AND TULKINGHORN TO ME NOW?! I need you guys. 


  1. "and I can't even deal with the fact that Esther wasn't a real life person who lived and breathed at some point in history."

    RIGHT? Agh it's so like Harry Potter where you love these people with ACTUAL PEOPLE-LOVE and it's so disconcerting to be like "But...not real."

    This is the problem with BH, because it's the BEST of all the Dickens. In terms of complexity and advanced Dickensry, Our Mutual Friend is pretty good, but part of it INFURIATES me. I found Pickwick Papers hilarious, but it's much more episodic and less plot-driven. Of his better-known novels, I haven't read TOTC, Little Dorrit or David Copperfield. They're probs all pretty good.

    BUCKET IS THE GREATEST. 19th century, you were so good at detective people.

    Thanks for participating in this. I know it was a long road. But GOOD JOB FINISHING.

    1. SO like Harry Potter. Except that those people ARE real and one day an owl will come to me with a letter that says 'apologies for our administrative error, but a place at Hogwarts that should have been yours aged 11 was never offered to you, HOWEVER would you like to be a student here now?' At which point I will be OFF.
      (Side note: How cool is it going to be when our [possible] kids think that maybe they're going to get a letter to Hogwarts when they're 11 which we never got because we were older than that when we read them? SO COOL, is how cool.)

      Anyway, back to THIS year's readalong... Yes. Bleak House was kind of amazing and I kind of loved the majority of it (could have done without Guppy, if I'm honest) and I'm now fairrrrrly convinced that I might sort of like Dickens? I definitely like Bleak House (obvs) but what if it's a fluke?! I want to read whichever Dickens Melly reads in Gone With The Wind when the menfolk are out at their KKK meeting... seems like it was distracting enough (was it David Copperfield? I feel like it was David Copperfield.) But anyway, yes. More Dickens, probably.

      The 19th Century was SO good at detective people!! Sherlock Holmes and Bucket and... All of Wilkie's people who definitely have names I can't remember.

    2. /how sad will it be for our [possible] future kids when they read 11 and do NOT get a letter from Hogwarts. Perhaps we were spared a lot of disappointement

  2. I ENJOYED A TALE OF TWO CITIES and it gave me much feels, and while both the main characters in Great Expectations are sort of dill-holes, all the peripheral characters are FANTASTIC. So.

    RICHARD HAS TWO MOMMIES. We all get your gay subtext, Charles.

    1. Maybe we should do a TOTC readalong next year....

    2. Maybe we should do a MIDDLEMARCH readalong because I tried to read that and I'm not sure I can do it on my own. I think I might be able to do Dickens alone now... (A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations. Noted.)

    3. I would be down for EITHER of these. P.S. Angel told me yesterday that the plot of The Dark Knight Rises is essentially A Tale of Two Cities, and so now I have more interest in reading it.

    4. Whaaaaaaaat?! But WHAT?! Now I really really have to read A Tale of Two Cities (and watch The Dark Knight Rises again, natch.)

  3. I think we should all get a cookie or something for making it through this. But yay for liking it!!

    Richard has two mommies. I feel like that was probably as close as Dickens could get to writing Esther and Ada getting together.

    1. We SHOULD get a cookie. I just had some mini eggs and I feel pretty good about myself, so that's pretty much good enough for me!

      I really want it to have been on Dickens's mind that he wanted Ada and Esther to be together but couldn't do it and so had them raise a child together. I mean... I don't know how much of that is like, putting modern enlightenment into his brain, but I still want to believe it so I shall!

  4. Bless you for addressing the WONDER that is Bucket, because I got distracted by things and forgot to further express my undying love for him. I'm also a little disappointed by his attitude about Jo (it being, really, his only fault as far as I'm concerned), but he's not really a sentimental man. And he explained it pretty matter-of-factly: The boy was blabbing all over town about things and I didn't think you dear women should be sheltering a vagabond, so out he went!

    I've been picture George as handsome this whole time but not Bucket. Does Bucket look like Johnny Depp? BRB, rereading all Bucket's chapters.

    Laura, WE FINISHED A DICKENS. *across-the-pond high-five with chest-bump*

    1. I don't know that Bucket is ACTUALLY super handsome, but in my brain he's just so hot because I love him so much? That's a point of view that makes sense, isn't it? I just LOVE HIM, Megs. Love. Him. (Sorry, Mrs Bucket).

      WE SO FINISHED A DICKENS. Aren't we incredible, and don't our arms and chests stretch so far?!

  5. I really need to read another Dickens novel, because everytime I go to comment on a Dickens novel post, I have only these three that I can comment on: Bleak House (awesome!), Our Mutual Friend (awesome! even though problematic!), and David Copperfield (hated!). I think Great Expectations is the one I want to read next, but the above comments about Tale of Two Cities are intriguing.

  6. Oliver Twist? We could have a #Twistalong! (I'll shoot anyone who takes that hashtag away from me).

    But yes, Dickens is fantastic, isn't he? His characters are THE best and he's just so damn funny. I've loved reading your notes on this one. Too bad we can't be in a face to face book club together. We could meet at IKEA. LOL!

  7. Can't remember who was Turveydrop and who was Tulkinghorn but I can remember that Bleak House was my favourite Dickens, so I am v. happy you completed and enjoyed it :D

    I typed/said this with a mouth full of nutella, obvs.