Bleak House cover

Bleak House

Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

1. Chapter 00
2. Chapter 01
3. Chapter 02
4. Chapter 03
5. Chapter 04
6. Chapter 05
7. Chapter 06
8. Chapter 07
9. Chapter 08
10. Chapter 09
11. Chapter 10
12. Chapter 11
13. Chapter 12
14. Chapter 13
15. Chapter 14
16. Chapter 15
17. Chapter 16
18. Chapter 17
19. Chapter 18
20. Chapter 19
21. Chapter 20
22. Chapter 21
23. Chapter 22
24. Chapter 23
25. Chapter 24
26. Chapter 25
27. Chapter 26
28. Chapter 27
29. Chapter 28
30. Chapter 29
31. Chapter 30
32. Chapter 31
33. Chapter 32
34. Chapter 33
35. Chapter 34
36. Chapter 35
37. Chapter 36
38. Chapter 37
39. Chapter 38
40. Chapter 39
41. Chapter 40
42. Chapter 41
43. Chapter 42
44. Chapter 43
45. Chapter 44
46. Chapter 45
47. Chapter 46
48. Chapter 47
49. Chapter 48
50. Chapter 49
51. Chapter 50
52. Chapter 51
53. Chapter 52
54. Chapter 53
55. Chapter 54
56. Chapter 55
57. Chapter 56
58. Chapter 57
59. Chapter 58
60. Chapter 59
61. Chapter 60
62. Chapter 61
63. Chapter 62
64. Chapter 63
65. Chapter 64
66. Chapter 65
67. Chapter 66
68. Chapter 67

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Over twenty consecutive months, Charles Dickens enthralled readers with his monthly installments of the novel Bleak House, a complex and compelling portrayal of the English judicial system. Serialized in his own magazine, Household Words, between 1852 and 1853, the book is deemed to be his finest work and is his ninth novel. Using an innovative literary technique known as “free indirect discourse,” where the narrator himself speaks through the medium of one of his main characters, Dickens uses the heroine Esther Summerson and an unidentified narrator as the vehicle for his story. Esther Summerson is a young woman who is brought up under mysterious circumstances by several people, including an aunt who hates her, a Chancery lawyer and finally another lawyer John Jarndyce, a wealthy, extremely kind and compassionate man. After completing her education, she moves into the Jarndyce residence, appropriately named Bleak House, where two other wards of his also live. Secrets begin to tumble out of many cupboards as one of the wards, Richard Carstone, begins investigating a century old case, Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce. It concerns a complicated and huge inheritance case which has been going on for generations. In fact, the phrase “jarndyce and jarndyce” has entered the English language as a metaphor for interminable court proceedings. Almost all the major characters in the book are connected in some way to this case. There are plenty of wonderfully named, extremely memorable characters in the convoluted structure of plots and subplots, masterfully constructed by a writer working at his peak. Many of them are based on real people Dickens knew while the accounts of the legal system are based on his real-life experiences as a court clerk. The portraits of scheming lawyers like Mr. Tulkington and the merciless moneylender Grandfather Smallweed and an almost bewildering host of minor characters make Bleak House one of the most interesting and entertaining novels. Dickens' magnum opus focuses extensively on the ills of the English judicial system, but it is also a brilliant detective story. Inspector Bucket, a police detective, is put in charge of the murder of Mr. Tulkington and this leads to the unraveling of a deep and secret plot. A mysterious note written by a dead man known only as “Nemo,” an aristocratic lady with secrets of her own, her suspicious husband, her disappearance and Esther's romance with a country doctor are some of the elements that make up the sweeping panorama of Bleak House. Whether you're reading it for the first time, or it's an old favorite, Bleak House is indeed an invaluable addition to your bookshelf.


Biased Perspective

- Really well read...

Mil Nicholson is amazing but the book is very long and difficult to follow if listening in the car every so often. I did not enjoy the story but that is not what these reviews should be about. The reader is truly wonderful!

Ed B

- Excellent

Reading by Mil Nicholson was wonderful. I’m amazed she could keep so many voices straight.

Mil Nicholson's narration is pure gold!


- Loved It!

Great voices and passion.


- February 10, 2016

Wonderful! That's just all I have to say.

William L.

- Bleak House

Mil Nicholson brings this fantastic story to life. A great story deserves a great reader.


- Amazing reading!

Stupendous! Mil Nicholson brings Dickens' genius to life. No small feat.(Chapter 21 is especially brilliant.) Thank you so much.


- Bleak House

What a wonderful reader Mil Nicholson is! The perfect voice for this perfect novel.


- Bleak House

Excellent reading by Mil Nicholson