I read books like I eat meals: if I leave it unfinished, I leave it guiltily. While it hasn’t been a total chore to read th novel, thus far, I did manage to slip in several weeks of apathy here and there, justifying the research spent on various subjects (as ever, cameras, lenses, and gadgets) as being fruitful without counting the distractions and consequences. It’ll probably just take a little push over the weekend to get the novel done by Christmas — so not as fast as I’d hoped, but not as slow as I’d feared.
- Closing In
- Dutiful Friendship
- Esther’s Narrative
- The Track
- Springing a Mine
I’m almost content with the story as it’s unfolded so far; the surprises have been logical enough and keep the plot humming along. Let the ones who are lost stay lost, let the dead characters rest. That said, the eponymous Bleak House’s role has faded into the background, along with John Jarndyce and his fiancee; although there’s more than a tenth of the book left to go, I can’t see but that there’s much left for the story to wrap up with.
The book is nearly over and yet Dickens delights in changing my perceptions — there’s Mr. Bucket, who turns out to have unravelled the whole mess without having what could be called the greatest grasp of letters. He’s first painted as a blustering man of violence, then as a bumbling fool, all the while sorting things out in his street-savvy mind.
He is no great scribe, rather handling his pen like the pocket-staff he carries about with him always convenient to his grasp, and discourages correspondence with himself in others as being too artless and direct a way of doing delicate business.
I like having my character assumptions challenged; the judgement passed on certain lives with sketchy information makes for interesting I-told-you-sos as you learn more about them. How dim is Skimpole, really? How dutiful is Bucket? How does the secret link between George and the Dedlocks inject new perspective on both lives? It keeps me turning pages to see what’s next, and I’m starting to understand why so many folks were introduced so fast — it doesn’t make the first part of the book any less dense and unreadable, but hindsight makes it forgiveable. I will have to go back and skim together a chart of names and relationships, though; it’s amazing how well-connected everything is. Does it make the world of Bleak House more or less believeable when the veil is lifted from the dazzling web of links?