Friday, March 12, 2010

Reading Journal: Bleak House (Serial #2)

Per usual I'm behind on posting, and I'm actually in serial part 4--and stalled there at the moment. So I guess I'll work on catching up here. I've tried so hard to finish a Dickens' book, but I always seem to get stalled. I did not have this problem when I read Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White. And I started Armadale a few days ago, and I'm totally hooked. Dickens just can't hook me in the same way.

In the case of Bleak House, whenever Dickens' deviates from Ester's narrative I begin to lose interest and the story looses its forward momentum. The second serial part (chapters 5 through 7) spent two chapters in Ester's narrative. Chapter 7 was set at the Dedlock house again, but was interesting because it dealt with a ghost story.

Chapter 5: A Morning Adventure
  • Ester, Ada, Richard, and Miss Jellyby go on a morning walk and run into the crazy lady that sits in on Chancery Court every day. She insists that they visit to her room. She lives above a bizarre shop, the owner of which knew Tom Jarndyce (of the Jarndyce suit) and told the group the story of Tom's suicide.
  • It's also becoming clear that Richard and Ada have a thing for each other. Meaningful glances and all that.
  • They also learn that the old lady has a male neighbor who rarely leaves his apartment and is commonly believed to have sold himself to the devil.
Chapter 6: Quite at Home
  • The group travels to Bleak House, the home of Mr. Jarndyce. He sends a note to greet them along way begging them not to mention the kindness he has done for them and to greet him as an old friend.
  • Ester is given the housekeeper's keys. I suppose this was to be expected, as she is not a relation, but I still rather taken aback as she was told she was to be a companion to Ada, but I don't remember a mention of her being a housekeeper.
  • Ester gives a description of the house, and her first impression is that the name does not do it justice.
  • They meet Mr. Skimpole, who is described by Mr. Jarndyce as a child. He seem to dote on Mr. Skimpole and enjoy his company, but as far as I'm concerned it can never be good when a man will not own up to his responsibilities just because he wants to be able to do whatever he wants to do in that moment.
  • And I was right about Mr. Skimpole who tricks Richard and Ester out of thirty pounds, an amount I understand to be significant to people of their means. Even Mr. Jarndyce was upset when he found out.
Chapter 7: The Ghost's Walk
  • This chapter takes us back to the Dedlock's home Chesney Wold in Lincolnshire. The Dedlocks are away in Paris, but the housekeeper's grandson and attorney's known to the Dedlock's attorney Mr. Tulkinghorn are given a tour of the house.
  • Ms. Rouncewell relates the story of a previous tenant during the King Charles era. The wife and husband disagreed who should be ruling England, and one day his actions led to her becoming crippled. She would walk back and forth on the walkway using the stone balustrade. One day she fell there and proclaimed that she would walk there even in death until the house is taken down in shame.
  • The walkway is now known as The Ghost's Walk as her footsteps can be heard and, as Mrs. Rouncewell says, "must be heard".


Rachael said...

keep reading, keep blogging...i believe in you!

Erin in Boston said...

Interesting that you call the lady that Ester and Ada meet as crazy, because in the PBS production she isn't crazy at all, actually pretty lovable. The PBS production is actually a great one, so once you finish the book you should rent the movie.