This is Week 2 of the Bleak House Readalong. I’m slightly ahead of the readalong schedule this week, but will keep this post restricted to chapters 8-13.
*If you haven’t read the book yet, you might encounter some spoilers.*
13 chapters into the book now and it still feels that not much has actually happened yet; Dickens is still bringing in new characters and new storylines. I’m enjoying the chapters narrated by Esther the most as I’m finding the other chapters a bit harder to follow.
In this week’s installments, Esther receives a marriage proposal, Richard tries to choose a profession, and a law-copier called Nemo is found dead from a suspected opium overdose. We meet Mrs Pardiggle who, like Mrs Jellyby, is supposed to be a ‘philanthropist’, but whereas Mrs Jellyby neglects her children, Mrs Pardiggle brings her five sons with her everywhere she goes and forces them to invest in charities that they are too young to know anything about.
We also meet a drunken brickmaker and his wife Jenny, who has a black eye and is nursing a sick baby. Other new characters include Mr Boythorn, an old friend of Mr Jarndyce’s who visits Bleak House, a ‘law-stationer’ called Mr Snagsby, and Jo, a homeless crossing-sweeper.
It will be interesting to see how Dickens is going to weave all these storylines and characters together. A lot of things don’t make much sense at the moment, but I’m hoping that everything will start to become clearer soon. I’m enjoying the book more than I was last week, though – and Esther isn’t annoying me as much now.
For more opinions on this week’s installments, see the list of participants at The Zen Leaf.