Bleak House has been defeating me for 20 years now. I guess I was spoiled by the amazing television version with Diana Rigg and Denholm Elliot:
I think it was on in the same amazing year that gave us Twin Peaks, GBH, and, er, Star Trek TNG Season 2. But I remember how great it was.
So, I remember how odd I found trying the read the actual book before going to University, how I abandoned reading it at university, and how I've picked it up ever since, read those first few pages about fog, and then put it sadly down. I've even bought repeated copies, as though somehow owning more and more would allow me to read it by osmosis. They all remained unread.
Every time I picked up another book, and I'm not kidding, I've always felt that tiny guilt that I wasn't finally getting on with Bleak House. I've not had this problem with other Dickens books - but there's something about this one. Perhaps it's that the title and the atmosphere are matched to a plot that (for all it's grubby tangles) is really quite simple.
Earlier this year, I tried again. I got quite far, then suddenly found myself reading half a dozen Perry Masons and thinking "Perry would have solved Jarndyce and Jarndyce in an hour and then gone out for cocktails and dancing with Lady Deadlock." Ever since, I've picked it up, got a little further, and stopped.
Finally, wonderfully, I found this:
I'm not sure entirely what to think. It's kind of cheating, especially when poor Hugh Dickinson is doing so much work (he really do do the police in different voices, he do). It's about 30 hours long, and I dread to think how long it took to record. But it means I'm whipping through it.
I am finally going to finish Bleak House.