Jarndyce vs Jarndyce has been making its way through Chancery Court for decades, whole herds of attorneys have made their careers shepherding this case with its many tentacles through the halls of justice. Dickens worked for a time as a law clerk and later had his days in court on copyright law for his books. He skewers the British legal system with gusto in this story chock full of subplots and amusements. This is Charles Dickens at his best, blending humor, betrayal, social commentary, and a rollicking good story. I don’t want to give away the plot, but it is a grand story worthy of the master.— Deon Stonehouse
Esther Summerson describes her childhood and says she is leaving for the home of a new guardian, Mr. Jarndyce, along with Ada Clare and Richard Carstone. On the way to the home, called Bleak House, they stop overnight at the Jellybys' chaotic home. When they finally reach Bleak House, they meet Mr. Jarndyce and settle in. They meet Mr. Skimpole, a man who acts like a child. The narrator describes a ghost that lurks around Chesney Wold, the home of Lady and Sir Leicester Dedlock. Esther meets the overbearing charity worker Mrs. Pardiggle, who introduces her to a poor brickmaker's wife named Jenny, whose baby is ill. Esther says she is sure that Ada and Richard are falling in love. She meets Mr. Boythorn, as well as Mr. Guppy, who proposes marriage. Esther refuses him.