Basically Bleak House is the story of a lawsuit and its effect on those who live in its periphery, but really it's a lesson in characterisation. There are 1088 pages in my copy of the book, and I swear a new character was introduced on each page. As a random selection, there's Tulkinghorn, the creepy menacing lawyer, there's the man-child Richard Skimpole who starts off as a delighful character, but whose childishness just makes him quite awful in the end and there's Richard Carstone who begins as a sunny care-free character but who pays the price for becoming with consumed with the law suit, or the 'family curse' as it's known. My favourites though are the Bagnets - Mrs Bagnet is an awesome mother-hen of a woman who bosses everyone around, and Mr Bagnet expresses his views solely through his wife -
Mr. George produces his present, which is greeted with admiring leapings and clappings by the young family, and with a species of reverential admiration by Mr. Bagnet. "Old girl," says Mr. Bagnet. "Tell him my opinion of it."
"Why, it's a wonder, George!" Mrs. Bagnet exclaims. "It's the beautifullest thing that ever was seen!"
"Good!" says Mr. Bagnet. "My opinion."
But as he also says -
"George," says Mr. Bagnet. "You know me. It's my old girl that advises. She has the head. But I never own to it before her. Discipline must be maintained."
I could go on about this book, but I won't. It was epic, and challenging, and hilarious, and hearbreaking and I'm glad I read it.