Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Bleak Along - Shoes are for the weak

WARNING: Rambly readalong post herein.

Not only is it time for our Bleak Along posts, but I've actually finished the reading.

First, a couple notes on last week's reading:

1) You guys were right about Esther. Her refusal of Guppy's proposal and subsequent befuddlement at her emotional response was hilarious and endearing like woah. (Though she really won me over in chapter 14 by referring to her face in the third person. Approved.)


Onward! This week we're talking about chapters 12-21. This section was a roller coaster of emotions, for me.

If "happy banana" were "BOYTHORN!" and "sad banana" were
"I'm Dickens and I'm more like those characters I write as tediously loquacious
than I'd care to admit." *squints at Mr Chadband*

Overall, though, I'm thoroughly sucked in. I'm the type to make exclamations while reading, mainly to feel like I'm including Neil in the experience (lucky man), and my most common exclamation in this section has been "Fucking Richard." At least Skimpole's self aware, albeit in a sociopathic kind of way. 

Also a result of this section: I'm completely obsessed with Lady Dedlock. What, in fact, is her deal? Questions for you regarding Lady D:

  • She's definitely Esther's aunt, right?
  • And the sister Jarndyce was closer to than he was to Lady Dedlock was Esther's mom?
  • Who was Nemo and how was he related to Lady D? Was he Esther's father?
  • Did she know who Esther was on sight? (Yes.)
  • Why is she so enamoured with her pretty maid? Just ... face? She has a really nice face?
  • In those third person chapters, who is narrating to us? Who is calling Lady D "My Lady"?

I love that this mystery is really just a question of who Esther's parents were, but somehow Dickens has managed to wind up the tension to the point where I freaked RIGHT. OUT. when Esther heard Lady D's voice behind her (when they took shelter from that storm). The glory of that scene's conclusion, by the by, and the image of Hortense tromping off barefoot through the blood of her enemies rain-soaked grass carried me through the third-person chapters that followed. 

Hortense, though, you guys. When she was first introduced, there was a note attached to her name that might have been (probably was) a major spoiler, so that's colouring my view of her slightly. She is bad as ass, though, right? Super suspicious and bad as ass.

Dickens really breaks out the horrifically tragic children in this section: Peepy, whose continued peace of mind was conditional on petting Esther's and Caddy's faces. And Charley, with her over-sized bonnet, working so hard for her younger siblings. And Jo, having to move on though he's been moving on since he was BORN AND GODDAMMIT.

This post is getting long and has no logic to it, but there's just so much. Parting thoughts:

  • Guppy got really creepy, really fast.
  • Mr. Badger is way more in love with Mrs. Badger's previous two husbands than he is with Mrs. Badger.
  • Caddy's dancing teacher is named Mr. Prince Turveydrop I mean.
  • "It was so pretty to have her clinging to me in that way, hiding her face."
    • Esther finds Prince Turveydrop appealing because he is fair and feminine.
  • Esther's also maybe interested in Mr. Woodcourt but let's not talk about that.
  • Why is Flite getting paid off?
  • Good God, the names of her birds. That is some easterly shit.
  • "Mr Quale asked Ada and me, not inaudibly, whether [Mr Gusher] was not a great creature - which he certainly was, flabbily speaking."

I just, that's it for now. Thank you, Alice, for hosting us and, most importantly, bringing Boythorn into our lives.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Bleak Along - There are no dragons in this story, are there?

We made it; it's time. Today marks the first post in our wonderful Alice's Bleak House Readalong. We're doing away with introductions (by this time I know you guys like the back of my ha-OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT) and discussing chapters 1 through 11. So, to that end,

*jumps through your window*

would you like to talk about Bleak House? I've only read through the end of chapter 6 (HAHA THIS IS GOING SO WELL), but I hope to distract you with GIFs and quips like ... nope, I just looked through my notes and there's no quippy material there. It'll have to be the GIFs, then. 

Who's worried? I'm not worried.

I bought the Penguin Classics clothbound edition, 

because pretty,

and I was a bit daunted at the beginning, because there were thirteen endnotes on the first page of the first chapter. That is too many. We're just talking about fog. I am concerned. But I'm finding myself mainly ignoring these unless I'm actually confused about something. Plenty of helpful notes on Chancery, for example. 

But the story. We hear about the fog; we read what's got to be one of the first instances of the phrase "blew his brains out" (pg 16 in my edition); Mr. Sladdery the librarian waxes Gilbert and Sullivanesque, repeating "of my high connexion, sir," with all the grace of a modern major general (pg 25); and finally we come to Esther's narrative. 

Oh, Esther. You with your Jane Eyre backstory and your complete lack of guts. I am not particularly fond, you guys. Ada's a bit nothing, too. The Jellyby ladies, at least, have personalities  Mrs. with her passion for Africa and disinterest in family, Miss with her unparalleled expression of teenage angst ("I wish Africa was dead").

I have an urge to pat her on the head.

It's taking me a bit to get into the story. I mean, when we get to Bleak House, Dickens walks us through what feels like every room of the house, describing every piece of furniture in every room. I mean, I just. It's getting better, though. We're getting to the characters now. For example John Jarndyce and his blame-taking east wind (anyone else go immediately to "His Last Vow" [Sherlock season finale] with that one? Cry a little, maybe? Search for a GIF of John saying "There's an east wind coming" for half an hour and break your heart all over again?

Dammit, self).

So, higher hopes for next week, in which I will catch up with you guys if it's the last thing I do. I am SO HAPPY to be reading along with you lovely internet dwellers again. Thanks for bringing us together, Alice.