I tackled Bleak House with all the enthusiasm I could muster for a thousand page Victorian novel with Bleak in the title. I mean, it's Dickens, it has to be great right? Last year I fell in love with Great Expectations- I'm almost certain I passed that Victorian Lit class on sheer enthusiasm for Pip, Estelle, Miss Havisham and the whole gang. Actually, reading that book while living two blocks from Charles Dicken's home is what inspired this book project thing in the first place. So nobody can say I didn't give Bleak House my all!
I hadn't bargained for passages like these:
Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.
Okay A. that is the first page, and B. it goes on like this for 1000 pages. Well for at least 110 pages. That is how far I got before I finally threw in the towel.
I always feel guilty when I quite a book midway through, there's taunting voice in my head yelling "dummy!" and "quitter!" But at the same time, it's January. It's freezing outside and I'm sorry but life is just too short to spend the next month plowing through this depressing muck. So I give up, London is foggy, I GET IT.
So I'm on to happier, more interesting novels, specifically London Fields by Martin Amis. It's a little complicated but as Amazon puts it:
In this very British tale, femme fatale Nicola Six manipulates racist, sexist scoundrel Keith Talent and well-mannered, naive Guy Clinch as an omniscient narrator/novelist spies on the trio in order to develop his book.
So far I love it. But more on that later.... It was actually sunny today!
* PS: Thanks Andrea for letting me steal the picture!