Perhaps the finest novel of 19th-century England, Bleak House embodies artful narrative, an engaging cast of characters, biting satire, and a detailed depiction of Victorian society. At the height of his creative power in this great work, Dickens pursues two great themes: the murky institutional fog that darkens and cripples all of England, symbolized by the endless litigation of the Jarndyce vs. Jarnddyce case in the High Court of Chancery; the familiar Dickens concern with the capricious treatment and maltreatment of children as exemplified by the pitiful castoff Jo, and the overindulged Harold Skimpole.
The story that carries these two themes takes the form of a compelling mystery, a romantic tangle of trails followed by three vivid sleuths: the opportunistic Guppy, the sinister Tulkinghorn and the benevolent Bucket. Only in the hands of Dickens does artfully constructed mystery so intensify and illuminate stringent social commentary. Bleak House is a consummate achievement in the career of a truly great novelist.