Friday, May 18, 2007

Bleak House

Victoria Day weekend marks the start of summer in Canada, with gardeners, campers and other ambitious folk chomping at the bit. They may have to chomp a bit longer as it is pouring rain and cold this Friday afternoon, with more of the same forecast for the weekend. English-style weather, which should cause a retreat indoors to the shelter of hot tea or perhaps a warming wee dram. Toast the memory of the (mostly) forgotten grand old dame, Queen Victoria, and crack open a tome.
For many readers the “Victorian novel” remains the ideal, with its intricate plots, social realism and satisfying length. Many of these novels have aged remarkably well, with young readers discovering them year by year. Recently PBS aired a big-budget TV miniseries version of Charles DickensBleak House, starring Gillian Anderson. I don’t have the patience to remember to watch regularly but I’ll borrow the Library's DVD copy one of these days.
But pick up the book. Bleak House may be the greatest of Victorian novels, an intruiging tale of justice delayed in the never-ending inheritance lawsuit of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce (the court case that spawned the expression “The law is an ass.”). Forget Jim Hole’s advice on low-maintenance perennials – get some Dickens or some George Eliot or a Bronte or two, perhaps a gin and tonic restorative, find a comfy chair on the deck and voila, you have an excellent, low-carbon, green-friendly, ultra low-maintenance summer project!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it in fact responsible librarianship to recommend drinking and reading? Not that I disagree with the idea, but did you pass it by the lawyers? The law may be an ass, but it still requires attention!

9:48 a.m.  

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