Bleak House: Esther’s Narrative

Chapter 17: “Esther’s Narrative”

Summary: They are told that Richard does not seem that dedicated or interested in his studies to be a surgeon. When they ask Richard about it he admits it is true and thinks maybe he’d like to be a lawyer more–yes, he’d definitely prefer to be a lawyer. Then Jarndyce tells Esther about how her aunt asked him to sponsor her and become her guardian and how he’d agreed and watched over her. Finally we see more of Woodcourt, and Esther gets some flowers from a “secret” admirer.

Reaction: Esther is so in love with Woodcourt. It’s cute how she’s afraid to admit her feelings aloud or even go to any extra lengths to describe her interactions with him. There is some really great writing in this book (of course). And I’m liking Richard less with every passing scene.

Prediction: I think that Ada should turn out to be a secret villain mastermind behind all sorts of nefarious deeds and will end up getting all the inheritance money for herself…but I don’t see that actually happening. She’s such a weak and annoying character.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Great writing that shows off really great characterization–in this case Esther, but with each character portrayed there is a completely different style. Dickens really knows what he’s doing.

Our Lesson: Even the dutiful girls can fall in love. I don’t see Esther doing anything rash because of it, and she certainly won’t drop any of her housekeeper tasks unless forced by Jarndyce, but the shy girls who think no one notices them do sometimes get noticed.


Bleak House: “Tom-All-Alone’s”

Chapter 16: “Tom-All-Alone’s”

Summary: My Lady is running all over the place. We see Jo again, who stays with all the bums in this rundown Tom-All-Alone’s place. A mysterious lady disguised as a servant has Jo show her every place the law writer had frequented. My Lady continues to be busy in London.

Reaction: Yay Jo is back! I like Jo. I’m not sure why. I guess I’m a sucker for cute, poor and ignorant kids–they are second only to a well-written villain. So, I enjoyed this chapter–and it was nice and mysterious too.

Prediction: I’m pretty sure My Lady was the mysterious woman. She’s hiding something, that’s for sure, and she was very curious about the death when she’d heard about it. Finally there’s mystery in this supposed mystery. Too bad the next chapter appears to be back to old Esther.

Why This Book Is a Classic: A Lady creeping around in disguise; the street urchin helping her out–I mean we’ve already seen disguises and helpful street urchins in Sherlock Holmes. That has to be an element of classic literature.

Our Lesson: If you’re going to disguise yourself and go creeping around the city, make sure to disguise your mannerisms as well. No one was convinced that the lady was a servant.

Bleak House: “Bell Yard”

Chapter 15: “Bell Yard”

Summary: Esther and co. are still in London. Man-child Skimpole comes for a visit and they all go see some orphans of a criminal, Coavinses. While there, they meet Gridley, who has his own inheritance suit going on in Chancery.

Reaction: There’s some more poverty to see–3 young children now taking care of themselves. I wonder what they’re going to do with these children now that they’ve found them?

Prediction: I can’t see them actually taking the children under their care. The pattern in this book seems to be meet an interesting character, spend some time together to form an opinion, move on, perhaps revisit them at a later point. Gridley, though, might adopt them.

Why This Book Is a Classic: Orphans. Of course orphans still appear in modern books all the time too (especially YA because the author can do more with the characters if the controlling parents aren’t in the picture). But in this one the orphans are taking care of themselves and other adults know about it and let it go on instead of making them social services’ problem.

Our Lesson: This is more of an English lesson, I think–but we see many contradictions here–childish, couldn’t-care-less Skimpole is compared to over-the-top, opinionated Boythorn (interesting that “boy” is in his name). Also the comparison between Jarndyce, who has a suit for thousands of pounds and is approaching it with a kind of mild annoyance, and Gridley, who has a suit for a few hundred pounds and is approaching it with fierce anger.

Bleak House: “Deportment”

Chapter 14: “Deportment”

Summary: Richard has gone off to be a surgeon, and Esther and Ada check in on the Jellybeans. The oldest Jellybean daughter is fed up with philanthropy and plans to secretly wed her dance teacher. This dance teacher, Prince, has a father who believes his deportment is more important than anything else. Then they all go to see that strange old woman, Mrs. Flite, who apparently lives in the same building the opium poisoning had been in. She’s doing well. She has a bird named Spinach. There is a second cryptic mention of Mr. Woodcourt.

Reaction: I kind of thought before that maybe the place that death had been in sounded familiar, but I was having a lot of trouble reading that section, so I missed some important details like that. Luckily I have been caught up. I love that all this lady’s birds are named after virtues and vices except the last one, Spinach. Maybe she thinks spinach is a vice (or a virtue?). Or maybe there’s another definition I don’t know about. Or it’s just another weird name in this weird name book. Luckily with all these weird names I don’t have too much trouble remembering who’s who.

Prediction: I’m still waiting for the mystery part to kick in. I’m sure it will have to do with this Woodcourt guy. I also think Esther is going to end up liking him (as much as she is capable–I think she’s always going to be more into duty and care of others than getting caught up in her own emotions).

Why This Book Is a Classic: Secret marriages always make a book more interesting–and this sort of marriage is only possible in a more classic time period, since now, at least in our society, parents don’t have any (official, at least) control over who their children marry.

Our Lesson: Just because you dress and act and move like a rich, privileged guy and hang out where other rich, privileged guys do, doesn’t mean you are one–especially if your wife dies working to support you and your son is likely to do the same. So get a job and act your station!

Workout Playlist: 2/26-3/3

That emergency playlist really worked out well. It brought me from the brink of a bad week (cake ball experiment for work and other things) to an acceptable one. So I’m going to keep it the same and I’ve marked those songs as special “Friday songs.” (When I was young my family used to have a dance party every Friday night we called Friday Songs–awesome memory.)

For Monday I have a new glute workout to try featured here at the Healthy Diva blog. Since I’m supposed to repeat it 3 times it comes back 3 times on the playlist (with different songs, same length). I also have a different playlist for Wednesday–more of the usual, working on those holds and all-around strength/endurance work.

Monday’s Playlist:

  1. Jumping Jacks–“Alpha Dog” Fall Out Boy
  2. Bi/Tricep Curls–“The ‘I’ in Lie” Patrick Stump
  3. Glutes 1–“Walking the Dog” Fun. (been waiting a while to use this song somewhere 🙂 )
  4. Box/Tricep Lifts–“Move” Thousand Foot Krutch
  5. Glutes 2–“You’re Crashing, But You’re No Wave” Fall Out Boy
  6. Crunches (I alternate these to the sides as well)–“Pain” Three Days Grace
  7. Glutes 3–“Build God, Then We’ll Talk” Panic! at the Disco
  8. Hold-Up Weights–“Dancing Through Sunday” AFI
  9. Plank–“I Am Trying Very Hard to Be Here” AFI
  10. Cool Down–“Soul Meets Body” Death Cab for Cutie

Wednesday’s Playlist:

  1. Jump (trying for better height)–“Jump Rope” Blue October
  2. 28-Lunge/Squat–“James Brown” Cage the Elephant
  3. Hold Up Weights–“Dancing Through Sunday” AFI
  4. Crunches–“Pain” Three Days Grace
  5. Wall Sit–“I Like It Rough” Lady Gaga
  6. Box/Push-Ups–“Oh, Stranger” The Raveonettes
  7. Leg Lifts–“Miss Murder” AFI
  8. Bi/Tricep Curls–“I Hate Everything about You” Three Days Grace
  9. Plank–“I Am Trying Very Hard to Be Here” AFI
  10. Machine Gun Up/Down–“Hey Mama” Black Eyed Peas
  11. Cool Down–“Soul Meets Body” Death Cab for Cutie

Oh! And I get to use my new special cross training shoes I got today at Bob Roncker’s big sale!

Good luck with all your own work, and here’s to a great week!

War and Peace Saturday: Chapters 29-35

War and Peace! Yeah!

Sorry, I’m just trying to pump myself up a little.

Actually, I’m finding W&P easy to get through. It’s not hard to understand. I’m not finding it extremely compelling either, though. I don’t mind reading it each day, but I don’t look forward to it like I did with Hamlet and the first part of “A Study in Scarlet.” I do like the characters, though, and that’s really what’s important to me when I read a book.

This part of the book is about the soldiers/officers in the war. It’s certainly not a gritty war depiction. It kind of reminds me of the bit I read of Catch-22 (I wince at mentioning this book for the second time in a post this month)–where the characters are goofing off instead of doing their jobs. At the end of this section, though, we seem to be getting into more of a combat situation. There was definitely more chaos going on.

The characters of interest have been P. Andrew and Nick Rostov, who had both been sent off. Both seem to be fairly respectable men, and I’m glad they’re not the goof-offs. We also checked in on the drunk/gambler Dolokhov who is trying to be reinstated, but I don’t like him. There’s also Denisov, and all I know about him is that he has a speech impediment, so when he talks I keep picturing the minor character (Kripke) in The Big Bang Theory.

So I’ll keep plugging away at this. War and Peace! Yeah!

Bleak House: “Esther’s Narrative”

Chapter 13: “Esther’s Narrative”

Summary: Back to Esther and wards–Richard decides he wants to be a surgeon. They go to London to see the sights and meet a surgeon, Mr. Badger (sounds like someone out of The Wind in the Willows). The whole time Esther is stalked by Guppy, who is looking sad a pathetic. Mr. Badger seems more in love with his wife’s two former husbands than her. Oh, and Richard and Ada publicly declare their love for each other.

Reaction: The chapter was much easier to read than the past ones. I didn’t really have any reaction to this chapter, though I don’t like Richard as much anymore for some reason after this “What should I do for a job?” “How about a surgeon?” “Oh yes! That’s it! A surgeon! I was born to be a surgeon!” I’m not sure why I like him less for not having any goal in life until someone gives one to him, but that’s the way it is.

Prediction: I feel like Esther is going to give in to Guppy out of pity for him and then be miserable–Oh, and then she’ll meet the real love of her life and start an affair and then Guppy will find out and spontaneously combust and Esther will feel so guilty she’ll kill herself…Maybe not…but it could happen, right?

Why This Book Is a Classic: Falling in love with your cousin is not only allowed but encouraged.

Our Lesson: If you marry someone with ex-wives/husbands, the whole situation will be so much more pleasant if you are as attracted to the ex’s as your husband/wife (except for when company comes because they will feel AWKWARD)