25 Greatest Law Novels Ever: 3. Bleak House
3. Bleak House
by Charles Dickens (1852)
In the forefront of this Dickens classic is the story of Esther Summerson, who lives at Bleak House oblivious to the fact that she is the illegitimate child of Lady Dedlock. There is a murder, of course, and Lady Dedlock is suspected. But lawyers are not attracted to Bleak House for the whodunit. What they love is Dickens’ ongoing account of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, an estate case that drags from generation to generation until the money runs out. Dickens hits a nerve in his classic description of the underlying cynicism that too often drives litigation.
Note: Dickens based Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, at least the cynicism behind it, on his own litigation against publishers who turned out unauthorized copies of his immensely popular A Christmas Carol.