Richard Carstone and Ada Clare are wards of the court in the interminable case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, which has gone on for so long that it has become a subject of mirth in legal circles and a source of great profit to those professionally engaged in it. The pair fall in love and marry, but the weak and feckless Richard slowly comes under the spell of the promised riches of the legal dispute. Jarndyce and Jarndyce has also drawn in a diverse array of other characters, from baronets to crossing-sweepers, as well as one of the novel’s narrators, the moralistic Esther Summerson. Yet, while the lawsuit drags ever onwards, greater mysteries unfold, including murder, blackmail and love.
Dominated by the oppressive force of Chancery, and considered by many to be both Dickens’ greatest work and the finest novel of the Victorian age, Bleak House is a dark, complex and intricately plotted mystery that culminates in one of the great chases of the detective genre.