Whew! Well, really, what else can you say after reading a 360,947-word book in a little over a month?
To be clear, I'm a slow reader, but that has more to do with me reading carefully than any lack of intellect (or so I'm fond of telling myself). Nevertheless, I was mentally exhausted by the time I came within 100 pages of Bleak House's conclusion. As much as I was still interested in the story, and as much as I was surprised by some of the twists and turns it took, I was ready for it to finish long before it did. I think, however, this feeling had something to do with reading it all in one go, as opposed to the way it was originally presented.
Between March 1852 and September 1853, Bleak House was published as a serialization. Its 20 sections appeared once a month for nineteen months, with the last issue a double. The first edition of the single book form didn't appear until late 1853, after the serials had made the rounds. It's no wonder people are intimidated by Dickens, and no wonder I felt worn down by the scope of the novel.
The book's first audience would have spent a year and a half on the story, rather than a few weeks. In retrospect, I think the novel might be more enjoyable if spread out more. There are so many characters so interconnected, it's overwhelming to force them all through your consciousness so quickly.
With more time, the reader can become more invested in each of the various plot lines. It could even add some additional surprise in places, as small details are forgotten until their importance is brought out. Like watching a favorite TV series, the reader can become engrossed in the story, but still take a breather between episodes. Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing out that Dickens did not conceive the story in a piecemeal fashion, but as a coherent whole.