I can vouch for Bleak House and The Count of Monte Christo.

BH is a thicker read, in more than one way, than David Copperfield, but I argue its lessons and view into the soul of Charles Dickens are deeper. The experience of Esther Summerson who slips from the low social rung of being a plain, poor girl to the even lower spot of an adult orphan disfigured by smallpox and then experiences not only a continued acceptance from her friends, a worthy suitor and protectors, but also continues to embrace herself and consider herself worthy when the entire value of a woman was her beauty and family connections is a beacon of non-misogyny from the 19th century: a rare thing. The Jarndyce v Jarndyce trial takes up too many pages, but Dickens’ indictment of courts, endless lawyering and individuals greedy (and needy) for their share of an inheritance is withering. The plaintiffs receive no redress but insanity from the process, and that lesson continues to be timely.

TCOMC is long (I like big books and I cannot lie!) and nearly the entire middle when Edmond Dantes is imprisoned can be skimmed, but TCOMC is a tale of revenge that I’ve never seen the likes of before or since. And it’s not simple revenge. The book lasts long enough to pose the question–at what point does your obsession with punishment of those who have wronged you become punishment of yourself?

Happy reading.