As I said elsewhere, I had very mixed feeling about the novel. I disliked most of the characters, especially Esther. The only ones at all interesting to me were, of course Jo, Phil (Mr. George's employee), Mrs. Bagnet (Mr. B somewhat) and Bucket. Mr. Snagsby became more interesting as the novel wore on and I was glad of his frequent appearances. The rest for me were so totally one dimensional that they quickly became boring. John Jarndyce...I expected to like him from his introduction passage mentioned by Hamlet , but I quite soon tired of his fecklessness. Even though he did make something of himself I can't even say I liked Mr. Guppy (Hamlet).
Fantasyfan is right on about Esther and Jarndyce: they should spend eternity together admiring one another. Well, that's not quite what she said. The Jellybys and the Smallweeds, were they supposed to add some humor? Old Mr. Smallweek being constantly "shaken up", throwing things at his senile wife?
What kept me going (other than the thought I was missing something given Dickens' lofty reputation) was his descriptions of 19th Century London. And I have to say Dickens is a pro at characterization, just that I don't find his characters sympathetic.
Having spent my working years around lawyers, judges, courts, etc., I did find some of Dickens' complaints valid, but I also knew a good many that were anything but his dour portayals of them and that spent the major part of their careers helping the underpriviledged. Writing this last sentence it just came to me...my major complaint against Dickens is his total lack of balance.
I probably did miss something because, I'm embarrassed to say, I didn't catch the dual narrative structure until fantasyfan mentioned it.
Even considering the serialization and need for expansion, I probably would have liked it better if it was a good deal shorter.
I can't say I found the ending strange...I was just glad it ended!