Bleak House isn't even an unpleasant place. It's not the big, depressing manor; it's the cosy domicile of the kindly Mr. Jarndyce. It could not be less dire.
The book is no bleaker than any other Dickens. Yes, little Joe dies, but so did young Paul Dombey, and so did Smike, and you were rather fonder of them than of him. Esther gets smallpox, but she pulls through and Mr. Woodcourt still marries her, so that's all right in the end. And Richard is a great big twit, but he succeeds only in destroying himself, so even that can be forgotten.
So there are unhappy women and lost loves and illegitimate children. Are these really that much worse than Mrs. Copperfield's abusive second husband, or Mr. Dorrit's tragic self-importance, or the utter, utter degradation of Gaffer Hexam?
Please note, people: if you say you couldn't get through Bleak House because it was too dismal, you haven't tried.
(Fine, it's bleaker than The Pickwick Papers. But everything is bleaker than The Pickwick Papers, up to and including a hot toddy in front of the fire on Christmas evening after a hearty supper and many presents.)