Monday, 17 December 2012
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Book blurb: Living with his sister and her husband, Pip is an orphan without any expectations. It is only when he begins to visit a rich old woman, Miss Havisham and her adopted niece that he begins to hope for something better. When it is revealed that Pip has inherited a large sum of money from a mysterious benefactor on the condition that moves to London and become a gentleman, Pip's adventure really begins. Epic, illuminating and memorable, Dickens' mysterious tale of Pip's quest to find the truth about himself is one of the most enduring and popular novels to date.
So I decided that I should read the book of this before I watch the new film version. It's never the same reading a book after you have images of the actors playing the characters in your head. I'm really glad I did it.
The opening paragraph explains that Pip's real name is Philip Pirrip which really made me laugh. Pip is quite a flawed character, as all of us are I suppose, but it sometimes made it quite annoying to read about his decisions when you could tell he would regret them. It's even worse when he knew that he would regret them but couldn't stop himself, particularly with regard to Estella. This seems to characterise Dickens' writing in that his characters are often flawed but with redeeming features, which makes them more realistic.
The descriptions of Miss Havisham shut up away from the world in her decaying house are brilliant. Her adopted niece, Estella, who isn't actually her niece, is another interesting character. Twisted by Miss Havisham's need for revenge against men, she definitely keeps the story entertaining. The mystery surrounding both of them especially adds to the slightly gothic feel of the book.
There are parts of the story which can seem quite slow, and occasionally the prose is a little confusing. However, Pip's story of coming to terms with and dealing with his great expectations is really good. Without giving too much away, the plot definitely keeps you guessing until the end. Frustratingly, the story is left with a bit of a cliffhanger as you suspect you know how Pip's life is going to unfold but he doesn't explicitly say it.
I finished this book a few weeks ago and overall I really enjoyed it. I would give this novel 7 out of 10.