18 May 2012

Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Great ExpectationsGreat Expectations by Radhika Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
How I Got It: I own a copy.

In an overgrown churchyard, a grizzled convict springs upon an orphan named Pip. The convict terrifies the young boy and threatens to kill him unless Pip helps further his escape. Later, Pip finds himself in the ruined garden where he meets the bitter and crazy Miss Havisham and her foster child Estella, with whom he immediately falls in love. After a secret benefactor gives him a fortune, Pip moves to London, where he cultivates great expectations for a life which would allow him to discard his impoverished beginnings and socialize with the idle upper class. As Pip struggles to become a gentleman and is tormented endlessly by the beautiful Estella, he slowly learns the truth about himself and his illusions.

Great Expectations.

It’s one of those novels so many of us have heard of but we haven’t sat down to read. Why? Who knows. It’s like that with a lot of books and frankly it’s sad. I can tell you the only reason it took me this long to read it is because I had no idea what it was about. That’s super sad, isn’t it? I should have a better excuse than that, but I don’t.

One day during an outing to my local bookstore, I decided to buy some classics. Many of you know that Barnes and Noble as a buy two and get the third free sale on their classics, so I decided to load up. I was buying some particular titles that I’d always meant to read, and GE was one of them. And, to my surprise, I decided to just pick it up one day because it was sitting close by and read it.

GE follows Pip, a young fellow raised by his uncle and sister in a small village in England. His future has been decided as he’s declared an apprentice at his brother in-law’s blacksmith’s shop. After a strange childhood punctuated with criminals, he discovers, much to his surprise, that he has been given a great fortune by an unnamed benefactor.

The novel then goes on to tell the story of how Pip moves to London to become a gentleman. He meets a good sort of peculiar characters and graduates from country boy to young man living on the high. Then follows several chapters of what is to be expected from letting his head get too big, and his wallet too skinny, and all the while the mystery of the mysterious benefactor follows him.

I lot of people are turned away by classics that haven’t been publicized as something modern or romantic. I find that once a classic has been translated into a movie in recent years, then somehow everyone is running out to read it and declare its mastery.

Great Expectations is a classic mystery that just happens to have been written several decades ago instead of in the past ten years. It’s a classic and a wonderful classic at that.

The book moved quicker at some parts and slower at others. There were some areas I was curious why Dickens had to include them at all, but it wouldn’t be Dickens without them. (It also wouldn’t be Dickens without his sarcasm laced within the pages.) His characters are super memorable, and I love pip’s character I think most young people who have been given some sort of freedom, like money, a car, going off to college, etc… have been in his shoes.

I would go so far as to say this is a classic novel that would translate well for mostly young adult readers. If you’re used to reading a lot of YA and want a classic to work through, as everybody should get through at least one a year, then this is a great choice.

Furthermore, I love Dickens. Some people hate his writing, but I don’t. I think he’s witty and imaginative. Don’t believe the Dickens haters, just find out for yourself.

Happy reading!

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  1. I've been meaning to read this one in forever. I think I will finally get around to reading Great Expectations!

    - Courtney Wyant @ Courtney's Book Nook

  2. I've read Great Expectations a few times and it remains my favorite novel by Charles Dickens. I'm always astounded at the way in which Dickens can craft a story and steer a readers emotions without revealing anything of the mystery he has constructed. They don't build novelists like Dickens anymore.

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