Book Review: GREAT EXPECTATIONS, by Charles Dickens

I am very intimidated by the prospect of reviewing Charles Dickens, partly because his books are so big and brilliant, partly because, however much I enjoyed the story (very much), I suspect that there are many references and metaphors, etc., that I missed. Layers upon layers, you see. But I'll give my attention mostly to the narrative, because for five-hundred pages, Dickens had me hooked. I could not put the book down.

And I'd already read GREAT EXPECTATIONS in high school ("not for a class, but out of pure nerdliness," my dad is quick to point out), so I knew what happened. I could not be surprised.

But still. Hooked. From beginning to end.

There's the spooky Miss Havisham, for one thing, and then there's cold, cruel Estella. The convict who appears again and again, in small, devasting ways. And our hero, the orphan Pip, raised "by hand" by his sister, who does not miss any chance to remind him "by hand" how grateful he ought to be. And there is Joe Gargery, her husband, a little window of clear, simple goodness.

A certain element of the bizarre works its way into a story of wealth and property and manipulation, so I never could quite make up my mind as to where the line was, as to what couldn't happen. It seemed, for quite a while, as though anything could.

I have not read anything else by Dickens, being always put off by the immense size of his novels, but now that I am reminded that he moves quickly and is not dull, I may have to start in on another. He's brilliant, really.


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