Topics: Orphans, Coming of Age, Love, Poverty, Wealth, Family, Revenge, Adventurous, Psychological, Dark, Melodramatic, Realism, Gothic, Victorian Era, England, and Bildungsroman
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But I couldn't remember much about it. I thought Pip did get his "great expectations," but I couldn't be sure. I rarely re-read books, and I wasn't planning to do so this time. I just wanted to refresh my familiarity with the plot for a book club. But he grabbed me from the first page. I couldn't put it down. The further I got into it, the less able I was to stop reading and go to sleep.
Re-reading the book was an eye-opener. There was so much more to it than I saw around age 13. So many rich characters, a plot that turns on how we choose to deceive ourselves, resolution that is not a modern-day "happy ending," although it feels as though it's the right and fitting working out of things.
And the way that just about every character is woven into the essence of the plot? Gosh, Dickens was a clever writer. He has had such an influence on the evolution of the novel that I suspect it's hard to fully appreciate his contributions.
I scanned some reviews in which people dismissed the book as a huge, boring snooze. Not surprisingly, they were young and bored to begin with. It's not a book best read in high school. In mid-life or beyond, we have perhaps more of the experience required to really understand it.
It's a terrific read.more
It's written in first person, which makes the young Pip's voice kind of endearing at first, particularly his observations about what he imagines his parents to be like, from seeing their gravestones, etc. Pip does get less likeable later on, due to his great expectations, but a lot of the other characters are interesting. If one doesn't get on with Pip, I should think there's some other character one can get interested in.
I found the characters the strongest thing in this book, while some of the writing felt like filler. Not too much so, but some. The characters, however, were strong -- strange, some of them, and others loveable. Or both. All the imagery that surrounds Miss Havisham sticks really strongly in my mind; I wanted to hug Herbert a lot; Mr Wemmick was fun, with his secret castle and his strong division between work and home. I was surprised at how fond I got of Magwitch, too, but he turns out to be a more sympathetic and sweet character than you'd expect.
The two endings are interesting. I think I prefer the one in my edition, which I believe is the second one -- the happier one. It reads better, and less like a last minute thought, giving a bit more resolution.more