Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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RATING: 4.5/5

BLURB: “One of Charles Dickens’ most beloved novels, ‘Great Expectations’ follows the orphan Pip as he leaves behind a childhood of misery and poverty after an anonymous benefactor offers him the chance of a life as a gentleman. From young Pip’s first encounter with the convict Magwitch in the gloom of a graveyard to the splendidly morbid set pieces in Miss Havisham’s mansion to the magnificently realised boat chase down the Thames, the novel is filled with the transcendent excitement that Dickens could so abundantly provide. Written in 1860 at the height of his maturity, it also reveals the novelist’s bittersweet understanding of the extent to which our deepest moral dilemmas are born of our own obsessions and illusions”

REVIEW: When I was in primary school, I remember having an extremely ambitious and enthusiastic English teacher who decided that we, at the age of ten, should be introduced to the great works of English literature. He did not begin with an easy novel, of course – he chose Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’. And, much to my surprise, I loved this novel from the very start. Whenever I read it I can still hear my teacher’s voice setting the scene of the gloomy and frightening graveyard, an image which instantly made an impression on my young mind; an impression that has stayed with me ever since. I have re-read the novel many times since then, and each time the magic of that first reading is recaptured for me. The story of Pip, a young boy whose innocence and kindness is forever corrupted after his association with the disturbed, jilted bride Miss Havisham and her young and beautiful ward, the casually cruel Estella, is one that continues to resonate across the ages. It deals most importantly with themes of guilt and innocence, with the idea of the corrupting influence of money, with the growing divide between rich and poor that was starkly present during the Victorian era. As with all of Dickens’ novels, the suffering of the characters is something that is so well-written that the reader almost begins to feel such suffering themselves. The character of Miss Havisham terrified me upon my first reading of the novel, and nowadays I concede with the view that she is one of the most complex, challenging and ambiguous characters in literary history – which, oddly, makes her one of my favourites. This novel is one that shaped my view of books by introducing me to the world of Victorian classics, and changed my outlook on literature for good. It is my favorite of all of Dickens’ works and I would highly recommend it.

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