Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
To begin my summer reading project of reading all of the neglected books on my shelf, I led with a book not even on my shelf. I took it out of the library about a month ago, because I was sad our Gothic literature topic had ended.
This was the first Dickens book I’ve ever read, and, like most people, thought it to be dull, hard, difficult to get into and just unenjoyable. I was so wrong.
It’s undeniable that there are passages that drag, and a fair amount of description, but as this is in a similar style to The Lord of the Rings, though not nearly as much, I couldn’t really complain about it. These passages are also fairly short, and I found myself skimming over them without detracting from the actual story, which helped a lot.
The story is fantastic. Without spoiling too much, it’s built upon a series of coincidences that align in such a perfect way that you only realise what’s going to happen as it happens, leaving you on tenderhooks throughout the story. This is 0ne of my favourite things about reading it; I genuinely had to put the book down and pause for a moment, because everything had aligned so perfectly to a single moment.
Even more so than the plot line, the characterisation was perfect. Pip is the right mix of sweet and bratty, spoilt and selfless, and in typical Dickensian style, there are some truly horrendous characters (looking at you, Compeyson) that I felt physically angry reading about. I also noticed the influence of Frankenstien, I think – it was implicitly mentioned, but Pip reminded me so much of Victor in his conflicting desires, it was rather scary.
I would say read this book if you like the Gothic, if you like a challenge and Victorian London in general. I would also say to keep in mind while reading that Dickens’ books often end happily, even when it all seems hopeless.
Next up, I’m reading House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, a favourite author of mine. Can’t wait to get started!