Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This is at least my 4th reading of this book and each time I see new things in it. Young Pip is orphaned and living with his short-tempered sister and his friend and brother-in-law, Joe Gargery. There are two events in his childhood that shape the rest of his life. While he is out on the moors, he is accosted by an escaped prisoner and made to bring him some food under threat of death. He does this, but the consequences in his home are dire.
The next event comes about when he is summoned to meet Ms. Haversham and her ward, Estella in a setting so creepy that it would take the imagination of Dickens to come up with it. Pip is to come to tea and visit with Estella whenever he is summoned.
Years later, as a young man, he is summoned by a lawyer and told that he has "Great Expectations" and that he is to be sent to London and raised as a gentleman. It seems apparent to Pip that his benefactor must be Ms. Haversham and that he is destined to marry Estella. He feels that this must by why she had him come and visit when he was a child.
The rest of the story revolves around the education of Pip in not only schoolwork, but in life. He makes new friends and loses them and he leaves behind old friends and mourns their passing out of his life too late.
I love Dickens. There is no other author who has given the world such well known and instantly recognizible characters. His books are filled with characters so real that we feel that they must have existed in the flesh. How can Scrooge or Tiny Tim not have existed? There are people who feel that Dickens is too wordy, which may be true if your goal is to just get to the end, but Dickens is to be sipped and savored. His characters need to live in your imagination and act of their own accord. Taking up Great Expectations is like visiting an old friend.
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