Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Great Expectations, Charles Dickens, 1860-1861

Reviewer: BeezusKiddo

Rating: 3.5 Pierogies, with the potential for more if read in a reading group, with the opportunity to discuss the characters and plot

Review: I DID IT! I can't believe I successfully made it through this book! And I LIKED it!

Great Expectations is the story of Pip, a penniless orphan, who unexpectedly comes into "Great Expectations" by an unknown benefactor. Great Expectations follows Pip's rise and fall from wealth, and his pining for the beautiful but cold hearted Estella.

Great Expectations was published as a serial. It reads like one, with plot lines and characters weaving in and out. There have been many movie adaptations of the book (and another expected soon, with Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham), but I think Great Expectations would do perfectly as a mini (or not-so-mini) series. There probably already is one, I just need to do a little digging. Great Expectations definitely has the "feel" of TV.

The cast of characters is huge and colorful, and some have multiple names, which make them hard to track. Not surprisingly, Great Expectations is written in 19th century England's conversational language, while equally colorful as the characters, is sometimes hard for this 21st Century American girl to understand. To get through the language barrier, it would be great to read Great Expectations as a regularly-meeting group, where you stop and discuss each chapter or two.

Dickens is known for his memorable, crazy characters, and Great Expectations is a shining example of his talent. My absolute favorites were the crazed and embittered Miss Havisham, the flawed but lovable Pip, and Joe Gargery, who didn't have a mean bone in his body.

Dickens' works have aged into the Public Domain, so they are free downloads on a Kindle, as are many other classics. With all the new and exciting bestsellers, I've always got a bedside table groaning under the weight of my "to read" pile, but it's also worth it to take a step back, and visit the classics. These books are classics for a reason, and although the language can sometimes be a bit tough, the well-woven story is worth it.