March 13, 2012

Book: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 9:32 am

Some consider this to be the best work of Charles Dickens, and reading the book clearly tells you why it has this reputation.

This is the story of Pip, who being the brother in law of a local ironsmith dreams of becoming a gentleman. In the nineteenth century England it is not possible to move from one class to the other easily. The only adventure he has is a chance meeting with a convict and the help Pip gives him for his escape from the swamps, despite his misgivings on whether it is the right thing to do. He does not reveal this deed to anyone.
Pip’s life changes when he is asked by his uncle to meet Miss Havisham, a recluse with a broken heart due to unrequited love, and a consequent bitterness with the world at large. However, it is the stunningly beautiful Estella that captures his mind and soul completely. It does not help that there is such a difference in the stations of their life, and that Estella treats him with nothing but haughtiness.

One mysterious day, Pip is told by a lawyer that he has a substantial inheritance and his dreams of becoming a gentleman (and asking for Estella’s hand in marriage). The rest of the story traces the consequences of these events.

It is well told and is easy to understand, the English being close to our times. The narration is taut and keeps your interest, and will not be out of place as a modern novel today.  The character of Biddy, the quiet and the intelligent girl, and the contrast with Estella are well brought out. There are even twists in the tale. The dual life of the clerk in the employ of Mr Jaggers, who is the lawyer announcing Pip’s fortune, is interesting. The ending is great, with the big twist at the end. The narration is excellent and it is easy to see why Dickens won fame as a great author.

It is a very good yarn and deserves an overall 9/10

— Krishna


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