Great Expectations

Author:  Charles Dickens

Published By: Barnes & Noble

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            Believe it or not, when I was a kid, my teachers did not assign me to read a great many classics.  For some reason, while others were reading books like David Copperfield and Moby Dick, I was reading things like To Kill A Mocking Bird and Catcher in the Rye.  Now, yes, the books I was reading were advanced for my age and are classics in their own right, but I missed out on reading novels by Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte and the like.  So now, as an adult, Iím playing catch up.  This time around, itís Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.

            As the book begins, we are introduced to Pip, an orphan being raised by his verbally and physically abusive sister and her oft-abused blacksmith husband.  A frightened and sad young man, Pip often visitís the gravesite of his mother and father and, having never met them, wonders what life would have been like had they lived.  It is on one such visit that Pipís life is changed forever.  Set upon by an escaped convict, Pip promises him aide, despite the danger to himself. 

            After the convict is captured, Pip finds himself the unwilling entertainment of an eccentric old woman named Miss Havisham.  It is there that he meets Estella, Miss Havishamís adopted daughter.  Intrigued by her beauty, but completely out of her league, Pip vows to one day become a gentleman worthy of her favor.

            Years later, Pipís prayers are answered - an unknown benefactor comes to his rescue, promising him all the money he may need to become trained as a proper gentleman.  Pip throws himself into this task, all the while keeping contact with Miss Havisham and Estella in the hopes that his benefactor is indeed Miss Havisham and that Estella is intended to become his betrothed.

            When Pip comes of age and learns who his true benefactor is, his life is turned upside down.  Unwilling to accept this information, yet unable to ignore it, Pip finds himself in danger at every turn.  His dreams and great expectations are thrown awry and he discovers that everything he believed in was all a lie.

            Great Expectations is one of Dickensí best novels containing unexpected plot twists and very important lessons to be learned about life.  As it is written in the first person, one could actually believe they might be reading the true story of a man whose lack of appreciation for what he has threatens to destroy him.  Of course, not everything is gloom and doom in this novel.  Although Great Expectations is generally a dark tale, there are quite a few bits of humor laced into the story - enough to keep me grinning every so often as I poured through the pages. 

            I wish Barnes & Noble had not stopped production of the Collectorsí Library versions of the classics.  I love the gilded pages and the ribbon bookmark.  The fact that this edition is almost half the size of a regular book (certainly smaller than any paperback version) meant that I could carry it around with me everywhere and read it whenever the moment presented itself.  And believe me, I never wanted to put this book down - not for a minute - so intriguing was the tale.

            I so enjoyed reading Great Expectations that I wish I had read it much sooner.  As much as I enjoyed A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol, I find that Great Expectations tops the list of my enjoyable Dickens tales.  After reading this novel, I find myself wanting to read his other works as well.  Great Expectations is just one of those classics that should not go ignored. 


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