Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Review: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Title: Great Expectations
Author: Charles Dickens
Publisher:  Wordsworth Classics
Pages: 432
Genres: Classics

Considered by many to be Dickens' finest novel, Great Expectations traces the growth of the book's narrator, Philip Pirrip (Pip), from a boy of shallow dreams to a man with depth of character. From its famous dramatic opening on the bleak Kentish marshes, the story abounds with some of Dickens' most memorable characters. Among them are the kindly blacksmith Joe Gargery, the mysterious convict Abel Magwitch, the eccentric Miss Havisham and her beautiful ward Estella, Pip's good-hearted room-mate Herbert Pocket and the pompous Pumblechook. As Pip unravels the truth behind his own ‘great expectations’ in his quest to become a gentleman, the mysteries of the past and the convolutions of fate through a series of thrilling adventures serve to steer him towards maturity and his most important discovery of all - the truth about himself.
I was beyond excited to finally pick up one of Charles Dickens's books. Great Expectations is often cited to be one of his most accomplished novels so I thought it would be a great one to start with. I am so disappointed that I didn't enjoy Great Expectations as much as I wanted to.

I hate to say it but I really disliked Dickens's writing style. He uses a hundred words when a handful would do and I found it quite hard to follow. As expected, there are a lot of words and phrases that are not used today and that was challenging enough, so I really didn't appreciate his rambling and convoluted storytelling. I felt completely smothered. I know his work was serialised and I could tell he was paid by installment. There were so many chapters or just paragraphs that didn't really need to be there. If this is his most tightly woven and plot driven book then count me out reading any of his other novels as this was absolute torture to read by the end.  The only other book of Dickens that I own is Oliver Twist so I hope it is better but it has now swan dived to the very bottom of my TBR, sadly.

On a more positive note, the main plot (when you finally get to it) was really good. In the first ten or so chapters I was riveted. I did guess the main plot twist of the book almost immediately but there were a lot of twists I didn't see coming so that balanced it out. The essence of this coming of age story is really interesting.

But oh my, I absolutely despised Pip, which is another factor that didn't help. He was selfish, stupid, and really annoying. He was unhealthily obsessed with Estella, despite not really knowing anything about her. It induced a lot of eye rolls, let me tell you. I absolutely hated being stuck in his pea-sized brain. I am so glad I am done with this book and can now move on with my life.

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