Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

Great Expectations, Dickens' most famous novel, is the autobiography of one Philip Pirrip, nicknamed Pip, who comes into an unexpected fortune. It's a novel about pride, about origins, about criminality.

Every Dickens novel I've read invariably features a character (not necessarily the principal one) that I want to take home and befriend myself. In Great Expectations, that place is undoubtedly filled by the wonderful Herbert Pocket. (Isn't that a great name? I love Dickensian names.) He's just so nice, and cheerful, and honest and, in fact, everything you might want in a person, in striking contrast to Pip, who is in many respects about as selfish as you could possibly get without actually turning into a criminal.

There are all of Dickens' usual improbable coincidences -
I'm thinking about Estella's parents here, and how improbable it is that they are all three connected so closely to Pip - but this is one of Dickens' charms and possibly my favourite thing about his novels, as well as the fact that everyone gets their just deserts - the good get married and have money, etc., whereas the bad basically die. I did, however, think the ending weak, and the alternative ending supplied in this edition equally so. It was abrupt, I thought, as if Dickens had decided that he had written enough and was trying to wrap up the story as quickly as possible. But this is a first-impressions judgement, so it's quite possible I'll have changed my mind on further reflection.

Overall, I did enjoy Great Expectations, although not as much as Dickens' larger novels like Our Mutual Friend or Dombey and Son. But it has some nice twists and turns, and some wonderful characters.