I’ve casually enjoyed reading Charles Dickens over the years and realized that I hadn’t read Great Expectations, one of his purported best books. For some reason though, I feel like I can’t really write a review. With books of this caliber, it feels more like a book report or essay I might have written in high school, something wooden with ridiculous metaphors and large words to prove how smart I am. Instead, I thought I’d give you some of my observations, things that occurred to me when discussing this book with others. For a much better essay in Dickens, read this essay by one of my literary heroes and neighbors Jill Lepore from The New Yorker.
Pip comes off as somewhat of a dick for much of the book. Yes, Dickens often makes his characters behave in a way that seems off putting before they have some sort of comeuppance, but in this instance, Pip is an asshole through most of the book. His comeuppance makes him only slightly better in my opinion.
What the hell is up with Estella? I realize that Miss Havisham is completely batshit, but Estella seems like a cardboard cutout. And don’t get me started with Miss Havisham!
Poor Joe and Biddy. Pip treats them like crap. You can tell Pip cares about Joe, but only so much as it affects his fortune. Even after the big reveal and comeuppance, he thinks he “settle” by marrying Biddy. Hah! Too late Pip! That ship has sailed!
Most of the rest of the cast were okay. I liked the Pocket family especially. Even with all of my issues with characters, the book kept my attention. Maybe it’s time I read David Copperfield….