Great Expectations Review
A review containing spoilers can be found here.
That’s right, I have finished reading Great Expectations, the very night before I have to leave for college. Hooray!!! (Come on, cheer with me! Or you can imagine a spirited cheer if you’re too embarrassed to be heard cheering out loud for no apparent reason.) If you’ve been following my blog (good for you!), you’ll see that many of the points I’m about to make have been mentioned in my Great Expectations Reflections posts, but I promise this will include new points as well. And it will be better! (Maybe.)
Alright, alright, I’ll stop all the parentheticals and start the review already. Great Expectations was more fun to read than I had originally anticipated. A large part of that was because of the writing. This is one of Dickens’ later books, which I know from reading the inside flap, and I would guess that Dickens’ acquired experience in writing was a great contribution to the style of this book. It was overall very clever, and that cleverness was by turns amusing, beautiful, and incredibly apt.
I first noticed this cleverness in the beginning of the book, where I often found myself laughing out loud. As the plot got underway, this same sort of cleverness worked itself into characters and descriptions and all sorts of other aspects of the story, so that everything seemed exceedingly well-painted and true to life. The beautiful comes in with some of the descriptions, like this one of the Thames River as the characters are rowing through it:
“The night was dark by this time… what light we had, seemed to come more from the river than the sky, as the oars in their dipping struck at a few reflected stars.”
Needless to say, I have great respect for Dickens’ writing abilities.
The plot was slow at times, especially in the middle, but it definitely had its moments. And when it had those moments, they were very exciting. Maybe they were even more so because I got used to the slower parts and was surprised when they abruptly changed. I also noticed, one night when I was looking for a place to stop in order to get some sleep, whenever I got to the end of a chapter or some other suitable place, there was some incident or plot point that made me say “just a little more” again and again. Although this feeling didn’t last throughout the book, it’s something that I love to see whenever I read. I think that most readers love that feeling of not wanting to put the book down and actively search out books like that.
I can not deny that I found myself actively engaged with this book. You know it, too, if you’ve read my rants about Estella or my chastisement of Pip or my musings on Miss Havisham in my reflections posts. I didn’t intend for any of those posts to be as long as they ended up being, I just set out to write a bit about what I was thinking and it all flowed out. I wasn’t always happy with the characters, I didn’t always like them, but I experienced a lot of feelings as I read, and often very strong opinions to go with them. That’s also something to look for in a good book. And if someone ever wants to talk to me about this book, I could quite easily, and probably at great length.
Now, I always reserve a five star rating for those books that I absolutely love. My usual measure for this is whether I find myself wanting to read a book multiple times and enjoying it again each time that I do. That being said, I did really enjoy reading Great Expectations, but I don’t think it quite fits in with my favorite books of all time. It’s nothing against the book itself, as I’ve mentioned before, my ratings are all to do with my personal preferences. So I give it a rating of four stars.