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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragi-comic masterpiece
At it's heart Great Expectations is a very bleak novel, with Pip's mysterious inheritance leading to nothing but misery, and his hopeless unrequited love for Estella the cause of numerous woes, but Dickens simultaneously manages to turn this into a comic delight by the inclusion of a host of arch characters: the pompous local tradesman Pumblechook, who tries to claim...
Published on 31 Dec. 2004 by Jane Aland

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Childhood memories
Had to read as a child-wanted to read again as an adult. Still enjoyed book but language can be hard to follow. Story seems too obvious for our modern taste. But still would recommend it.
Published 8 months ago by Ann Hayward


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tragi-comic masterpiece, 31 Dec. 2004
By 
Jane Aland (England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
At it's heart Great Expectations is a very bleak novel, with Pip's mysterious inheritance leading to nothing but misery, and his hopeless unrequited love for Estella the cause of numerous woes, but Dickens simultaneously manages to turn this into a comic delight by the inclusion of a host of arch characters: the pompous local tradesman Pumblechook, who tries to claim credit for Pip's good fortune; lawyer Wemmick, who schizophrenically divides his entire personality between work and home, where he turns his house into a castle and comforts his 'Aged P'; Pips monstrous sister, who is so mean to him that it actually becomes amusing; the list goes on. Even the opening, with Pip being confronted by an escaped prisoner on the moors seems to be played for laughs, but as the narrative goes on and Pip's struggling to attain the status worthy of Estella backfires, the book becomes far more sombre, ending up with a moving and ambiguous downbeat ending.

The plotting is tight, hinging around a misconception by Pip regarding the nature of his mysterious benefactor, and though it stretches credulity with it's reliance on unlikely coincidences, and the constant back and forth between London and Pips rural home village become rather tiresome towards the end, the strength of the characters keep this novel alive. Every character of importance is vivid and compelling, from Pip's simple-minded but good-hearted father-figure Joe; the mean-spirited Miss Haversham, who sits amongst the rotted remains of her aborted wedding-day and plots against love itself; her cold and mysterious ward Estella, who has been nurtured into a loveless creature that Pip is sure he can save - it is through the characters that this book shines.

A dark and compelling plot, larger-than-life characters and brilliant prose makes this an essential read.

(NB _ This Wordsworth edition also includes a helpful introduction, the original (inferior) ending, and notes on more obscure references within the text).
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations delivered!, 1 Jan. 2012
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The only Dicken's book I've read before is Christmas Carol, such a long time ago I had forgotten how good he was at writing a picture. To me reading this book has been like watching a film it's so descriptive, all the smoky corners, misty marshes and the living, breathing City of London of the 19th century are right there on the page. All the characters, apart from their names, could be real people and they play their parts well - from a young Pip caught in a churchyard by an escaped villian from the hulks to Miss Havisham caught in her own wedding day nightmare. Beautifully written, a must for all Dicken's fans.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favourite Dickens., 29 Dec. 2011
Having sat through one and a half episodes of the new adaptation of "Great Expectations", I felt that I ought to put in a word in defence of the actual novel in case those who haven't read it got the wrong impression of it from TV.

First of all, despite what the producers of the TV series seem to think, "Great Expectations" is funny. Pip's being attacked and threatened by the convict in Chapter One is hilarious, as is his fight at Satis House, as is his persecution by a local boy after he buys his posh clothes for London and as are any number of incidents throughout the novel. They are funny because Dickens was funny and wrote for an audience who expected him to be funny and because "Great Expectations" is written from Pip's point of view as a grown up of incidents which seemed upsetting or even traumatic at the time and seem comic to him later.

Even though the novel is hilarious at times, it also deals with love in its many forms in the most tender and surprising way. To go into detail would spoil the novel for some and I envy anyone coming to it without knowledge of its central secret but it's fair to say that Dickens' mastery of pace and manipulation of his readers' attention allows him to deliver a crushing emotional hammer blow during the novel which changes Pip's view of life convincingly and lets him sweep us on to the loomingly spectacular later chapters and two dramatic climaxes. Heroically unconditional love stalks the pages of this book, as it does in much of Dickens but there is little of the cloying sentimentality that accompanies it in other works of his. Neither would it be fair to claim that the novel is overlong or convoluted as some other Dickens is for me. There are moments that could be edited from the text without loss to the plot but they are rare and worth reading in their own right, as the reviewer who mentioned the visit to Wemmick's house has pointed out.

It goes without saying that the novel deploys any number of memorable characters:Miss Havisham, Joe Gargery, the aforementioned Wemmick and Pip himself,the boiling mess of ambition,decency,pomposity,guilt,stupidity and humanity, are a few which come to mind. For me, however, Jaggers is,with one unmentionable exception,the most rivetting creation of all - studied, threatening, dominant and knowing.

This is my favourite Dickens novel. I would not dispute that several others are its equal but they do not pull at my heartstrings in quite the same way.I doubt seeing them knocked about on TV would have annoyed me quite so much.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One Good Turn Deserves Another, 23 Dec. 2011
My first Dickens novel and it definitely won't be my last!

A wonderful novel

The style of language was a bit strange at first but became easy once I got used to it.

I got a little confused in places but that's probably just me.

My favourite character was Aged P "All right John, All right my boy!"
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont be put off., 25 Feb. 2010
By 
C. Freedland (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I have all Dickens that I've read so far. I had been put off by the many screen versions that I'd seen. Dont be put off. It's an excellent novel to start with if you have never read Dickens before. These inexpensive books are worth every penny.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An almost eternal resonance, 28 Jan. 2009
By 
Aquinas "summa" (celestial heights, UK) - See all my reviews
I read this novel about a decade ago and it still resonates like the memory of a fine wine or a classic malt. The resonance stays imprinted on the memory long after the details of the plot have been almost forgotten.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Buy, 5 Jan. 2012
Without a doubt the greatest literature work of the 19th century and unmatched in quality. Dickens finest novel and a must read for anyone. The product was dispatched immediately after purchase and arrived well before expected delivery. The book was in perfect quality and well packaged.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations – Charles Dickens (Read my other book reviews ..., 16 Feb. 2015
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This review is from: Great Expectations (Kindle Edition)
Great Expectations – Charles Dickens

(Read my other book reviews here: https://estherbookblog.wordpress.com/ )

It is hardly surprising to see this on a list of great books, as it is often considered Dickens’ best. Out of the Dickens novels I have read, it is certainly the one I enjoyed the most and found the easiest to read. This is perhaps why it maintains its place as a set text studied in many schools and universities. The novel is another coming of age story that follows its narrator, Pip, from his humble beginnings in rural England, to the city of London.

As a young boy, he lives with his sister and her husband, Joe, a blacksmith, in the Kent marshes. One night he comes across an escaped convict and ends up helping him escape further. Pip is later taken to the house of Miss Havisham, a wealthy and eccentric old woman, once left at the altar, who continues to wear her wedding dress and live in the decaying grandeur of the wedding that never happened. Here he meets the young girl, Estella, and becomes infatuated with her.

Pip’s identity centres on his ‘expectations’; dissatisfied with the ordinary countryside existence as a blacksmith, and hoping for a miraculous transformation, he feels a sense of sadness, ingratitude and shame in his home and the possibilities it allows for his future. Instead he holds the provincial dream of moving to the fantastic city, to make his fortune and impress Estella. This dream seems to be actualised when he meets the lawyer, Jaggers, who provides him with the news of a mysterious benefactor and a fortune: “My dream was out; my wild fancy was surpassed by sober reality”.

Dickens sets him up for a disappointing fall. Pip’s first impressions are that the city is “rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty”, with imposing buildings, illicit activity and where religion and justice have become corrupt. Later he concludes that “London was decidedly overrated”. It is dramatically brought down from an ideal to an awkward unattractive reality. Furthermore, the glamorous model of the century, the movement from backwardness and deficiency in the country to riches and success in the city, is satirised as it is equated with criminality; it is only possible for Pip due to criminal funding (Magwitch, the convict Pip once helped, turns out to be his secret sponsor).

Time seems sped-up in the city – the fast-paced living and working is contrasted with the slower movement and changing seasons of the countryside, which is again different to Miss Havisham’s immobility, “as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped Time in that mysterious place”. She does not move on, living in the moment of her crushed dreams and expectations, unlike Pip who is continually involved in the process of encountering the world for what it really is.

The story continues with a fire, several deaths and another escape. Pip feels tainted by London’s crime and grime and having shown disdain for his old life and friends (though he continues to uphold Estella and see her everywhere: “You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here”), Joe is still the one who comes to his aid when Pip falls ill. In the end it is the country mists and “tranquil light”, rather than the city’s supposed glamour, that seem to offer hope for his and Estella’s relationship. Dickens shows us one of life’s ironies: fulfilment often comes when we least expect it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Great Expectations Fulfilled, 19 April 2014
By 
Des (London, England) - See all my reviews
Our expectations in the 21st Century, whether great or modest, differ somewhat from the 19th Century ones depicted here, Pip is not exactly, in a position to maximise his number of friends on Facebook, nor win a television talent contest, a point where his expectations might be the exact inverse of his talent. Nevertheless, some things are unending, unchanging and constant: the need for love, security, pleasure and fulfilment. Dickens allows his central character to taste the ephemeral pleasure of success, but ultimately discover that greater happiness can be achieved through meaningful achievements and emotional satisfaction.

At the heart of the book is redemption: Magwitch, seemingly, an unreconstructed bad-un, softens so significantly it is as if his rough hands and harsh character were immersed in a Dickensian version of Fairy Liquid. And Pip himself, ultimately showing his disdain towards the disdain he showed towards the wonderfully stoic Joe Gargery and Biddy.

How splendid to see pompous old Pumblechook lose his aura of glory by association, a bit like hearing the air going out of a balloon with a soggy hiss, as Pip's expectations diminish and Pumblechook's with them. Oh, Miss Havisham, why couldn't you have been around now to put your gloriously run-down house and brewery onto a television makeover show and have your own damnation and descent halted and turned around as swiftly as your environment?

Finally, Estella, two endings, the one used most during Dickens lifetime sufficiently enigmatic. Sad, she never discovers who her father was during the narrative - but if, indeed, Pip ended up with her, it would be a good source of bedtime conversation, if ever a sudden whim caused her to regress to her teenage self and allow headaches or other impositions - including the memory of Miss Havisham - to impede their love life.

A great book, well written, full of hope and despair, with the former, just about, triumphing over the latter.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Different to expectations, 15 April 2012
By 
Mr. K. E. Varney "kev675" (Reading UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I remember us studying Great Expectations as school, but only a few of the early chapters. I didn't like Dickens as a schoolboy, although he was often inflicted on us. I found his style of writing rather dense. In the last few years I've read a few other Victorian novels, such as one Jane Austen and several Joseph Conrads. I didn't find them too difficult, so I thought I would give Dickens another go on his 200th anniversary.
The style does take a bit of getting used to, but some of the language is pure poetry. I thought I would have more difficulty understanding the language than I did, but there was only the odd passage or phrase. I read it about a chapter or two at a time, and it took me about two months to finish it. It is such as emotionally painful book that I think that was as much as I could handle at a time. It has a multi-stranded plot, so thankfully, after every painful chapter, there would be a bit of comedy or adventure. It is not a very realistic plot: there are too many unlikely events and coincidences, but once I accepted that I found it did not really matter. One thing that did detract from my enjoyment was that, like everyone else, I knew what the surprise twist was. Despite that, I was often surprised by developments I hadn't predicted. I thought after the big show down that the rest of the book would just be about Pip coming to terms with things, mending some relations while resolving some adventures. That was not the case at all. After I finished the book, I felt as if I had been through a bad break-up myself, and was distracted for over a fortnight afterwards. My favourite scenes were those between Pip and Estella, especially the childhood scenes. FWIW, I prefer the more hopeful, ambiguous, garden ending.
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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
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