I feel as though I have known the story of Pip for most of my life. I have vague memories of listening to audio books and watching adaptations. Maybe that is why I have never felt a real need to pick up the actual book and read it.
The beginning is pretty much exactly how I expected it to be. All the characters seemed to be just as I had seen them before; the scary convict, the kindly Joe Gargery, the nasty sister, stuck up Estella and timid little Pip. Even Miss Havisham didn’t seem any different to how she has been portrayed. It’s not until half way through that I began to feel as though I was coming to the story for the first time. Possibly I’ve not paid as much attention to that part of the story when watching adaptations?
When Pip moves to London to start his new life, there’s all sorts of people, places and plots to interest the reader. I found his relationship with Wemmick especially entertaining. This character, with an almost split personality, is such a brilliant invention! Everything from his odd home to his ‘portable property’ makes him such a delight to read about. As Pip gets to know and understand his peculiar ways, I, too, felt that I was getting to know him. I had never really thought much about his role in the past, but when reading Great Expectations, you can really see how important he is to the storyline, even more so than Pip’s greatest friend, Herbert (who is yet another loveable character – Dickens sure knows how to make them!).
I’m quite a fan of Dickens – even though I have only read a few of his books, and haven’t enjoyed all of them (I really struggled with A Tale of Two Cities). And so I find it strange that I have only recently picked up Great Expectations. It seems to be a favourite to so many people, but I can’t help wondering why. Lots of people like Pip’s character, but when I compare him to David Copperfield, he seems a bit dull.
That’s not to say I didn’t like Great Expectations! I loved the descriptions of the bleak marshes where Pip grew up. I appreciated the interlinking storylines, even if there were quite a few coincidences. The twists were fantastic and well timed – I only wish I had read the book before seeing adaptations so that I could have been shocked by them! If I have one complaint, it’s that the ending seemed a bit drawn out.
Now that I’ve finally read Great Expectations, I feel that I should give Oliver Twist a go. The 1968 musical was always a favourite of mine when I was younger!