Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

I didn’t have great expectations coming into this novel. I was nudged into reading this by someone who said it was better than A Tale of Two Cities. Overall, as a story I agree, though A Tale of Two Cities has the historical context which is another aspect to the interest most people have in it, myself included.

A quick overview of the story for those who haven’t read it: Pip, a boy from a rural part of England is apprenticed to be a blacksmith. He gets word that he has a rich, anonymous benefactor that wants to turn him into a gentleman. Then he learns who the benefactor is and there are complications which lead him to lose almost all his wealth.

This is a great coming of age story. It’s a great tale of how those without money are treated, and then how that quickly changes once people know discover they have Capital. I really enjoyed the part of the book where Pip, the main character, suddenly became wealthy and how people were so nice to him.

This classic tale which was serialized in a magazine he partly owned, All The Year Round. As such, it suffers from the tendency to be overly wordy; while reading, sometimes I just wished Dickens would get to the point. The long, fluffy descriptions are very much a product of the time. I experienced a bit of this fatigue while reading another wordy classic novel published in the same magazine, The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.

Is this a classic worth reading? Yes. Dickens certainly has some colorful characters in this story from the vengeful Miss Havisham, the eccentric John Wemmick, and the kind convict Magwitch. Classics also embody the time they were written so the story is about the wealth gap, and transportation of convicts. While reading this, you will learn a lot about what life was like at that time and how the greatest aspiration a young boy had was to be a gentleman.

Rating: ★★★★

Book #14 in my 2022 Reading Challenge

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