14 September 2008

200 word review: 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens

Usually when I read a book I write the review in my head as I go along. But, with ‘Great Expectations’, I became so engrossed in the story that I forgot to do this. So writing this review is going to be tricky!

I already knew the story from the BBC adaptation, but this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel at all. There were still moments when I read faster because I desperately wanted to know what happened next and I still created my own images of the characters. The real mastery is the way the emotions of the narrator (Pip, a village boy who comes into money and becomes a London gentleman) are conveyed, both in the moment of the narration and in the melancholy hindsight. There is a bitter tinge to his telling of how he came into his fortune, and yet this doesn’t betray how his expectations turn sour later – although I knew it was coming, I still felt the shock and profound disappointment of Pip when he discovered the identity of his benefactor.

Despite avoiding Dickens for years, I greatly enjoyed this shining example of his skill in storytelling, and would recommend it to anyone.

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