Saturday, December 28, 2013

Great Expectations: 5 Stars

 Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Let me start out by saying how much I love the way Dickens writes.  His words are beautiful and seem to leap of the page. Here are just a few of my favorite quotes:

"Then he pushed Miss Haverisham in her chair 
before him with one of his large hands and put the other in his pocket 
trousers as if the pocket were full of secrets."

“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, 
and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. 
I have been bent and broken, but - I hope - into a better shape.”  

"Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art 
of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable 
than dirt itself."

"It was one of those March days 
when the sun shines hot and 
the wind blows cold: 
when it is summer in the light, 
and winter in the shade."

 "Take nothing on its looks; 
take everything on evidence. 
There's no better rule." 

You would think that I would have read Great Expectations sometime before now, being such and avid reader.  But the truth is, I was never required to read it in school so it never really crossed my mind. Then when I was getting ready to leave Portland and move to Spokane, I decided to go to Powell's bookstore and stock up on some books.

I found a beautiful copy of Great Expectations and bought it.
It has been in my to-read list ever since. Then a friend of mine agreed to read it with me and well, I read it. 

Needless to say, I ended up loving this book!   The story, the characters, everything. 

The story is well known.  A young, orphaned boy is raised by his mean older sister. He's honest and sweet and pure. Then he meets a convict and a rich old lady who is flat out crazy.  And suddenly he is given everything.  He has more money then he could have hoped for.  Does the money change him? Does he stay sweet and honest?  Or does he become stuck up and believe he is better than others? 

The story really make you look at yourself.  What about me?  What would I do?  Who would I become if the one thing I thought I needed, I got? I am one of the many, like Pip, who thinks if I had money, I would be happier, less stressed, and a better person. But would I?  Probably not.  Not that I would become evil or anything, but to think that money won't change you is silly. 

But if you look at someone like Joe in the story, you realize that money isn't needed for you to be a good person. Joe was kind and caring, even to those that may have not deserved it. He saw the good in everyone. And he never seemed to care about money or social status. Pip learns more from watching Joe than from anyone else. 

If you haven't read this book, I can not recommend it enough.  But I suggest taking your time with this one. The story is more than just a story, just like with most of Dickens novels. 

Rating: G


  1. I had to read Great Expectations my freshman year of high school, so my experience of it was a bit sour. I believe I also had to read aloud the word "ejaculated" in a class full of 14 year olds...

    1. High school killed me on a few books (A Tale f Two Cities to name just one). Making books a required reading is like a double edged sword. You want to expose kids to great literature, but often it ends up making them hate he book. And saying "ejaculated" in front of a group of adults would even make me blush, much less at 14 in front of 14 year olds!