Monday, June 20, 2016

Let's Bust a Recap : Great Expectations

Hello there! I've checked another book off my 2016 reading list, and now it's time to talk about it. After I bought a plane ticket to Japan, obviously one of my first thoughts was, "What books should I take?" Because priorities, people. Nevermind that I'm flying off to a foreign country that I've never visited before and I get to see (and meet!) my favorite people in the world and spend two whole weeks with them--WHAT BOOKS WILL I BE TAKING, for the love?! I quickly decided that taking Great Expectations was out of the question because my copy looks like this:
It's humongous, heavy, hardback, and a heckofa lot to tote around the world and back. So it immediately became my goal to finish it before I left because I really didn't want to start a new novel before I finished this one, but as I already mentioned, I sure wasn't going to take this beast with me. I still had quite a bit left to go, but once I made up my mind to finish it, it really wasn't difficult to do and I finished it last Tuesday with 3 days to spare since my goal was to finish it by last Friday. It's a great book, and I was really into it. But enough with all my goal-setting and accomplishing: let's get down to the actual recap because I leave for Japan TOMORROW, and I probably should start packing.

Charles Dickens wrote and published Great Expectations as a serial appearing in his weekly periodical from December 1860 to August 1861. It was his 13th novel and the 2nd of his novels to be fully narrated in the first person. Dickens began publishing short sketches in London magazines in 1834, and by the time he published his first full novel (Oliver Twist) in 1838, Dickens was already a bestselling writer. 

Great Expectations is set in Kent and London in the early to mid-19th century and depicts the life of an orphaned boy named Pip from his early childhood to his mid-20s written from his own perspective. It reads almost like it's his personal memoir, and in my opinion, it's extremely entertaining. In Great Expectations, we meet such memorable characters as Joe Gargery (the humble blacksmith and truest friend to Pip), Miss Havisham (the wealthy, witch-like spinster of Satis House who is still an icon in today's pop culture), Abel Magwitch a.k.a Provis (the scary escaped convict Pip meets in a graveyard in the very first scene of the book and who shows back up much later in a twist I did not see coming), and Herbert Pocket (Pip's loyal friend and companion) among many, many others. I mean, when you have a cast of characters including people named Jaggers, Wemmick, Pumblechook, and Wopsle, why wouldn't you want to read this book, amiright?

In this novel, we begin by learning that Pip is living with his sister and her husband (Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gargery) and will become Joe's apprentice in the blacksmith trade. Before beginning his apprenticeship, Pip spends some time at Satis House with Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter Estella who are pivotal characters throughout the novel. Four years into his apprenticeship with Joe, Pip is approached by an intimidating lawyer (Mr. Jaggers) with the information that he has great expectations from an anonymous benefactor and, should he choose to accept this offer, he would be off to London immediately to become an educated gentleman under the guardianship of Mr. Jaggers until this mysterious benefactor reveals him or herself to Pip. Pip accepts and off we go on his adventure with him.

I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. It's got mystery, intrigue, romance, adventure, suspense, and death all wrapped up into one delicious package, not to mention poignant quotes which will be occupying our Wednesdays here on the blog for a solid month (as you already got a taste of last week). Dickens masterfully weaves this tale together with very few wasted words. It was long to be sure (59 chapters!), but it was not cumbersome in the least, and it really turned out to be a quick read once I got into it. I would certainly recommend it, and after reading this one, I'm looking forward to reading more of Dickens' work. (Confession: Great Expectations is the first Charles Dickens novel I've ever read all the way through.)

All in all, I'd give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars. It's only lacking that last 1/2 star because I could take breaks from it whereas when I was reading The Last of the Mohicans (another long novel I read this year), I could not put it down.

What about you? Have you read Great Expectations or anything else by Charles Dickens? Who was your favorite character? (I am #TeamJoeGargery all the way.) Which Dickens novel would you recommend for my book list next year? (Your choices are listed above in the picture of my Dickens collection.) What books should I take to Japan with me? Comment quick because I LEAVE TOMORROW!


  1. Don't leaveeeeee meeeeeeee! :( But if you must leave, be safe and have fun.
    I love your book summaries...they're informative without actually giving anything away, and it makes me want to try to read Great Expectations again. Also, my vote is Oliver Twist!

    1. Come with meeeee! :)
      I'm glad you enjoy them, and I try very hard to give enough information without giving anything away so thank you for your affirmation.
      How far did you get in Great Expectations when you tried to read it?
      Oliver Twist: doing it.

  2. I just finished this book and I have to agree. Joe is by far the best character in this tale and I would be ashamed to name anyone else as my favorite.

    Also I really want to talk to you about this whole story so...FaceTime? Are you even awake yet?

    1. I am! Answer!

      Also I just realized I don't have to scroll all the way down to this post. You have a little key to the left of your posts that will take me straight to any post I want. I wish I had known that earlier....

    2. You just keep learning new things every day.