Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Knocked down and trampled all about.

Well, I think this may be a record.

I started "Great Expectations" on Sunday night, and I have just finished it an hour ago. Three days! Dear me.

It was my first introduction to the famous Pip, who I will never, never forget. As far as winsome and compelling narrators go, he is right up there with Cassandra Mortmain and Holden Caulfield.

Reading this book, and writing this review, I feel such a sense of frustration that there's nobody to TALK to about it! Even if you've read it, it was probably a while ago. (Finally - the reason for Lit classes - so SOMEBODY is reading the same good book that you are reading.)

It makes me really, really, really miss Sandy. Did I ever tell you she was my grade 12 English teacher? I was 15, she was 25.

I bought a copy of "Villette" from a local used-bookstore a few years ago, and after Sandy died I finally got around to reading it. I opened up to the first page, and guess whose handwriting I saw, noting: "space and time harmonious"?

Yep, it had been Sandy's copy, from one of her university Lit classes, taken to the store after a fit of purging, as part of a misplaced effort to "help my family not have to deal with so much, later".

All this is to say, I wish she was still alive JUST to talk about "Great Expectations" with me. I can see it now: I would call her up and say "Can I come over tonight?" and she would say "YES! Yesyesyes, I was JUST going to call you!" We'd hang up and then fifteen minutes later I'd be at her door, Pip in hand, saying "WHAT ABOUT THIS HAVISHAM NONSENSE!!!" and she'd throw herself back on the couch, hands held in front of her, palms up, fingers clawed towards the heavens, scream out "AAUUUGGHHH!!! HAVISHAM, I CAN'T STAND IT!!!" And then we'd move on to the pathos of the whole thing, and I'd say "Joe!! Joe!! That's the worst part!!" and she'd say "'Wot Larks!'" and then we'd both dissolve into tears.

Then we'd have an extremely strong coffee and she'd dig out some chocolate.

A few other notes:

* Dickens had an amazing ability to change up his voice and his style. Great Expectations is completely different from A Christmas Carol is completely different from Barnaby Rudge is completely different from Tale of Two Cities.

* I laughed so hard at this book, I shouted out loud several times.

* I cried so hard at this book, I alerted several startled passersby to the fact that no, that car is NOT empty. There is a sobbing woman sitting behind the wheel, poor soul.

* I loved this book and loved the way it ended, and loved the.........[trying not to give it away] surprising negative aspects of the plot.


Mrs. Dalloway awaits. Onward.


kate said...

I love it when I feel you in your posts so vibrantly.

Mel said...

This is quite possibly the best book review (and story, and remembrance) ever. I laughed and cried, reading this.


Shan said...

Kate and Mel, thank you so much. I'm startled by, and grateful for, your comments.

Annalea said...

Wow. Looks like I need to pull out my really pretty copy (Penguin Hardback Classics--affordable, but nicely bound), and read it. Finally. I was afraid of it being like a Tale of Two Cities plus Little Dorrit combined. (Dorrit was so depressing . . . I hated what happened to her father when he came into his great expectations!)

This gives me faith that I'll love it. I'll try to blog when I'm done. Reading voraciously right now, but mostly historical romances. lol When life hands you lemons, pick up a regency. ;o)

And THANK YOU for not spoiling the book.

And, best of all, it was so good to hear you talk about Sandy. I hope I find a friend that good someday . . .

Belinda said...

Growing up as a child that loved to read in England I felt that Pip, Miss Havisham and Estella were part of my childhood, through both the book and the BBC drama on television. Although I can't remember all of the details now, I remember the awful feeling of sadness for Pip, and the sense of great cruelty being done.

I didn't know that Sandy was your English teacher but am so glad to have that part of the story of your friendship--and how amazing that her book found its way to you.

Susie Hewer said...

Well this is really odd - I was rummaging a round in the Red Cross charity shop a few weeks ago and I spotted a nice looking collection of bound books. They were all Dickens novels. The main reason they kept my attention was that in my next marathon part of the route goes past where Dickens lived for a while!

To my shame I have never read Great Expectations and there it was combined with Oliver Twist so I handed over my £2 and brought it home. I haven't started reading it yet as I'm halfway through another weighty tome.

Your review has made me excited to start reading it.