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Great Expectations

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
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From the opening passage itself of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the reader is drawn into the world of the hero, Pip, who is at that time, seven years old. The author creates an unforgettable atmosphere: the gloom of the graveyard, the melancholy of the orphan boy, the mists rising over the marshes and the terrifying appearance of an escaped convict in chains.

Told in first person (one of the only two books that Dickens used this form for, the other being David Copperfield) Great Expectations is a classic coming of age novel, in which we trace the growth and evolution of Pip or Philip Pirrip to give his full name. Pip has lost his parents very early in life and is being brought up by his much older sister and brother-in-law Joe Gargery. His sister is a dominating and shrewish woman, while Joe is an affectionate man. Joe's uncle Mr Pumblechook (another of Dickens' delightfully evocative names) asks Joe to send Pip to the stately mansion Statis House ostensibly to play with the owner Miss Havisham's adopted daughter Estella. This marks the beginning of a life-changing experience for Pip.

Miss Havisham is a wealthy eccentric whose twisted agenda is that of taking revenge on the man who jilted her at the altar. Pip is unwittingly drawn into her malevolent schemes. When Pip grows older, Miss Havisham's lawyer Mr Jaggers informs Pip that he has come into a large fortune from an unknown benefactor and that he must move to London and learn to become a “gentleman.” What follows is a strange and labyrinthine tale of Pip's journey into adulthood.

Dickens' wonderful gift for characterization peoples the book with a host of memorable characters and sub-plots. The novel also explores the fears and anxieties of childhood and traces Pip's moral and emotional development and his ambitions as he matures. Estella as the warped creation of a vengeful mind has her own route to traverse.

Great Expectations finds Charles Dickens at the peak of his creative powers. The Victorian preoccupation with wealth and social ambition, personal ambition, class distinctions, crime and punishment and how they looked at education and self improvement as a means to rise in society are all vividly portrayed here. There are some delightfully humorous passages throughout the book which add to its flavor and authenticity. As with most of Dickens' work, this is a book to be savored by young and old alike and preferably to be read aloud, as Dickens himself did in his wildly popular public readings.

First Page:

GREAT EXPECTATIONS [1867 Edition] by Charles Dickens Chapter I My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip. I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine, who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle, I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence... Continue reading book >>

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Reviews (Rated: 5 Stars - 10 reviews)

Reviewer: - October 22, 2013
The narrator is most impressive. I appreciate the effort he puts into giving distinctive voice to each character!
Reviewer: - June 19, 2013
Great introduction to Dickens - would never have gotten through this book without the audio! Many thanks for the time spent narrating.
Reviewer: - June 14, 2013
Subject: Wonderful narration
I loved this book, and the narrator. Thanks for narrating it, and giving me the pleasure to here it.
June 13, 2013
Subject: Great Expectations
Amazing reader, I was totally absorbed into this story. Wonderful and emotive reading.
Reviewer: - June 6, 2013
This site helps me endlessly with my English literature assignments. I'm so grateful for the energies and efforts that have gone into this service.
Reviewer: - May 23, 2013
Subject: Great Expectations
The narrator Mark Smith is the best I've ever known. He is truly a great professional with vivid voice and lovely live tones. Beyond all great expectations.
Reviewer: - May 23, 2013
Subject: Awesome!
I loved the narration!
Reviewer: - May 18, 2013
The narrator's tone and pitch sound nice to me, but I wish it was read in British English because it's England where the story happens.
Reviewer: - April 13, 2013
I truely enjoyed this book.
Reviewer: - March 25, 2013
Good story, wonderful narration!


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