I always loved the way they looked but they still had a very stuffy feel to them. When I was about 10 I decided to take on one of these impressive books just to say I had. I started reading David Copperfield, but once I realized it had nothing to do with magic, I quickly became disinterested and haven't attempted to read the great English writer since.
Recently, I was in my favorite little used bookstore and decided it was time to give Dickens another try. I purchased the book and the little old lady at the counter said "Ooooh! You must be part of Oprah's book club!", which made me throw up in my mouth a little. Yet another obstacle to reading the great Charles Dickens: my refusal to do anything Oprah tells me to.
Despite this hardship, I decided to go ahead and read it anyway. I just wouldn't read it within the vicinity of any middle-aged housewives. And, I'm really glad I did. I see why they put Dickens up there with Tolstoy and Shakespeare now, he's really incredible. Yet, as a writer, he seems almost completely different than any of the other authors of great literature. They all have a tendency to be very plodding, methodical and philosophical. Dickens feels a lot more like that exaggerating uncle that tells really good stories after he has a few beers.
The incredible twists and turns this novel takes literally made me gasp out loud. I don't think I've ever had as much concern for, and curiosity about, a fictional character as I did for Pip. Dickens really knows how to work a reader over emotionally, it's incredible.
What really makes this book one of my favorites, is that it was so relatable for me on a personal level. Growing up, my father owned a failing floor cleaning and janitorial service. We really weren't doing well at all and it made for some hard times. As much as I realize that it's an honorable profession now, when you're a kid no matter how much you emphasize the word own, you're still going to get made fun of and feel looked down upon when you tell other kids your dad is in the janitorial business.
Just like Pip, I too, would at times try to conceal this sort of open secret about myself and placed an extreme amount of pressure on myself to rise above what I thought was my station in life. I'm at peace with everything now and realize that my father worked incredibly hard to make sure I would have the chance to succeed. I still, however, have all sorts of underlying complexes that I share with Pip and it made this book immensely memorable to me. Even if you don't share my various neurosis's you should still read this book, it's a wonderful piece of work.
To read my previous book reviews click here.