Havisham: A Novel

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Miss Havisham is an enduring figure in British literature. Mysterious, bitter, and cruel, but ultimately pitiable, she stands out as one of Dickens’s most memorable characters. In Havisham, Ronald Frame sets out to explain this enigmatic woman: who she was when she was young and what happened to turn her into the angry recluse that we all love to hate.

In this, he is mostly successful. The young Catherine is captivated by the luster of society, but surrounded by false friends. Despite her troubles, however, it is difficult to sympathize with her. Even as a girl, she is entitled, self-centered, and blind to the pain she inflicts upon others.

The absolute triumph of this book is the language. Frame’s style is lyrical and poetic as he flits quickly between moments in Catherine’s story, giving the book the feel of a beautifully rendered memory. The modern prose contrasts nicely with the Victorian setting, and the juxtaposition makes the work feel enchanted.

While Havisham doesn’t completely explain the erratic behavior of its protagonist, it does serve to humanize her. Describing events before, during, and after those of Great Expectations, it serves as a wonderful companion to the classic, and it is absolutely gorgeous to read.

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Star Count 4/5
Format Hard
Page Count 368 pages
Publisher Picador 
Publish Date 2013-Nov-05
ISBN 9781250037275
Bookshop.org Buy this Book
Issue April 2014
Category Popular Fiction


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