Great Expectations Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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One of the most revered works in English literature, Great Expectations traces the coming of age of a young orphan, Pip, from a boy of shallow aspirations into a man of maturity. From the chilling opening confrontation with an escaped convict to the grand but eerily disheveled estate of bitter old Miss Havisham, all is not what it seems in Dickens’ dark tale of false illusions and thwarted desire.
Raised by a humble blacksmith, Pip is recruited by the wealthy Miss Havisham to be a companion to her ward, the cold but beautiful Estella. There, Pip learns to despise his rough origins as Estella torments him about his low prospects. When Pip is informed that an unknown benefactor expects to make him his heir, he sets off to London to realize his “great expectations.” But true gentleman stature, he will find, is a matter of character, not fortune.
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|Listening Length||18 hours and 32 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||October 24, 2011|
|Publisher||Blackstone Audio, Inc.|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #2,351 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#74 in Classic Literature (Audible Books & Originals)
#149 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#212 in Romance (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018
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It is basically a story of a young orphan boy, named Pip, coming of age in the mid- 19th century. It is a life full of characters both good, bad and in between. The main thrust though is how theses characters all affect young Pip's beliefs; fears and... great expectations. As he grows he finds that many are not what he originally thought them to be. However, they are what they are. The story is about how Pip learns to deal with them and life's twist and turns.
It is really a good book. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. It is tough to read in a few spots but you can still get the context and keep the story moving along. I highly recommend this book, but you will have to decide if you are old enough to appreciate it. Just don't wait too long...
The main character, Pip, is just a young kid when the book starts, visiting the grave of his dead parents. While there, he encounters an escaped convict that will have a profound effect upon his life, though he doesn't know it at the time. He has been raised by his 20 years older sister and her husband, Joe, a blacksmith.
Pip's path is to apprentice with Joe and follow him into that that profession. But his aspirations begin to change when a rich weirdo woman named Ms. Havisham invites Pip to come "play" at her house. If that had happened in 2021, Havisham would immediately have been suspected as some kind of Michael Jackson pedophile. It's really not a completely far away comparison. Ms. Havisham's house is frozen in time because of a broken heart. All the clocks stopped at the same time, she still wears her wedding dress from twenty years prior. Even her wedding CAKE still sits on the table, covered by spider webs, bugs, and rats!
It's also at the house that Pip meets Estella, Havisham's ward, whose beauty is only matched by her coldness, and Pip is instantly smitten. Estella looks down on Pip's lowly blacksmith future, inspiring Pip to become a "gentleman" so he can win her heart! Strangely enough, soon after that, Pip is contacted by a mysterious benefactor whose sole aim is to make his dreams come true!
I have to admit I am a late admirer of Dickens. I had read David Copperfield, Oliver Twist, and even this book in the past and was pretty meh about the author. But in the past year or so I have read Hard Times, A Tale of Two Cities, and then a reread of this book and I'm pretty much a huge fan now and want to read all his works.
The blurb on the back of this book calls Great Expectations a "haunting late novel". Why haunting? I guess because it does have a sort of gothic supernatural tinge to it, bordering on horror at some points. Ms. Havisham is scary what with her haunted house and suspension in time, all her windows shuttered from sunlight. It made me respect Pip all the more that he was brave enough to interact and even "befriend" such a ghostlike apparition. Even Estella, the great beauty, reminds me of the robot from Ex Machina, who seemed to have human emotions but in the end was a purely reptilian entity.
And then there's Pip's encounter with an escaped convict at the beginning of the novel in a disquieting graveyard where he is threatened with a horrible death if he does not bring food and drink.
Another reason it might be called haunting is because the story lingers in your thoughts long after you finish reading it. Mainly, because it has a Shakespearean humanity to it. Yes, this is what humans do. They do stupid things in order to obtain the affections of someone they love, even though their purpose is completely doomed. They do good AND bad things. Pip disassociates with his former friends and family once he becomes a gentleman because he finds them embarrassing, but he also helps set up one of his friends in a good career situation. He does the good deed anonymously purely out of altruistic motives. That's why I compare Dickens to Shakespeare. He is talented enough that he can show the full breadth of human experience, which only the masters ever accomplish.
A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about Jimi Hendrix's guitar playing. I marvel at Hendrix because he never seems to run out of a musical idea. He only puts the guitar down at some point or stops playing. No matter when he starts again, it just seemed like his playing was merely on pause, even when he begins a complete different song. It just flows out of him. I feel the same way about Dickens. His storytelling seems almost effortless. I don't get the feeling that he ever had writer's block. His plots seem so original even though they are pretty simple. Each book he writes contains a universe. Even the minor characters seem to be alive and make a statement even if they appear even in just a couple of lines.
Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2018
Top reviews from other countries
The story brilliantly depicts the evil side of money, how it changes a person. It is an extraordinary depiction of love, loyalty, and forgiveness, of false perceptions, and the derived sadness. The plot is slow at the beginning, but it picks up pace as the pages turn, only to keep the reader hooked to it.
As is always the case with Dickens' characters, they are vividly described in the prose. It is easy to fall in love with the positive ones, but the way he writes, makes one intricately understand the negative ones as well. And let's be honest, people are both good and bad, so there is always a gray area. Miss Havisham (a character in this book), for instance, is so eerily described that the reader is left unsure whether to love her or hate her - certainly can't just ignore her!
There is no doubting the genius that is Dickens. Few instances:
The subtlety by which he takes a jab at the way humans misuse religion is just wonderful:
"Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself. Cleanliness is next to Godliness, and some people do the same by their religion."
How life is nothing but a chain of connected events, remove any one and the result would have been different:
"That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day."
"life is made of ever so many partings welded together"
How those who are affectionate are weak. Or are they?
"It’s a weakness to be so affectionate, but I can’t help it. No doubt my health would be much better if it was otherwise, still I wouldn’t change my disposition if I could. It’s the cause of much suffering, but it’s a consolation to know I possess it, when I wake up in the night."
On the importance of crying:
"Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts."
The definition of real love:
“I’ll tell you,” said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper, “what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter—as I did!”
How looks are deceiving:
"Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule."
Verdict: Highly recommended. Worth a re-read.
I have read a few novels by different authors from the 1800s and found that they read quite awkwardly, not so with this novel.
A great story, with the usual great Dickins characters. The film has large chunks of the story missing so it was still rewarding to read.
If you haven't tried reading an older classic author before I would recommend this book as a springboard Ito a different genre.