Havisham by Ronald Frame is the prequel to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. Frame takes the jaded and unhinged Catherine Havisham out of her musty clothes and turns back the clock. We find Catherine as a young girl learning about herself, where she is full of life and hope, and longing before her future life stunting heartbreak.
I enjoyed learning about Catherine’s before: her family relationships and friendships. How her beloved father strove to turn her from a wealthy businessman’s daughter into a Lady. To do this, Frame had to take the elusive – even ethereal Havisham and make her a real multidimensional character. Just as Dorothy unmasking the wizard ruined the magic, Catherine Havisham looses some of her mystique as her ghostly wedding gown is replaced with fancy ball gowns. He begins this demystification of Catherine Havisham at a place a reader would easily recall from Dickens’ tale; the point when Estella first encountered her adoptive mother. The opening scene was a fragmented and brief glimpse into that day which set the tone for the entire novel which was written in these fragmented glimpses. This fragmented style of writing was interesting, but at times a bit frustrating much like trying to stream a video that keeps buffering. Overall I enjoyed the novel because it allowed me a glimpse into Havisham’s past and her own mental anguish. I thought Frame really could’ve delved deeper into the psychological aspect of Havisham’s unraveling and found the lack of this aspect to her demystification disappointing.
Would I recommend this?. Yes. Especially if you’re a fan of the classic.
Haven’t read the classic? You can download it on Amazon for your Kindle for free!