November 2013

A famous character’s spoiled expectations

By Ronald Frame
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Many an English student has speculated about the mystery of Satis House and the “witch of the place,” Miss Havisham, as introduced in Dickens’ Great Expectations. Left at the altar on her wedding day, she spends her remaining days as a bitter, living ghost inside her family’s home. Enter Scottish novelist Ronald Frame and his novel, Havisham, which imagines the early life of this fascinating literary character.

The only offspring of a wealthy brewer, Catherine is a precocious child. When her father eventually passes away and leaves her his fortune, she is sent to live with an aristocratic family to learn refinement. However, the only man she seems to be attracted to is Charles Compeyson, a charming, dishonest rogue—who, as we know from Dickens, will cause her heartbreak.

Frame wants the reader to feel emotion for Catherine; he makes her human. An excellent example of a present-day writer taking on a classic, Havisham gives the reader food for thought while reviving one of the great characters of Victorian literature.

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By Ronald Frame
ISBN 9781250037275

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