Many years ago when life seemed simple (also known as the 80s), I was laying on the loungeroom floor getting sucked into a black and white film the likes of which I’d never experienced. It was my first viewing of Great Expectations. I was afraid with Pip when he entered the moors and came across an escaped criminal. I felt his rejection when Estella refused to give him the time of day. However, I was repulsed and enthralled when Miss Havisham showed Pip the moldy Wedding Breakfast, taking over the once resplendent room for what I could only imagine was decades.
This was the image I took away from my introduction to Charles Dickens. This was how he captured my attention. The hideous moment of pain in a person’s life that is usually buried where no access is granted. It was there visible in Satis House, a shrine for the life not lived and a heart turned to stone. This Havisham character was something I’d never come across in modern literature or television. She was grotesque but magnificent.
I guess my imagination is not the only one to have been capured by her untold pain. In the novel “Havisham”, written by Ronald Frame, we’re given a possible account of the life of Catherine Havisham. I’m not entirely sure I enjoyed this version of events. There didn’t really seem to be a driving force behind it. I loved the writing, it was beautiful and flowing. By its very essence, however, anyone who knows this character can get a good idea of what the outcome will be within the first few chapters.
Although it was an interesting idea, it might be a bad choice to read the book after the personal connection I feel to the original story. The most redeeming factor comes after Pip enters the story and get to see the same events through the eyes of another.
If you enjoy reading prequels, I would suggest “Rebecca’s Tale” by Sally Beauman. The story of the elusive Rebecca from Daphne du Maurier. As far as “Havisham ” goes, it doesn’t completely work. I would have preferred to read “Rebecca’s Tale ” for the 4th time around.