Havisham

Ronald Frame. Picador USA, $26 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-03727-5
This stylish but dour “prelude” to Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations comes from Glaswegian dramatist and author Frame (The Lantern Bearers). Catherine Havisham grows up in privilege and leisure at the imposing Satis House, courtesy of her affluent father, Joseph, who runs the most prosperous brewery in North Kent and ships her off to the aristocratic Chadwyck family to polish her social graces. Joseph, a widower, sparks his teenage daughter’s resentment by disclosing he has remarried, though his second wife has since died, and Catherine also comes to loathe her ne’er-do-well half-brother, Arthur, after he begins living with them. She falls in love with the dashing racetrack gambler Charles Compeyson, and Joseph dies, leaving her the brewery. She becomes engaged to Charles, who wants to manage the Havisham brewery. However, Charles jilts his would-be bride, and Catherine’s life descends into seclusion and a slow madness; she wears only her wedding dress while living in the decaying mansion. After adopting a young girl, Estella, Catherine ages into the cynical spinster depicted in Great Expectations. Frame offers a convincing recreation of the iconic Dickens character, but his tale suffers from centering on such an unappealing protagonist. Agent: Adrian Searle, Freight Books. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 11/05/2013
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 368 pages - 978-1-250-03729-9
Paperback - 368 pages - 978-1-250-05610-8
Paperback - 361 pages - 978-0-571-28829-8
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-4272-3889-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-4272-5162-6
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