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Havisham

3.10  ·  Rating details ·  1,310 ratings  ·  272 reviews
Before she became the immortal, terrifying, wedding dress-wearing Miss Havisham of Great Expectations, she was a young woman named Catherine, with all her dreams ahead of her.

Catherine Havisham was born into privilege. Spry, imperious, she is the daughter of a wealthy brewer, and lives in luxury in Satis House. But she is never far from the smell of hops and the arresting
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ebook, 368 pages
Published November 5th 2013 by Picador (first published January 1st 2012)
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3.10  · 
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 ·  1,310 ratings  ·  272 reviews


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Laurel
Dear Mr. Frame:

I recently read Havisham, your prequel and retelling of Charles Dickens Great Expectations, one of my favorite Victorian novels. Your choice to expand the back story of minor character Miss Havisham, the most infamous misandry in literary history, was brilliant. Jilted at the altar she was humiliated and heartbroken, living the rest of her days in her tattered white wedding dress in the decaying family mansion, Satis House. Few female characters have left such a chilling impressio
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Jax
Nov 14, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Ronald Frame's Havisham opens with a great scene in which a young Estella meets Miss Havisham for the first time and is shocked by what she sees - the dress, the veil, the slippers - all important details from Great Expectations reiterated here. This vignette is in short, clipped sentences, and almost like a brief running-commentary snapshot into Miss Havisham's mind. It's a brilliant way to kick off a story of one woman's descent into madness and 24-hour bridal gown wearing.

Unfortunately, this
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Selwa
Apr 11, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, arcs
I should start by saying that I came in with GREAT EXPECTATIONS HAR HAR. Sorry. Now that that's out of the way ...

I went to Book Expo America last year and Havisham was one of the two books I was most excited about receiving (I might as well add that the version I read is actually an ARC). I adored Great Expectations, and Miss Havisham is such a wacky character (a wealthy woman jilted on her wedding day, she stops all the clocks in her home at the time she found out, and eventually adopts a youn
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Erin
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Find this and other reviews at: http://flashlightcommentary.blogspot....

Arguably one of Dickens' best known characters, Miss Havisham has intrigued readers since the release of Great Expectations. I'm not a fan of the book itself, but even I am not immune to the eerie mystic that clings to the tattered remnants of her dilapidated mansion and decaying wedding dress. Like the novel or not, it's hard not to wonder how one could end up as psychologically grief-stricken as the mistress of Satis House
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Diane S ☔
I read Great Expectations in high school, which I am sure many of us did, and it is actually do for a re-read, well someday. I do remember Miss Havisham as being a nasty and bitter old biddy.

In this remarkably well written novel, the author tries to enlighten the reader on what made her the mean old character she was. The story starts when she is young, only her father bringing her up, a brewery providing the family fortune. I enjoyed this story, did feel sorry for her in places but always felt
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Teresa
Feb 27, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like many other readers I have been fascinated with the character of Catherine Havisham since I first encountered her in Great Expectations at the tender age of 13. Jilted on her wedding day and frozen in time and bitterness in Satis House, she endeavours to wreak vengeance on treacherous, unreliable men via her ward, the irresistible Estella. Ronald Frame uncovers the human side of Miss Havisham, revealing an ambitious and vivacious young woman not yet tainted by the trauma of broken relationsh ...more
Andrew
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an experiment in imaginative writing that works admirably.Telling the story of Catherine Havisham from her childhood -- a prequel to 'Great Expectations' -- it is clear,at least in Ronald Frame's fantasy, that Miss Havisham once had great expectations herself! Using his literary skills to some effect,Frame delineates the whole sorry story which leads the self-contained brewer's daughter Catherine to the fateful morning of her 'phantom' wedding to Charles Compeyson,and its deathless after ...more
Blagovesta
I picked Havisham in a bookstore in Paris, during our holiday. Being a fan of Great Expectations I was all excitement that such a book should exist and I couldn't wait to dive into its story, Catherine Havisham's story. However, the more I read, the more disappointed I grew. The book resembles a poem to me, but one that sounds flat and evokes no feelings in the reader's heart. It was as if I watched everything happening to Catherine from a great distance and heard the words she spoke through a t ...more
Anne Tucker
well, I read it just after finishing Great Expectations (and Mister Pip, another excellent novel inspired by GE) and was intrigued to find 'another weay of looking' ast Miss Havisham. It was fine, enjoyable but somehow didnt really add anything for me. I had presumed we would think her less 'mad' and unhinged ... but for me the TV film last Xmas with the much younger Miss Havisham did do that. She came over as a real person, who could well have lost it following such dreadful treatment, loss of ...more
Alex
Dec 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book!! Really well written and makes you feel things! Pretty sure I took the wrong lesson I was supposed to take from this book which was don't trust anybody!! Very complex characters and gives good psychological background. Lots of haunting lines:

On Compeyson's death (this is not a spoiler if you've read Great Expectations which I would recommend doing before this book):

"A destroyer such as he, who is destroyed in his turn, he's owed no grief" (347).
C Valeri
Jan 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A haunting and eery portrayal of the psychology of the girl who became the woman who became the ghost in GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
Modern and readable but paid homage to Dickens in its eccentricity and character.
Felt very absorbed into the narration, you just kept turning page after page.
Jo Barton
Nov 13, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In Havisham, Ronald Frame has taken inspiration from the Charles Dickens’s classic novel Great Expectations and has recreated the supposed life of the ill fated spinster Catherine Havisham. There has always been much speculation into the mystery of Satis House, and the portrayal of Miss Havisham left in her decaying mansion surrounded by the ghost of her wedding paraphernalia presents an iconic image of English literature.
Catherine Havisham is such a fascinating character that any story that can
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Marilena Reutzel
When I heard that someone was finally telling Ms. Havisham's story, I was absolutely thrilled. I don't think many would disagree when I say that she is the most captivating and mysterious character in Great Expectations. I was very much hooked when I started the book, and I found the story Frame created to be very much believable. I enjoyed sympathizing with her and seeing her as a human being, not just a heartless man-hater.


However, my enjoyment waned when she declined into madness. It all see
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Rebecca
In the tradition of Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea, Frame attempts to give a voice and an explanatory history to the madwoman on the fringes of a classic novel. Yet he lacks Rhys’s narrative sparkle; the novel limps along dully from one plot event to the next until the storyline at last meets up with Dickens’s through the characters of Pip and Estella. Havisham utterly fails to live up to the eager reader’s great expectations.

(See my full review at We Love This Book. The novel also features in my
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Amy
Aug 29, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wide Sargasso Sea set the bar really high, in my opinion, for this type of character-centric prequel. When there is such a wonderful and iconic character, such as Miss Havisham, and you hear someone is writing their back story it is easy to get excited about it. Unfortunately, this book does not live up to such great expectations. A character like this deserves a thorough psychological exploration so you can see how they became the person you already know them to be. This felt more like snippets ...more
Barb
My favorite genre of fiction is historical fiction and I like a good Victorian yarn, especially one rich in period details. I was expecting this book to be able to stand on its own as an enjoyable work of fiction without the need for the reader to be familiar with Dickens's, Catherine Havisham.

However, I'm not sure how well this novel works for readers who aren't familiar with Charles Dickens's 'Great Expectations'. The prologue opens with the narration of a brief scene, less than two pages lon
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Doreen
Jul 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I was disappointed, overall, in the way the narrative differed from what Dickens actually wrote in Great Expectations, particularly in the ending scenes. And there just wasn't enough psychology involved. While the reasons for her breakdown after the jilting were fairly clear (I thought the fact that she was (view spoiler) was a smart idea, story-wise,) the reasoning behind what she did with Estella was never really examined, and I'd say that's about 50% of the al ...more
Whitney
Apr 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm sorry, but I was hoping for a less, um, boring novel explaining why Miss Havisham went totally batshit crazy. Dickens didn't bother to make his characters believable. I'm not sure why this author did, unless the impetus was to present a real-life scenario that could have happened to actual humans. This book starts out like a Jane Austen novel, but midway through, the table full of rotting uneaten wedding food is supposed to speak for itself. But it doesn't. Dickens created one of most unforg ...more
Elizabeth
This book had such great promise, but half the way through, I am still waiting for it to hook me. The character of Miss Havisham lived in such madness, I expected some seriously bad stuff to happen. But we've already met Compeyson, and no one around Catherine trusts him. How will this be utter destruction for her? Seems like it's just a big 'told you so." Additionally, the writing style is off-putting for me. I most enjoy books where the writer's style disappears into the story, but this book se ...more
Rachel
May 11, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Miss Havisham growing up in wealthy middle class England and then how when jilted at the altar she falls into a descending madness. I enjoyed the story but felt it frustrating read as well. Even though Miss Havisham led a sheltered life, she came across as totally naïve and un intelligent ( in the way of human relationships). Also the story line stretched the imagination into ridiculous territory (Mr. Havisham had married a cook, and there was a half brother similar in age t ...more
Jennifer
2.75 stars
I never would've finished a paper version of this book
The first half is very slow and boring
Fiction State Of Mind
I enjoyed the first half of this book. Learning about Havisham's childhood was interesting as well as how her brother was introduced into the story. But I struggled a lot with the second half. Mostly because in Great Expectations it seemed Havisham snapped immediately after the jilting while in this book she plods around a bit and then seems to decide to go "mad" after discovering a secret about her jilted lover. The ending chapters just are a retelling of the original story which I didn't enjoy
Arianna
Sep 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bea-arc-2013
shelfnotes.com

Dear Reader,

I suppose the first question should be: does one have to have read Great Expectations before one reads Havisham? The answer, largely, is "no", but I think that you can't really get as much enjoyment or understanding out of the book if you haven't. Plus, Great Expectations is just SUCH a good book, why NOT read it?! :) However, much in the vein of Wicked alongside The Wizard of Oz, there will be plenty of characters and situations you will recognize almost like old frien
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Gerhard
Jun 16, 2014 rated it it was ok
The classic image of Miss Havisham in her decaying wedding dress, entombed in the mausoleum of Satis House, is surpassed by an even more disturbing image in Ronald Frame’s imagining of her back story: that of a young Catherine masturbating.

When we finally get to the epochal Wedding Day scene, I roundly cursed Frame for planting a seed of a thought in my mind, that Catherine Havisham responded in such a Grand Guignol fashion to being jilted because she instinctively knew she would now never be fu
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Ashley Steiner
I was so excited to read Havisham and the cover drew me in even more. Finally, we get to see a glimpse of the young Ms. Havisham and the mysterious man who broke her heart, causing her to become the famous recluse we’ve all come to know and love! Ms. Havisham is arguably the best female literary character of all time. She’s rich, unhinged, unapologetic, and set on destruction. Ronald Frame was given some of the greatest literary material to work with and unfortunately he dropped the ball.

Havisha
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Susan Trofatter
I love Dickens' Great Expectations which I reread from time to time. As I also taught it, I have probably read it 40-50 times. To say that I was excited to learn that a well-regarded Scottish author had written a prequel focusing on the early life of Miss Havisham is an understatement, to say the least. She is one of the most interesting characters ever created for a novel, and I have always thought that the mystery of her background made her so. I couldn't wait to read it, and it was on the top ...more
Andie
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miss Havisham is one of the most memorable of Dickens' characters and in Ronald Frame's novel he gives us her backstory and a first name - Catherine/ We find her in the beginning as a very young girl, the daughter of the wealthy owner of a Midlands brewery., whose mother has died giving her birth. She is a cosseted child who is dearly loved by her somewhat remote father, but strange things seem to be happening in their home. One of the servants, Mr. Bundy, seems to be more than a servant and a d ...more
Megan Richardson
Also reviewed at Owl You Need is a Good Read

When Dicken’s wrote Great Expectations, he created one of the most intriguing literary characters I’ve ever come across. The ghastly specter that was Miss Havisham is the most visual memorable character, although she’s not the lead in the story. Ronald Frame has taken her intrigue and attempts to tell the story of what came before. What happened in this woman’s past to make her so….let’s go with crazy.
When I saw that Gillian Anderson and Helena Bonham
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The Lit Bitch
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book you have to read with an open mind. Nothing is ever going to come close to the original Miss Havisham, but this novel gives reader a plausible back story to her character and what ‘might have been’.

Frame does a nice job creating developing Catherine’s character. I loved her strength, her general tenacity, and yes even her haughtiness. She was the perfect mixture of arrogant and hopelessly naivety, I loved that about this novel.

The reader couldn’t help but feel sorry for her. She w
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Samantha
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013-books
I was fortunate enough to get my hands on an advance copy courtesy of the publisher.

Havisham should be on your Fall Reading List.

Whether you’ve previously made the acquaintance of Miss Havisham before, or this is the first time you are encountering her– from the onset, you know that her tale will only end tragically. Readers who have visited her before in the pages of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, will be familiar with her adult-self, but will enjoy the depth of character that Frame’s na
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Ronald Frame was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1953, and educated there and at Oxford. He is the author of thirteen internationally published works of fiction, is an award-winning television and radio scriptwriter, and has recently received international recognition for his short stories set in the fictitious Scottish spa town of Carnbeg.

In 1984 he was joint-winner of the first Betty Trask Prize fo
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“Life is an enigma. We have to approach it not scientifically but poetically.” 6 likes
“We were perfectly decorous together. It took the will of both of us. I trusted him with me, and myself with him.” 4 likes
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