Wednesday, January 18, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: GREAT EXPECTATIONS



I thoroughly enjoyed Great Expectations this time around. I listened to most of the book. Reading this text would have been exhausting and discouraging. Glad I was able to white knuckle through it. It was a gem of a novel. Everytime I read Dickens, I gain so much more respect for him. Great storytelling. So much imagery.
 
Favorite quotes:
 
“It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home.”
 
"You should know," said Estella. "I am what you have made me. Take all the praise, take all the blame; take all the success, take all the failure; in short, take me."
 
“Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be. Once for all; I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had no more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection.”
 
 
“Such things as could be said for him, were said -- how he had taken to industrious habits, and had thriven lawfully and reputably. But, nothing could unsay the fact that he had returned, and was there in presence of the Judge and Jury. It was impossible to try him for that, and do otherwise than find him guilty.”
 
 
“…when suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but -- I hope -- into a better shape.”
 
Reflections:
 
We come from different worlds. Our ideas on love, family, friendships, self-improvement are varied and on opposite ends of the spectrum at best. I think love should be an all-consuming fire, he sees me as smothering him. I come from a family that tears you down and won’t stop till you are either broken and defeated or rise up as a cold blooded snake. He comes from a place of acceptance and belonging that I really will never know or understand. He doesn’t really have the tools to deal with the impeding bitterness of chronic pain or my cruel nature, so he stays silent. I have learned to value my friends, my tribe, as a lifeline and can’t stand to be cooped up in the house on a Friday night. I have a passion for movement, for exploring, for reading, for lifestyle guides and any productivity course. He’s seems ok in static conditions.
 
We both have different ideas on marriage and neither of us want to move out of our expectation circle and meet somewhere in the middle in this Venn diagram. For me, it would require sacrifice, work, change, shedding of a snakeskin I’ve become very comfortable in. If I’m being really honest, I think I’ve done enough work, made enough sacrifices and shed many skins and tears only to come back to the same places asking the same questions. I’m done talking now. My voice has fallen on deaf ears and the screams have taken their toll; the cords no longer work. All those times he didn’t hear me are seared and branded on me. He seems to have the luxury of forgetting. These years have been long, exhausting and discouraging. This isn’t a new story. It’s been told many times before in many ways. They tried to warn us how hard marriage can be. We were ruthless in our endeavors. We were going to be the exception. No one tells you of the many heartbreaks that lie ahead. We invested too much in a childhood fairy tale. There is joy, bitterness, pain, disappointments, sorrow and happiness. These all can coexist in the same time, same place, and in the same body. Sometimes, love isn’t the answer. Rejection is inevitable. Romeo has returned to a dead Juliet.
 
This endured suffering will make us stronger, bolder. It will break us, bend us, mold us into better people. One day we will have wisdom and strength of character. For now, as we muddle through the dark trenches, we try and find the gentle flicker of light.

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