by Alanna Knight

Hardcover(1st U.S. ed)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312264697
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 05/01/1986
Edition description: 1st U.S. ed
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 10.00(w) x 2.00(h) x 7.00(d)

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Estella 2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
AdonisGuilfoyle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ridiculous 'parallel novel' to Dickens' 'Great Expectations', which can only be explained as a parody of mid-nineteenth century social conscience novels and really bad romances. My main issue with Estella's story, and I have many, is that it's based on a chronological displacement. Pip, and therefore Estella, who was of about the same age, were born at the turn of the nineteenth century, so how she reaches womanhood in the 1850s, around the time of the Great Exhibition and later the Crimean War, is a mystery. Although she is 'nearly thirty' for most of the book, too, so I can only assume that we are to take her as an unreliable narrator. (No wonder she can't have children, if she's really fifteen years older than she claims!)Secondly, from 'apologising' for the cruel, haughty, untouchable Estella of Dickens' work - 'None of you really knew me very well. I was not the girl I appeared to be but like an actress on the stage' - Alanna Knight loses sight of the original character altogether in the second half of the book. The mirroring of events in 'Great Expectations' presents Estella as almost having a split personality, saying one thing but protesting her innocence/goodness/true feelings in the narrative. As with all ambiguous heroines in 'modern' revisions, their lack of femininity must be explained or denied, and Knight's treatment of Estella is no different. There is even a benevolent maternal housekeeper 'below stairs' in Satis House to balance Miss Havisham's unnatural tutoring! Instead of cowardly backing down, a braver and far more intriguing development of Dickens' Estella would have been to follow the original template and show just how she was 'broken into a better shape', as she tells Pip, instead of protesting how genuine and earthy and loveable she really was throughout.Which leads me onto Knight's less than subtle preaching and moralising. Obviously disturbed by Estella's lofty position in 'Great Expectations', the author takes great pains to establish how nature is stronger than nurture by playing up Estella's gypsy roots, a common feature of romance novels. Estella is constantly harping on the plight of the poor, evenly randomly quoting a passage from Gaskell's 'Mary Barton' at one point. She may have been raised by a wealthy eccentric in a big house, and 'finished' in Paris so that she may better entrap a wealthy spouse, but Estella is all too aware of the poorer heads she has stepped on to get to the top. 'For indeed there was nothing I could do but make myself miserable at nights lying awake in my comfortable warm bed and pondering why the good Lord had not seen fit to allow me to sleep upon a filthy straw pallet in an overcrowded room'. No, really!Aside from the placating and pontificating, the actual plot is a ludicrous combination of Dickensian coincidences, Mills and Boon entanglements, Catherine Cookson hardships, and the occasional reappearance of secondary characters from 'Great Expectations'. After Drummle, her husband in Dickens' novel, Estella attaches herself to a perverted millowner, a gipsy, and a good doctor, loses various children of her own and adopts a daughter in the form of a plot device, runs away from being accused of murder twice, and is universally beloved by everybody. She ends up in Miss Havisham's dower house with her 'adopted' daughter and her beloved Pip, which came as no surprise - I was only wondering throughout how Knight would deal with the various husbands and lovers that Estella obviously doesn't have when Pip is reunited with her at the end of 'Great Expectations'.If, like me, Dickens' Estella intrigued and enchanted you, just remember that her name means 'little star' in Spanish, and she should therefore remain cold, brilliant and distant. This imagining of her life fills in few blanks and does her reputation no favours. (Also, the cover is horrendous - Estella has a ratty, ringletted mullet going on. That should have been ample warning as to the contents!)