Friday, March 16, 2012

an ode to a lady

I met her - at least the idea of her- when I was, I think, thirteen, and my aunt Sally thought somehow that I was mature, because I was creative, and told me I should read Great Expectations. And she told me all about Pip standing in the graveyard looking over his parents' graves. And she told me all about Miss. Havisham and the rats running across the wedding cake.

I so wanted to read and love this story, and I so couldn't wait to meet Miss Havisham. But I was the kind of thirteen that was really probably nine, and I wasn't ready. I didn't get past the graveyard. My attention was pulled to Stephen King, to the Three Investigators, to easier stories with easier language. Growing up, I was always ashamed of this, but I always held Miss Havisham somewhere inside me.

Later I met her in the movies, Anne Bancroft playing the part in 1998, and I knew then, even though I hadn't even read the book, that you couldn't do Miss Havisham in the movies.

But tonight, at forty [what is it?] two years old, I finally really met her in all her glorious words. Listening to the audio book in the kitchen as I licked the beaters clean of mashed potatoes, making colcannon, with an almost patient dog staring from the floor, waiting for me to drop him another shred of cabbage.


  1. Funny, this, what you have written. Though I wouldn't have said Anne Bancroft was half bad, if you were to have asked me. And I think, rather, that Martita Hunt had done the job quite nicely, if we was to speak of that older film, of 1946 were it, in her impersonating of the said Miss Havisham. At least that were my thinking.

    [If I read much more Dickens, I might start talking like this all the time....]

  2. I'd like to see how long you could sustain talking like that!

    I hope it didn't seem like I dissed Ms. Bancroft, who I really like, and who I liked in the film. It just seemed like... doing Miss Havisham is doing Miss Havisham, like a character like that is more easily aped than inhabited. Not because of the actresses but because she's just so formidably particular.