Perhaps it is because I had my expectations set so low that I enjoyed the book so much. I admit, there were parts that dragged, but for the most part, I found it quite engaging. There are characters I've heard about all my life, like Pip and Miss Havisham.
There is a lot about the stratified classes here. Pip, the protagonist, starts out poor and then climbs his way out of poverty with the help of an anonymous benefactor. But this isn't America we're talking about. Becoming upper class isn't a matter of getting money or access to money. There are a hundred different things that give you away as coming from dirt. Let me share with you a delightful passage. Directly after being told that has this benefactor, Pip is sent to London to get an education by tutor, Mr. Pocket. He fact becomes friends with Mr. Pocket's son and asks him that, since he "knew very little of the ways of politeness, I would take it as a great kindness in him if he would give me a hint whenever he saw me at a loss or going wrong."
Can you imagine a more gentle remonstration?We had made some progress in the dinner, when I reminded Herbert of his promise to tell me about Miss Havisham."True," he replied. "I'll redeem it at once. Let me introduce the topic, [Pip], by mentioning that in London it is not the custom to put the knife in the mouth—for fear of accidents—and that while the fork is reserved for that use, it is not put further in than necessary. It is scarcely worth mentioning, only it's as well to do as other people do. Also, the spoon is not generally used over-hand, but under. This has two advantages. You get at your mouth better (which after all is the object), and you save a good deal of the attitude of opening oysters, on the part of the right elbow."
* Wow, the word unusual has the letter "u" three times.