Sunday 23 April 2023

Book Review: Estella by Kathy George (Historical Fiction/Retelling)

Title: Estella
Author: Kathy George
Publisher: HQ Fiction AU
Publication Date: 3 May 2023
Pages: 400
Format: eBook - PDF
Genre: Historical Fiction/Retelling
Source: ARC via NetGalley

At just three years of age, Estella is taken from her mother, adopted by the wealthy but eccentric Miss Havisham and taught how to break men's hearts. Satis House is dark and oppressive and life with the vengeful Miss Havisham a confusion of contradictory lessons, but the kindness of the household cook and Estella's love of the nearby marshes bring her some joy. Forced to play with Pip, a local boy from a lowly background, Estella captivates his soul and breaks his heart, exactly as Miss Havisham has planned.

Years later, Estella returns from school in France as a young woman and is thrust into London society. There she meets Pip again, who has acquired an unknown benefactor and come into money. Miss Havisham recruits Pip to help find Estella a husband, much to her distress. She seems forever fated to be the plaything of others, locked into the destructive cycles her adoptive mother set in motion.

Estella is beautiful, headstrong, enigmatic - but who is she, really? Will she ever be able to break free from the constraints of society's expectations and her own childhood? Will Estella finally find a way to tell her own story?

This evocative and mesmerising retelling of
Great Expectations sheds light on a little understood character in one of Dickens's most beloved novels.


I found it hard to decide how I felt about Estella when I turned the final page. On the plus side it offered a well-rounded view of a female character only seen through the male gaze in the original novel. The book was generally well written, save for a few historical inaccuracies, some of which the author commented on in the end matter; meanwhile, the prose was atmospheric and set the scene beautifully. However, I never fully engaged with the story or came to care deeply for Estella as I read. I always felt somewhat detached, my mind working to compare everything against the original novel every time such scenes presented. In some ways, I wonder if this book will better suit readers who aren't as familiar with the source material and therefore have no preconceptions about the characters and their actions. I will personally give this book three stars. It was by no means a bad read; it just lacked that extra spark I was looking for.

I received this book as a free eBook ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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