HAVISHAM IS THE ASTONISHING PRELUDE TO CHARLES DICKENS'S GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
Before she became the immortal and haunting Miss Havisham of Great Expectations, she was Catherine, a young woman with all of her dreams ahead of her. Spry, imperious, she is the daughter of a wealthy brewer. But she is never far from the smell of hops and the arresting letters on the brewhouse wall—HAVISHAM—a reminder of all she owes to the family name and the family business.
Sent by her father to stay with the Chadwycks, Catherine discovers elegant pastimes to remove the taint of her family's new money. But for all her growing sophistication, Catherine is anything but worldly, and when a charismatic stranger pays her attention, everything—her heart, her future, the very Havisham name—is vulnerable.
In Havisham, Ronald Frame unfurls the psychological trauma that made young Catherine into Miss Havisham and cursed her to a life alone, roaming the halls of the mansion in the tatters of the dress she wore for the wedding she was never to have.
A Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Book of 2013
This stylish but dour "prelude" to Charles Dickens's classic Great Expectations comes from Glaswegian dramatist and author Frame (The Lantern Bearers). Catherine Havisham grows up in privilege and leisure at the imposing Satis House, courtesy of her affluent father, Joseph, who runs the most prosperous brewery in North Kent and ships her off to the aristocratic Chadwyck family to polish her social graces. Joseph, a widower, sparks his teenage daughter's resentment by disclosing he has remarried, though his second wife has since died, and Catherine also comes to loathe her ne'er-do-well half-brother, Arthur, after he begins living with them. She falls in love with the dashing racetrack gambler Charles Compeyson, and Joseph dies, leaving her the brewery. She becomes engaged to Charles, who wants to manage the Havisham brewery. However, Charles jilts his would-be bride, and Catherine's life descends into seclusion and a slow madness; she wears only her wedding dress while living in the decaying mansion. After adopting a young girl, Estella, Catherine ages into the cynical spinster depicted in Great Expectations. Frame offers a convincing recreation of the iconic Dickens character, but his tale suffers from centering on such an unappealing protagonist.