Her dove-blue silken frock

Somewhere; courtyard dressed in shadows of the gloomy skies reeking from the marshes; the young orphan glances through gauzy curtains for just a fleeting glimpse of a dove-blue silken frock.

Finally free from being brought up ‘by hand’ he yearns to light the moldy candles; see them sparkle in her eyes; silencing the swirling specks of dreamy dust.

“A game of cards, Pip” – the old woman’s voice fills his chest with great expectations and dread as he hears the crazy door opening behind him.

Estella, graceful as usual, throws a contemptuous glance at his workman’s boots.

“Yes, Miss Havisham”

Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

Copyright – Jan Wayne Fields

The picture prompt brought my mind to the dining room of Miss Havisham of Great Expectations (not at all that it seems untidy). I tried to work with my punctuation and language to bring some of Dickens’ language to life again. Maybe this is just an exercise rather than true fiction, but I hope you still enjoy it. Primarily that the characters are brought to life OK, even if you haven’t read the book.

Friday Fictioneers is a blog-community in the faithful hands of Rochelle Wissoff-Fields. The challenge is easy enough. 100 words, the same picture, and read a lot of good stories.

January 14, 2014

83 responses to “Her dove-blue silken frock

  1. This is weird. Weird because I read it once and most of it fell out of my head as I got to the end. Yet I knew I still liked it. Furthermore I get to go read it again!

  2. Dear Bjorn,

    I haven’t read the book, but I love what you did with the language in your story. It was dreamy and ancient and otherworldly, just like the prompt.



  3. That was very atmospheric, but I’ve always been a lover of that particular scene from Great Expectations. (Despite what Gillian Anderson managed to do it in a recent adaptation.) Nice work, Bjorn.

  4. I haven’t read the book so I can’t speak to the language, but as to whether or not this was just an exercise or true fiction, I’d side with true fiction. Well-written true fiction.

  5. Ah our poor Pip. He’s in for a world of misery. I’m glad that you share my love of Dickens. He’s brilliant. He’s also written some rather riveting ghost stories…

  6. Bjorn,
    I enjoyed your exercise. Of course, since Dickens was payed by the word and made no attempt to veil the fact that he was using every word he possibly could in telling his tales just so he could garner a reasonable paycheck, there comes some difficulty in capturing his tone in a mere 100 words. However, I think you did a great job of capturing the essence of the Dickensian tale. I’ve often thought the man could have used a good editor to whittle his stories down a bit.

    Nice work this week!

    All my best,
    Marie Gail

  7. Excellent connection! I loved Great Expectations. It was assigned reading over the holiday break when I was in grade school, long ago. Terrific work, Björn.

  8. I think you did quite swell my friend and I am a huge fan of Dickens, as well as all the major literary classical authors. Poe, Frost, Dickens, Jane Austin..(Huge Jane Austin Fan) Thoreau. Alexander Pope is another one, if you’re not familiar with him, I think you would appreciate some of his poetry. I really love what you did here!

  9. i haven’t read great expectations, so i guess this was about a scene in the book. if i were to rewrite it, i will switch the position of the last two paragraphs.

    • Ah.. yes I can understand that when you read an excerpt,, But the focus in this scene from Dickens’ point of view is at this time more on the play between Pip and Miss Haversham (the old lady). Estella and Pip are mere tools in the old lady’s plot in manipulating them…

  10. What Dickens I’ve read has usually spooked me – as your piece did. I liked the “gauzy curtains ” effect.

    You never know when you’ll be able to use pieces of this exercise.


  11. Miss Havisham…the featured villain in the required H.S. reading. (hisssssss). Loved seeing Dickens appearing in a FF prompt. Nice job.

  12. Beautiful descriptions, particularly ‘courtyard dressed in shadows of the gloomy skies’ giving a sense of the place. Pip’s dreaminess comes across really well too. Much enjoyed.

  13. Writing is always an exercise. (And ‘no pain, no gain.’)

    One other thing: you might want to fix the ‘hoe’ in “Primarily I hoe the characters”…

  14. As I live withing walking distance of the real ‘Satis House’ and almost opposite ‘Restoration House’ which actually inspired the Satis House of Great Expectations, I can appreciate your modern take on this. 🙂

      • I’ve recently read ‘Havisham’ which is about her upbringing, if you’re interested. Its entertaining, but I don’t think it explains satisfactorily how she ended up so sick and twisted. There are two Dickens festivals here every year, when Miss Havisham wanders up and down the High Street, along with a crowd of other Dickensian characters. Sometimes, she’s on stilts. Don’t ask me why!

  15. I love your opening paragraph, how it captures my feeling seeing the photo. I haven’t read the book but now I want to! It might be awhile before I do. I have a whole pile on my list.


  16. I just love your word choices, Bjorn. Dickens I believe was very economical with his word choices. Yours have a true beauty to them and read like poetry. My favorite is your first sentence. It has such a dreamy quality to it. I want to walk into this world.

  17. It’s interesting that the picture reminded you of Great Expectations and I really enjoyed how you used the scene. You have some lovely descriptive words and phrases, like ‘gauzy curtains’ and ‘courtyard dressed in shadows . . .’ The snippet of dialogue is used very effectively.

  18. Beautifully done, Bjorn. I especially like the fact that you started the setting description with the word “Somewhere.” It makes it a story anyone can fit into. And I love “silencing the swirling specks of dreamy dust.” Perfect. In fact, if you don’t mind, I’m saving this paragraph to use as an example of the most excellent use of alliteration in a prose piece in order to share it with my Creative Writing students. (I’ll give you credit, of course.)

    I also thought of Dickens almost immediately, but I just sort of borrowed the seed of “Great Expectations” and tweaked it a little.

    • Ah. I will go an read yours immediately.. The idea of having the first word be somewhere is actually borrowed from the first sentence of Bleak House that only says London.
      Of course you are allowed to use my writing as example..

      • Thanks. There’s something about giving students examples from authors who are currently living and writing that seems to have a more powerful effect than just using the old, classic examples all the time.

  19. Björn, I hadn’t thought about Great Expectations, but this photo did in fact have that same feel. Wonderful job of pulling that out of the photo and weaving a wonderful atmospheric piece. Love it!

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