As the idea and Dickens's ambition grew, he began writing. However, in September, the weekly All the Year Round saw its sales fall, and its flagship publication, A Day's Ride by Charles Lever , lost favour with the public. Dickens "called a council of war", and believed that to save the situation, "the one thing to be done was for [him] to strike in."  The "very fine, new and grotesque idea" became the magazine's new support: weeklies, five hundred pages, just over one year (1860–1861), thirty-six episodes, starting 1 December. The magazine continued to publish Lever's novel until its completion on 23 March 1861,  but it became secondary to Great Expectations . Immediately, sales resumed, and critics responded positively, as exemplified by The Times ' s praise: " Great Expectations is not, indeed, [Dickens's] best work, but it is to be ranked among his happiest." 
And yet, I still loved this book—mostly thanks to Niamh. Niamh’s story is painful and heartbreaking, but even in its darkest moments, it still paints a picture of a resilient girl who’s determined to survive—and, against all odds, to keep finding reasons for hope. Which is to say that despite the weaknesses in Molly’s story, Niamh’s more than made up for it. I felt every pinprick during her forced labor in the sewing operation. I felt every pang of desperation as she dealt with the lice-ridden, neglected children at her next woebegone foster home. And I nearly cried with relief at the little kindnesses bestowed upon her by a tender-hearted teacher—a character so real and wonderful that she sprang right off the page.
In September 2007, Serene wrote a cryptic essay for Above Rubies about situations mothers might face “that seem out of your control or even out of your children’s control.” The magazine, which had previously resembled a doting grandmother’s scrapbook, began mentioning the Liberian children less and less frequently, but they were there between the lines as Campbell wrote about the need for strict discipline to bring about harmony in the home. “If you have to have a little war before you have peace,” she wrote, “don’t be afraid.”