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Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Mister Pip (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Lloyd Jones

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,637None2,263 (3.79)359
Title:Mister Pip
Authors:Lloyd Jones
Info:The Dial Press (2007), Hardcover, 272 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Modern New Zealand Lit.

Work details

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones (2006)

  1. 40
    Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (cbl_tn, HelenGress)
    cbl_tn: Mister Pip explores the reading and interpretation of Great Expectations in a late 20th century South Sea island culture in the midst of a civil war.
  2. 20
    Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2810michael)
  3. 20
    Small Island by Andrea Levy (kathrynnd)
  4. 21
    The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne (Booksloth)
  5. 10
    Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2810michael)
  6. 43
    Life of Pi by Yann Martel (Booksloth)
  7. 10
    The Other Hand by Chris Cleave (Booksloth, 2810michael)
  8. 00
    Jack Maggs by Peter Carey (chanale)
    chanale: both novels that revisit Great Expectations
  9. 00
    Wanting by Richard Flanagan (2810michael)
    2810michael: Mostly because of the role of Charles Dickens in both books...
  10. 00
    Monkey Beach by Eden Robinson (kathrynnd)
  11. 00
    Mr. Timothy by Louis Bayard (bnbookgirl)
    bnbookgirl: tiny tim all grown up

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» See also 359 mentions

English (140)  Danish (2)  Spanish (2)  Swedish (2)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  All languages (149)
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
“You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames.”

Matilda is a headstrong intelligent girl rebelling against her conservative mother in the absence of her working father, making and losing friends in the village and courting the favour of her teacher by throwing herself headlong into a fictional world. So far, so coming-of-age story. Except Matilda lives on “the island” (Bougainville), and the “redskins” and the “rambos” are fighting for independence and Matilda’s village has been cut off from the rest of the world for a few years. Surrounded by chaos, Matilda is entranced by her teacher’s reading of Great Expectations.

The infatuation with Dickens’ Victorian England, with Pip, the loyalty to whom exceeds all reason and some sanity, the jealousy of Estella, is both cute and satisfying. Matilda is transfixed by this other world, the idea of a frosty morning, the idea of London, when she knows nothing more than her tropical cul-de-sac. She takes ownership of Pip fiercely, passionately. But I think all avid readers like to see reading and literature worshipped; a validation of our own addiction. And so I loved Matilda for her need of the story, her yearning for the next chapter.

Jones has written amazing characters in this novel. Mr Watts the stranded white man, displaying public and private loyalty to his mad wife, earning the derision of the villagers. Mr Watts the teacher, stepping in when the government teachers were extracted to safety, teaching the one text he knew and loved and happened to have with him. Mr Watts the peacemaker, keeping the rambos occupied with fireside stories from his early life to keep the fragile calm intact.

Dolores* tries to hold her life together with both hands, to keep her daughter on the straight and narrow, and isn’t afraid to storm into the classroom and tell tales of witches and devils to counteract Mr Watts and his apathetic atheism. She is stubbornly faithful to all she holds dear, even at exceptional personal cost.

Susan Lyons reads this exceptionally – a quiet Pacific island accent for Matilda, a much stronger one for Dolores, and shades of Australian when needed. I assume Lyons is Australian although you wouldn’t know it from the consistency of Matilda’s voice.

Definitely, definitely recommended. Beware the sudden violence about 75% of the way through though.

*I can’t ever write or say the word “Dolores” without thinking it should be followed by “Landingham”, after President Bartlet’s beloved executive assistant in West Wing. ( )
1 vote readingwithtea | Dec 18, 2013 |
Alternately heartwarming and terrifying, this book is about a white man on a Papua New Guinea island who reads Great Expectations aloud to a class of blacks. It's about the power of books to touch us and to destroy us, about their ability to change us and our ability and inability to change them back. Reading is awesome, and so is being a gentleman, but neither is easy.
  Stevil2001 | Oct 29, 2013 |
What a strange book. One I won't quickly forget. The first 3/4 of the book seemed quite lovely--a book about a book. The book is "Great Expectations" and is the only book the school or the schoolteacher has. And what a strange schoolteacher. The book has a delightful almost lyrical tilt to it until the violence of modern day terrorist warfare rears its ugly head. The ending is OK but you can't help but feel empathy for Matilda and all she has gone through. Not exactly for the feinthearted. ( )
  bibliophileofalls | Sep 23, 2013 |
"You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames."

Mr. Watts is the main character and he takes over the task of schoolteacher to impoverished island children, and their parents, by reading Great Expectations to them. As the local community becomes enthralled with the story, modern life intercedes and the masterpiece literally takes on a life of its own.

What the Dickens, indeed. Here is a rather delicate read that does take some time to get going...then starts to slide...then takes off running toward the end. Perhaps because I've taken Mr. Dickens with me to desert islands on my travels, I rather enjoyed it.

It's a real Pip.

Book Season = Summer (white sands, blue sea)

( )
1 vote Gold_Gato | Sep 16, 2013 |
Many have summarized the story which in itself is spellbinding; I knew nothing of the conditions of the Civil War in this part of the world and it was interesting to hear it told from "the ground up" -- from the eyes of a young woman living through it.

The writing in this book is just beautiful. It was one that when I finished the last page, I immediately went back to the first to begin again. The character of Matilda is one that I will long remember. The author has managed to tell a wonderful story in such a readable and memorable manner. The language is beautiful but not overdone; the sentences are short and filled with impact. I don't think there is a spare word in the entire book. There is unspeakable violence in the book, but it is never overdone, and the affect of the violence on the individuals of the island helps explain that seemingly blank look we see too often on TV news clips of violence in third world countries.

Although I was familiar with Great Expectations, I don't believe one would have to be because this is a story about a story and its impact on a young girl. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants a truly thought provoking yet readable and loving book (there is a lot of love in this book). ( )
1 vote maryreinert | Aug 17, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 140 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lloyd Jonesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hyllienmark, OlovTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'Characters migrate.' Umberto Eco
To my family
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Everyone called him Pop Eye.
"...you cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames." (page 155)"
"A Prayer was like a tickle. Sooner or later God would have to look down to see what was tickling his bum."
I do not know what you are supposed to do with memories likes these. It feels wrong to want to forget. Perhaps this is why we write these things down, so we can move on."
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Book description
'You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames.'

Bougainville. 1991. A small village on a lush tropical island in the South Pacific. Eighty-six days have passed since Matilda's last day of school as, quietly, war is encroaching from the other end of the island.

When the villagers' safe, predictable lives come to a halt, Bougainville's children are surprised to find the island's only white man, a recluse, re-opening the school. Pop Eye, aka Mr Watts, explains he will introduce the children to Mr Dickens. Matilda and the others think a foreigner is coming to the island and prepare a list of much needed items. They are shocked to discover their acquaintance with Mr Dickens will be through Mr Watts' inspiring reading of Great Expectations.

But on an island at war, the power of fiction has dangerous consequences. Imagination and beliefs are challenged by guns. Mister Pip is an unforgettable tale of survival by story; a dazzling piece of writing that lives long in the mind after the last page is finished.
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385341075, Paperback)

In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives.

On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.

So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, “A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe.” Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:37:31 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, on which survival is a daily struggle, eccentric Mr. Watts, the only white man left after the other teachers flee, spends his day reading to the local children from Charles Dickens' classic Great Expectations.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 1921145579, 1921520248

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