Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
Orbis Terrarum (New Zealand), Man Booker Challenge (shortlist 2007)
This is my second book this year with many references to Dickens' Great Expectations ( Lost in a Good Book had Mrs Havisham as a major character) and I am feeling like I've read the book with out having to have actually read the book. I am not sure what I expected from this book, but the devastation during war, and the lost of innocence portrayed was a little surprising. My naivete also rose up, as life on the Pacific island of Bourgainville in 1992, was shockingly primitive and the war that raged there was unknown to me.
Matilda narrates her tale during this wartime, her battles with her mother, and her introduction to Great Expectations by Mr Watts, the only white man in their village who acts as a teacher. There are some abrupt changes in mood, necessitated by Matilda's view as an adult looking back at the events as a way to understand them. The rebels and the red faced guerrillas both wreck havoc on the village and the people living there.
This is one of those books where I sense there are big ideas being discussed at a different level, but I am missing them. I still enjoyed the book and the view of a much different life and the connections to Great Expectations. Some classic books seem so important that they lend themselves to other books written around them. That's pretty impressive for Mr Dickens. So far I'd say this was the strongest of the short list contenders for last year's Man Booker, ahead of On Chesil Beach and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, both of which were good, but underwhelming. Next will be the winner - The Gathering, so I'm getting a good taste of the nominated books.
also reviewed by: katrina here and marg here