Saturday, April 19, 2008

BOOK: Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

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


  1. Oh, that sounds so good. I'm going to rush right over and add it to my wish list. You haven't read Great Expectations? You must, you must. It's so much better than I expected. Ha, expected. Okay, going back under my rock, now.

  2. Sounds really interesting--and a great choice of the OT challenge. I agree with Bookfool--read Great Expectations. Dickens has such an interesting sense of humor (I've noticed that I say "interesting" a lot...need to think of a different word).

  3. bookfool - ha! I expected comments like that :)I haven't read hardly any Dickens. Mister Pip relates so much to GE. Feel free to stay out from under the rock.

    trish - I find it interesting that I've been noticing I use that word a lot in my reviews! It was used for New Zealand in the challenge, but I think it was set on a tiny island near NZ. It sounded beautiful.

  4. I really like books that surprise and open my eyes to bits of history that I am unaware of. This really sounds good and I enjoyed this review a lot. Going to keep my eyes open for this one...

  5. I haven't read Great Expectations either...but this one does sound really good to me anyway. You are a great reviewer!

    I always look into moving to New husband finding work there and buying some land and animals...oh, sorry...I am daydreaming again!!

    Great review!

  6. paula - hope you enjoy it. It was a different part of the world, for sure.

    bethany - thanks for the compliment. NZ is not a country I've read a lot about, but I really liked The Bone People. Maybe someday you'll get to live there.

  7. I've just finished reading ths and I loved it, I was shocked at what happened and I had no idea about the war either.
    Hope you don't mind I've linked your review to mine. Mine can be found here:

  8. You and I had almost the exact same read (haha!) on this book re: I know something big was going on just under the surface, but I think I sort of missed it...

    I also had no idea about this little bit of history and I was surprised at how recent it was. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that it was taking place in the 1950s or something.

    I read Great Expectations in high school and really liked it-it's one of those that I'm going to go back and read again...someday.


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