Friday, 18 September 2009

Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones

This week, I read Mister Pip (2006) by Wellington author Lloyd Jones. The book has been lined up for (and received) various literary accolades, including being longlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Mister Pip is set on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea in the 1990s. It is narrated by Matilda, a 15 year old girl living on the island with her mother while her father is seeking work in Australia. Civil war breaks out and Matilda's village is now totally isolated from the rest of the world. Mr Watts, an eccentric old man and the only white person on the island, volunteers to reopen the village school.

With no resources except one book, Mr Watts introduces the village's children to the great author Charles Dickens (or Mr Dickens, as he is referred to) by reading aloud one chapter of Great Expectations (1861) each day. For Matilda, this is the start of a lifelong love of Dickens and literature in general, even though 1860s London couldn't be further from her life. The class get to know the character of Pip. However, their relationship is complicated and the consequences for the village are devastating.

Mister Pip is delightfully told and a fantastic read. It is a novel which pays tribute to the power of storytelling and literature and shows how books can change lives.


Sab said...

Papua New Guinea is where my aunt and uncle were for a number of years serving as missionaries and translating the Bible into their tongue. That is neat... it sounds like an interesting book.

anothercookiecrumbles said...

Truer words than your last sentence have never been spoken.

Thanks for the review - am really happy you enjoyed this book, for I recently read it, and loved it as well. It's such a clever interesting plot, isn't it?