Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones
‘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.
I found this to be an incredible book. I loved it from the first page. Jones touches on the issues of race and civil war. It was interesting watching the battle between Mr. Watts and his book Great Expectations and Matilda’s mum and her Bible. Jones wrote this so well, expressing the naivety of the islanders in a sensitive manner.
There are some heart breaking moments throughout the book which actually added to the magic of the book as it drew you in more.
My favourite character was Mr. Watts, even after his ex-wife’s story. He was sensitive and brave. He stood out for being the only white man in the village but that didn’t seem to faze him at all. He stood up and was counted, and I liked that in him.
8/10 – a good read