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Mister Pip [Paperback]

Lloyd Jones
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

10 Jan 2008

'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.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray; Reprint edition (10 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071956994X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719569944
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,148 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'It's clear from the first page that this is prize-winning stuff... Being a truthful writer, Jones sees nothing neither his heroes nor his villains in black and white. His is a bold inquiry into the way that we construct and repair our communities, and ourselves, with stories old and new' (The Times)

'In this dazzling story-within-a-story, Jones has created a microcosm of post-colonial literature, hybridising the narratives of back and white races to create a new and resonant fable ... There is a fittingly dreamy lyrical quality to Jones's writing, along with an acute ear for the earthly harmonies of village speech ... Mister Pip is the first of Jones's six novels to have travelled from his native New Zealand to the UK. It is so hoped that it won't be the last' (Observer)

'Mister Pip is a poignant and impressive work which can take its place alongside the classical novels of adolescence' (Times Literary Supplement)

'A major word-of-mouth bestseller' (Sue Baker, Publishing News)

Intriguing and memorable (Glasgow Herald)

'Cleverly encapsulating what it is to be an orphan, an immigrant or a person dispossessed of a regular beat of life, this extraordinary story...' (Good Housekeeping)

'Exotic locations add a dreamy quality to ... Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones ... Jones' lyrical novel centres around a group of children in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, during the civil war in the Nineties' (Vogue)

'Morally subtle, Mister Pip has none of arid cleverness that often mars novels about books, making it a worthy winner of this year's Commonwealth Writers' Prize' (Daily Mail)

'Darker and more morally complex than it appears ... Lloyd Jones gives the tired post-colonial themes of self-reinvention and the reinterpretation of classic texts a fresh, ingenious twist but his real achievement is bringing life and depth to his characters' (Sunday Telegraph)

'A must-read tale of survival by storytelling' (Image Magazine (Ireland))

'A novel that, with amplitude and ease, affirms the acts of reading and writing as precious pursuits, as acts of survival, escape, renewal' (Scotsman)

'The value of moral fiction as a means of dealing with super-heated reality is the theme that gives this book exotic enchantment as a fable for our times' (Saga Magazine)

'(A) rather strange, quite wonderful book ... Singular in its vision and muscular in its prose, you won't forget this in a hurry' (thelondonpaper)

'An intelligent novel that says as much about the power of reading as it does about bloodshed and loss' (New Statesman)

'Mister Pip is a powerful and humane novel from one of New Zealand's top writers' (Financial Times Magazine)

A captivating read (Metro London)

'Judges described it as a "mesmerising story showing how books can change lives in utterly surprising ways" ' (Independent)

'Rarely ... can any novel have combined charm, horror and uplift in quite such superabundance' (D. J. Taylor, Independent)

'Lloyd Jones brings to life the transformative power of fiction ... The experience of reading in this book is tangible ...This is a beautiful book. It is tender, multi-layered and redemptive' (Sunday Times)

'Magical and enchanting' (Woman Magazine)

'A dazzling piece of writing that lives long in the mind after the last page is finished' (Whitefriars Magazine)

'A mega-good read' (Dovegreyreader Blog)

Moving (Sunday Telegraph)

Poignant, haunting and profoundly humane (Sunday Times)

Unforgettable (Bookseller)

'It's a wonderfully refreshing book which gives you much to think about long after finishing' (Psychologies)

'Incredible, one of the best reading experiences I've had' (Janie Dee, Daily Express)

Book Description

A book can change your life forever...

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
This is a very interesting book indeed. The central character is a young girl caught up in civil unrest on an island in New Guinea. When all those who are able to flee the island do so, the only remaining white man, a somewhat eccentric New Zealander, begins teaching the island's children. He is not a teacher by trade and the only text he has at his disposal is a well-worn copy of Great Expectations. The scene is set for the author to explore some very interesting themes - the clash of Western and tribal cultures, the role stories play in our lives (both our own and those from literature), the way grasping an opportunity can change our lives forever, the horrors of civil unrest.....Along the way we are treated to some truly insightful moments and some intriguing plot twists. Then somewhere near the end things go wrong. None of the ideas that have been taken up are brought to a satisfactory conclusion and the plot just seems to fade away into oblivion. I would still recommend reading the book. It is conceptually interesting and ambitious, but somehow doesn't quite get where it wants to go.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ashendon book group say 19 Jun 2008
By Sian
Bougainville is a real place - it is a small island located between Papua New Guinea and The Solomon Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The islands were German territory, handed to Australia who handed them to Papua New Guinea. Then copper was discovered and Australian mining companies moved in causing awful pollution. The islanders wanted their island and civil war ensued. Papua New Guinea was told to deal with it, by the Australians, and so blockaded Bougainville. The islanders who had enjoyed modern lifestyles and comforts were, in their isolation, sunk further and further into self-sufficiency and basic living standards. At the hands of the `Redskin' Papua New Guinea forces they also suffered unspeakable and inhumane acts of cruelty and violence.

Some of us wished we had known that before we read the book.

The book had mixed feedback from the group. No one really raved about it but some felt it was a `reading experience' and an amazing idea. One thing we all agreed is that the book only really gets going in the last 40 pages and what happens was totally unexpected.

Like `A Thousand Splendid Suns' we felt the author dealt with the subject matter in a very matter of fact style - much of what occurred was simply stated and had no need for more description.

Much of our conversation, surrounding the book, dug deep into the psyche of Mr Watts (Pop Eye) and his motivations.

We loved Matilda, particularly her character, her morals and her loyalties. We felt her Mum was well meaning, though narrow in her views. Her strength of faith and `preaching' becomes credible as the book moves on, as does her efforts to protect her daughter.

Would we recommend it? Mainly no, though some of us definitely will recommend this book to carefully selected others.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very enjoyable! 1 Jan 2009
This is a heart-warming story seen through the eyes of a young girl named Matilda. Living on the island of Bougainville at a time of war, the story follows her life after the last boat departs, leaving the island's remaining inhabitants to try and carry on with their lives as best as they can. Mr Watts is the only white man on the island and he becomes the self-appointed teacher for the children in absence of their usual school schedule. His only teaching tool is Dickens' Great Expectations and through this book the children and the reader can escape from the terrible war that the island face. The book provides a world for the children on the island to escape to so they can think about the individual characters and how they relate to each of them. Mister Pip has a magical feel to it and combines the emotions of surprise, love, devastation, heartache fear and hope. As the reader you never really know what to expect as you turn each page but I was never disappointed. The writer worked hard to keep the magical ways of Great expectations alive and through this managed to provide a touching, hopeful story of a young girl at a time of war. The reader joins Matilda on her journey and learns to love her and feel for her during the life events that she goes through. A very good read that I thoroughly enjoyed and I would strongly recommend.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An exercise in different types of storytelling 27 Jun 2008
The main story unfolds in the exotic, and for most readers little-known location of the islands adjacent to Papua New Guinea, itself one of the newer indepdendent states. An accident of history placed the island of Bougainville, occupied by Melanesians ('blacks') and geographically part of the Solomon Islands, with the racially distinct Papua New Guinea ('Redskins'), leading to a rebellion against the mainland government in 1975 and an all-out war from 1990. Mr Pip is set in the context of the latter, with rural communities trying to exist in what was dismissed as a civil conflict by the outside world, but which could also be described as a liberation struggle against a new set of colonial masters.

In this environment it is difficult for great literature to survive. However, Mr Pip, the rather eccentric and tatterdemalion outsider, becomes almost by default the conduit whereby one literary classic, Great Expectations will live on, inspiring the young islander Matilda to become a Dickens expert herself and thus a conveyor of a literary tradition (possibly eventually to her own people).

Such is the main story - nothing really exceptional. What is unusual is the way Lloyd Jones has added other layers of story-telling. We discover that Mr Pip has told an over-simplified version of Dickens to the village children. Then, when the book is destroyed in the violence inflicted by outsiders, the children gather together their fragments of memory and create a new narrative. Their success is one of the positive features of an otherwise rather depressing novel, indicating that great novels that inspire will not die even if they physically perish.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
I bought this to help me study for my GCSE English Language course, as I prefer listening to stories rather than reading them. Read more
Published 15 days ago by harriet
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
This book is well worth reading well written. Have read this book for book club certainly initially thought it must have been referring to 1800`s so was surprised when it was set... Read more
Published 28 days ago by Janet Sherwood
4.0 out of 5 stars Piptastic
I have always loved Great Expectations and read this straight after. I enjoyed the constant referrals to Dickens book but thought it would lack it's own story, however, I was not... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marko Polo
5.0 out of 5 stars good
Great book, I am a massive bookworm so I love all books but I would definitely recommend this book to my friends and family.
Published 1 month ago by becccci
5.0 out of 5 stars Good book
Excellent read,very engaging.The story is full of surprises and character twists, action packed and very interesting.i highly recommend it. B
Published 1 month ago by ioana lucaciu
3.0 out of 5 stars Mister Pip
Easy book to read - enjoyed it very much.
Good description and gave situations which made you wonder how you would react if it had been you!
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. J. L. Butler
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly harrowing
I picked this book up purely based on the name. Great Expectations is my favourite Dickens novel, and the blurb explained how it was the only book in the classroom in a village in... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rachel Slade
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
Very moving novel that captured my attention and left an imprint on my heart. I would recommend this for those interested in race and identity.
Published 2 months ago by humaira Khan
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
An amazing incite into a cruel world that brings hope into all our lives! Definitely a must read, simply amazing!
Published 3 months ago by Toby
3.0 out of 5 stars Liked but didn't love
Set in 1970s Bougainville, this book is set in a small and remote village where life continues it has for centuries. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Julia Flyte
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