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Mister Pip Paperback – 10 Jan 2008

4.0 out of 5 stars 187 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: John Murray (10 Jan. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 071956994X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0719569944
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (187 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 78,583 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Set on a war torn, blockaded South Pacific island in the early 1990s, this stunning tale is narrated by Matilda, aged almost 14, when the "redskins" invade. Forgotten and unaided by the white world, the children are taught by Mr Watts, the only remaining white person.

Through his passion for Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations", this eccentric man gradually helps the children to "flee to Victorian England to save their sanity" in an increasingly violent environment. The impressionable Matilda becomes enthralled by and infatuated with Pip, who becomes more real than her own relatives.

The power of memory and storytelling is central to the book. It also explores the theme of the ultimate futility of guilt and blame and what it really means to bear witness. When "Great Expectations" disappears, encouraged by their teacher, the children gradually begin to rebuild the story as well as their lives.

For two thirds of the book, it feels like discovering a contemporary children's classic. Then in one turn of a page all this changes. At one point, Mr Watts says, his beloved book gave him the "power to change his life". Arguably this compelling read will do the same for new generations.

This is a tale of remarkable resilience and survival (for some at least). It will give you an insight more powerful than any harrowing television news clip to which so many in the Western world have become so inured, into the ravages which hostilities can wreak on both the victims and perpetrators. So turn off the TV set and read this book; better still have someone read it to you.

(Warning this book is not for the faint hearted or those too young to be exposed to the atrocities of which their fellow humans are capable.)
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Format: Paperback
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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