Mister Pip – Lloyd Jones



In the world of Mister Pip, reading Dickens represents salvation for a community ravaged by conflict.

“Lloyd Jones’s novel is set in a village on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville during the 1990s civil war. Jones covered it as a journalist, and in his novel he never shies away from the realities of daily life shadowed by violence. Matilda, the 13-year-old narrator, details how the helicopters circle, the generators are empty and all the teachers have fled.

“One white man remains. Mr Watts believes in the power of literature to set minds free. He reads the children Great Expectations and in it they find something just as vital as medicine and kerosene: ‘a bigger piece of the world’. Like many readers before her, Matilda falls in love with the fictional Pip, but ‘Pip’ is mistakenly assumed by soldiers to be a rebel fighter and then the boundary between fiction and reality dissolves.

I had found a new friend. The surprising thing is where I’d found him – not up a tree or sulking in the shade, or splashing around in one of the hill streams, but in a book. No one had told us kids to look there for a friend. Or that you could slip inside the skin of another. Or travel to another place with marshes, and where, to our ears, the bad people spoke like pirates.

“A clever, enthralling, devastating book.” – Suzy

“I enjoy books set in real life conflicts, to be educated/shocked and entertained all at once. Here Jones takes a little known conflict and into it inserts fabulous characters. The protagonist, Matilda, and the re-invented Pip are both fully developed characters who bring innocence and a harsh reality to the real-life conflict. I enjoyed not only the harsh differences but also the parallels between story telling and war. A touching and haunting book with snippets I had to read from behind my hands. An important book; one not to be forgotten.” – Rachel

Published 2006
John Murray
256 pages

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