Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Mister Pip" by Lloyd Jones

Accidentally put my kindle into my checked in luggage this weekend when flying back from Sydney, so I splurged and bought a new book from an airport book store. I chose "Mister Pip" by Lloyd Jones, a New Zealand author. I didn't know a lot about the book before I read it, but I vaguely remembered seeing a movie trailer for a film version of it that I thought looked good.

Mister Pip has an obvious connection with Charles Dickens "Great expectations", being the main character in that book. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I have never read "Great expectations", sometimes the classic books are a bit of a mission to read for me, but I am probably more likely to consider reading it now that I have read "Mister Pip". "Mister Pip" is not set in 1800s England, but rather in Bougainville, a tropical island during a (recent) time of horrific civil war. The book could be described as a fable, and it is told from a child/teenagers point of view - Matilda, who grew up in this island community. The children on the island attend a school, which is taught by the token White man on the island, Mr Watts, who appears to be a bit of a recluse and not really a teacher, but during times of civil unrest he is the best version of a teacher the community has. He starts reading "Great expectations" to the kids, and captures their imagination and helps give them some hope and focus in the midst of a time of insecurity, unrest and hardship. Then the soldiers and rebels enter the village, and things get even worse. I'm not sure if it's just me, or whether the story being told as a fable and expressed in the innocent words of a young girl made the impact more shocking and horrific, but some of the violent scenes that unfolded in the last 50 pages of the book absolutely shattered me. Without giving things away, it was unexpectedly tragic and horrific, even more so when described from the point of view of an innocent 15 year old girl.

It is clearly a very well written story, mostly uplifting, but with some severely horrific scenes scattered throughout. I felt pretty flat after the ending really. I think I will be remembering this book for a long time though.

Started reading: 1st June 2014
Finished: 5th June 2014
My score: 8.5/10

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