Mister Pip

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Mister Pip

by Lloyd Jones

Knopf Canada | May 20, 2008 | Trade Paperback

Mister Pip is rated 4.0714 out of 5 by 14.

The Booker finalist and beloved novel that has taken the world by storm is now a major motion picture starring Hugh Laurie.

Thirteen-year-old Matilda lives on a copper-rich tropical island that has been shattered by war, from which the teachers have fled along with everyone else. Only one white man chooses to stay behind, the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn. He sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and steps in to teach the children when there is no one else, and his only lessons consist of reading from his battered copy of Great Expectations, a book by his friend Mr. Dickens. First the children, and the entire village, are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip, their imaginations aflame with dreams of Dickens''s London and the larger world. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination-- it turns out-- is a dangerous thing.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8 × 5.5 × 0.69 in

Published: May 20, 2008

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676979289

ISBN - 13: 9780676979282

Found in: Fiction and Literature

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful! On the island of Bougainville, a group of village children are taught by the only white man, using the only book left in the school -- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It really does help to have read Great Expectations to appreciate this story, but it isn't necessary. If you read it years ago, you'll keep up just fine. One of Lloyd's aims is to make the point that we all make each and every story our own. He does this by demonstrating how a group of black children from an isolated Australasian island caught in a civil war take Mister Pip and his story, and make it their own. I'm simplifying the plot of course, as there is family conflict and conflict born of war, and deep character introspection on many levels. When the story ended, I leaned back and sighed with satisfaction. I'm still pondering it's messages more than 2 days later. They will stay with me always. What more can one ask of a book?
Date published: 2011-02-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Innocent A pure story; almost a kids story but for a few gory details. A very simple story that uses Dickens’s Great Expectations as a blueprint. Good and evil, god and the devil – all questions a native girl might ask growing up when trying to understand the world. But most importantly it speaks to the power of the imagination and where it can take us; certainly beyond our minds and into a reality we never believed possible. To think it is to believe it. I enjoyed it but i can see that it wouldn't be to many people's taste.
Date published: 2010-01-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Reader's read! This is a unique story, set in a beautiful, tropical island in 1990's. Political strife has caused all the white people to leave, except one. The eccentric Mr Watts takes on the task of becoming the school teacher for the native children. He reads "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens to the class. The story is heard, and told, through the ears and eyes of 14 year old Matilda. She is a character you will not soon forget. There are laugh-out-loud moments, and runny-nose-crying scenes in this novel. You don't have to have read "Great Expectations" to enjoy this novel, but it does enhance the story if you have. Truly a Reader's read!
Date published: 2009-09-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Reader's read! This is a unique story, set in a beautiful, tropical island in 1990's. Political strife has caused all the white people to leave, except one. The eccentric Mr Watts takes on the task of becoming the school teacher for the native children. He reads "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens to the class. The story is heard, and told, through the ears and eyes of 14 year old Matilda. She is a character you will not soon forget. There are laugh-out-loud moments, and runny-nose-crying scenes in this novel. You don't have to have read "Great Expectations" to enjoy this novel, but it does enhance the story if you have. Truly a Reader's read!
Date published: 2009-09-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Deep and thought provoking This was a great book overall. Their is not a lot of action to it, but where it's lacking in action and excitement, it makes up for with depth and meaning. This book left me with a lot of questions, but I'm sure that was the effect. We could have a hundred discussions about completely different events in this book. If you're looking for a book to do a project/report/essay on, this is a perfect choice. it will provide you with ample material and topics.
Date published: 2009-09-21
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Simple and Powerful As others have mentioned, at first glance the story of Mister Pip is a simple tale about a little girl's life on a remote island and dealing with civil war. However, it is much more complex and meaningful than that. The writer, Lloyd Jones, does a fantastic job in hiding its complexity. Moreover, he does an equally fantastic job in not "over-writing" the dramatic aspects of the story, which adds more power and emotions to those aspects of the book. What is great about Mister Pip, is that each reader will take something different from it - the ballte betwen friends and family; loyalty; the need fo inner escape - the story deals with all of these themes. I found the book reminds the reader of the power of stories and literature in shaping our world and lives. A quick, easy and great story.
Date published: 2009-05-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Life of Pip (and Matilda) "Mister Pip" tells of the story of Matilda, a young girl growing up on an island in the Pacific, whose life almost mirrors that of Pip, the lead character of Charles Dicken's "Great Expectations". The Dickensian story is narrated by quite the unexpected teacher figure to Matilda and her class, and provided her a form of escapist pleasure - from her life and the approaching storm. It has a very "Life of Pi"-esque style and story, but while it took me a while before I came to truly appreciate "Pi", I took an immediate liking to "Pip". It was relatable, and covered a wide range of themes from culture, race, upbringing, faith, and the internal battles survivors, or otherwise, face. The story never falls through, never lets up much, so when the writings are read, Jones leaves one smiling, quivering or gaping.
Date published: 2009-03-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from CAPTIVATING + AMUSING A off-beat look at the quirks of a white teacher's destiny to educate a tiny island's black children. Amusing to read. The two main characters will capitvate you to read more.
Date published: 2009-03-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from highly recommended Lloyd Jones’ Mister Pip won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book in 2007. Books with pedigree always make me nervous. What if I don’t like it? What does that say about me as a reader? No chance of not liking Mister Pip, though. This is a terrific book. Thirteen-year-old Matilda lives on the tropical island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea. Many of the island’s inhabitants have fled, including Matilda’s father, because of a brutal civil war. Redskins and rambos are fighting, and the island is all but cut off from civilization. The only white inhabitant left in the village is a man called Mr. Watts, also known as Pop Eye. It is decided that he will teach the children, as the school teachers have all fled. As they clean up the building they will use as a school room, Mr. Watts tells the children “I want this to be a place of light, no matter what happens.” Mr. Watts begins to read the children Great Expectations which he claims is “the greatest novel by the greatest English writer of the nineteenth century.” And as Pip’s story unfolds, so does Jones’ novel. Not everyone agrees with Mr. Watts’ estimation of Dickens’ worth. Matilda’s mother, Dolores, in particular thinks Mr. Watts should be teaching the children about God and the devil. She and Mr. Watts are adversaries, but there can be no mistaking the impact Watts is having on Matilda. Mister Pip is a fantastic book about the power of reading and imagination. It is also a powerful and startling novel about bravery and sacrifice, love and forgiveness. I can not recommend it highly enough.
Date published: 2009-03-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mister Pip I read "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens during my first year of University and I did not like it at all, but I must say I always remembered Miss Havisham and the creepy scene of her in her wedding gown and the cob webs have stuck in my mind for many years. Obviously the book did have some effect on me and whenever I find someone reading "Great Expectations", which is not very often, I inquire how Pip is doing. "Mister Pip" by Lloyd Jones is patterned after the plot of "Great Expectations" and obviously the title is from the main character Pip in "Great Expectations". Matilda lives on the copper rich Bougainville Island and the civil war of the 1990's is the backdrop of this novel. Matilda is thirteen years old and lives with her mother, her father is living is Australia like a "white man" and Matilda and her mother are waiting endlessly to join him. Matilda's village is deserted by the all the white people including all the teachers, only one white man remains, the eccentric Mr Watts. Mr Watts takes up the task of educating the village children and he accomplishes this in two ways, one by getting parents to come and teach the children anything they think is important and the other by reading to the children "Great Expectations". The children are enraptured by the story of Pip and it changes who they are. Matilda's mother does not like this fictional character Pip and her hatred of the novel leads to severe consequences for her whole village and for herself and her daughter. The Redskins come to the village and destroy all of the material items the people possess and they demand to see Mr Pip, his name was written in the sand. Mr Watts tells them Pip is a fictional character from a book, but when he is unable to produce the book, the Redskins destroy the village. I found the ending of the book to be spell bounding, the return of the Redskins to find Mr Pip and the consequences of them feeling mislead are devastating. Matilda faces horrifying life changing events which lead to her finding a new life, very much like Pip from "Great Expectations".
Date published: 2008-12-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking This is a breathtaking book - breathtakingly candid and sincere. On an isolated tropical island, through the eyes of a thirteen year-old girl Matilda, we witnessed the surprising attempts of an unexpected teacher, Mr. Watts, in rescuing trapped and terrified islanders with his reading and re-imagination of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectation". through it, we would have no choice but the rethink the meaning of right or wrong, and what it means to be human, and more so, a moral person. I was enchanted by this beautiful story; its writing is so humble and smooth that you would want to read it over and over again. Love this book - a must read.
Date published: 2008-10-19
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not a Pip, in my book Okay, I decided to spend the summer reading more contemporary books as I had been reading nothing but literature from school and while I loved it, I felt I was missing out on new writers who may bring some unique perspective to the art of fiction. I'm sorry to say I haven't found any great novels, yet. That's not to say, there isn’t any good reading out there; some of it is absorbing, engaging and even uplifting. I happen to like good stories; I just happen to prefer more traditional lit, better. I know not everybody likes to work at reading, but for some reason I do; don't ask me why. I am not that way with movies; while I like British, foreign and documentary films, I also like fantasy, comedy and kid's movies; "Groundhog Day" is one of my favourite films. I like being entertained just like anyone else, but it's different when it comes to books; I don't know why. Anyway, after all this defensive explanation, I'll now clarify why I found the book somewhat disappointing. The plot centres on a very interesting concept: an island in the South Pacific is cut off from the outside world and all its material goods and services when they are invaded by a militaristic government from another country. Most everybody flees, except for a few inhabitants who didn't get out in time and now are reduced to basic survival when the only 'white' man on the island attempts to teach the children by reading to them from his beloved copy of "Great Expectations." The fact that the teacher is white plays a rather small part in the story; it crops up only a few times. It didn't even seem to matter if he was the only white man on the island, so I don't know why the reviews felt it necessary to emphasize it. The narrator, a 12 year old girl named Matilda makes note that she feels very connected to Pip in the novel, despite their differences in race, gender, time and place but I don't feel that aspect is delved into enough; only at the end. The story is told from Matilda's perspective, left on the island with her mother. I got pulled in and out of the story; sometimes it was very intriguing, other times the author didn't always pull off the 12 year old girl narrator; it was a little self-conscious and it didn't entirely ring true for me in some places. It dragged in some places and I couldn't always link the plot of the book to the reason why the author chose to use Dickens' "Great Expectations" until the end, when things are clarified. Everything gets tied up and illuminated at the end of the book and the last few pages are powerful and intense, but I wish that intensity had been more apparent in the first half and had grown with the story. I love "Great Expectations" and I kept hoping it would enter the story more in terms of theme, rather than just mere physical presence throughout the book. For me, the themes in Dickens’ novel are about the appearances we accept and the façades we adopt rather than having to face painful realities in life, in addition to being about the journey to self-awareness. There is also a strong thread of morality and injustice throughout the novel; one of Dickens' hallmarks. In "Mister Pip," Matilda, like Pip in "Great Expectations", does start off with some pretty unpleasant realities in her life , but unlike Pip, whose journey to understanding takes up the bulk of the novel, she was already a fairly self-aware individual, so I didn't feel the author clarified well enough for me, why Matilda would feel so connected to Pip . In "Mister Pip," there is no justice or fairness, so in that respect, maybe "Great Expectations" would appeal to Matilda because it had such a strong moral centre, but again, the author never makes that connection strong enough for me. My main concern, however, is that much of the rationale gets cleared up toward the end of the story- it seems that the author wanted to surprise readers with a revealing ending- and that leaves the first part of the book merely exposition. I think this book had the potential to have had many more layers throughout the book, than it did. Although, I've heard it personally reviewed by someone as "profoundly moving," so I have a feeling I may be in the minority. I do wish the book had delved more deeply into the connection between the young girl's story and her connection to "Great Expectations" and done a little better at representing the young narrator more fully. The story is very strong and often touching, especially toward the end, which is explosive, but I wish it could have been just as moving throughout. The end is a big payoff, though and so I don't want to criticize the book too much because I do think it is worth reading, but as much for the style and structure of the novel rather than for the actual story; it's good enough to warrant lots of discussion, both about the story and the writing style.
Date published: 2008-09-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read I just finished this book and I know I will read it again! Short read, but it encompasses many different feeings and thoughts.
Date published: 2008-02-04
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Booker Favorite? I honestly thought this book was going to win the Booker. That doesn't mean i would have chosen it as the winner, only that i thought i t would be a popular favorite. Set on an island in the South Pacific, Mister Pip is the persona the teacher and only white man on the island assumes. Pip is, of course, a reference to the character from Great Expectations, which Mister Pip reads aloud to his pupils. I, unfortunately, have not read Great Expectations for a good number of years, so i fear that some of the parallelisms may have been lost on me. But it was still an enjoyable read and a knowledge of mr. Dickens is by no means necessary to enjoy the book.
Date published: 2007-10-22

– More About This Product –

Mister Pip

by Lloyd Jones

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 8 × 5.5 × 0.69 in

Published: May 20, 2008

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676979289

ISBN - 13: 9780676979282

Read from the Book

Chapter One EVERYONE CALLED HIM POP EYE. EVEN IN those days, when I was a skinny thirteen-year-old, I thought he probably knew about his nickname but didn''t care. His eyes were too interested in what lay up ahead to notice us barefoot kids. He looked like someone who had seen or known great suffering and hadn''t been able to forget it. His large eyes in his large head stuck out further than anyone else''s--like they wanted to leave the surface of his face. They made you think of someone who can''t get out of the house quickly enough. Pop Eye wore the same white linen suit every day. His trousers snagged on his bony knees in the sloppy heat. Some days he wore a clown''s nose. His nose was already big. He didn''t need that red lightbulb. But for reasons we couldn''t think of he wore the red nose on certain days--which may have meant something to him. We never saw him smile. And on those days he wore the clown''s nose you found yourself looking away because you never saw such sadness. He pulled a piece of rope attached to a trolley on which Mrs. Pop Eye stood. She looked like an ice queen. Nearly every woman on our island had crinkled hair, but Grace had straightened hers. She wore it piled up, and in the absence of a crown her hair did the trick. She looked so proud, as if she had no idea of her own bare feet. You saw her huge bum and worried about the toilet seat. You thought of her mother and birth and that stuff. At two-thirty in the afternoon the parrots sat in the shade o
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From the Publisher

The Booker finalist and beloved novel that has taken the world by storm is now a major motion picture starring Hugh Laurie.

Thirteen-year-old Matilda lives on a copper-rich tropical island that has been shattered by war, from which the teachers have fled along with everyone else. Only one white man chooses to stay behind, the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn. He sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and steps in to teach the children when there is no one else, and his only lessons consist of reading from his battered copy of Great Expectations, a book by his friend Mr. Dickens. First the children, and the entire village, are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip, their imaginations aflame with dreams of Dickens''s London and the larger world. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination-- it turns out-- is a dangerous thing.

About the Author

Lloyd Jones was born in New Zealand in 1955. His previous novels and collections of stories include the award-winning The Book of Fame, Biografi, a New York Times Notable Book, Choo Woo, Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance and Paint Your Wife. Lloyd Jones lives in Wellington.


From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“[ Mister Pip ] has all the spell-binding charm of Yann Martel’s Life of Pi and then some. . . . Mister Pip is an achingly beautiful story.” — The Vancouver Sun “An intelligent novel that says as much about the power of reading as it does about bloodshed and loss.” — New Statesman “By the time Mr. Watts reached the end of chapter one I felt like I had been spoken to by this boy Pip. . . . 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.” — The Spectator “A novel about reading and writing and their impact on people’s lives that can be read with pleasure by someone who has never known the power of Charles Dickens, or Great Expectations , and still make them hunger for more. . . . Its fable-like quality is spellbinding; the depth of its insights compelling.” — Canberra Times “A poignant and impressive work which can take its place alongside the classical novels of adolescence.” — The Times Literary Supplement " Mister Pip is a rare, original and truly beautiful novel. It reminds us that every act of reading and telling is a transformation, and that stories, even painful ones, may carry possibilities of redemption. An unforgettable novel, mo
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Bookclub Guide

1. Is it important that Mr. Watts is the last white man on the island? Why?

2. Why does Matilda write Pip’s name in the sand alongside the names of her relatives? Why does this upset her mother? How does this contribute to Dolores’s feelings about Mr. Watts’s instruction of her daughter? Are these feelings understandable?

3. Why do you think Mr. Watts pulled his wife in the cart? Why did he wear the red clown nose? What meaning did that have for them?

4. What is the message Matilda’s mother is trying to express to the children with the story of her mother’s braids? How is this related to the issue of Mr. Watts’s faith in God?

5. What did you think of the lessons that the mothers of the children bring to the classroom? If you were the parent of a child in Matilda’s class, what lesson would you teach the children? What might your mother have taught the class?

6. Who is Dolores warning the children about when she tells them the story about the devil lady and the church money? How does this story justify her actions regarding the book and the redskins? Do you agree with Dolores’s refusal to bring forth the book? With Matilda’s?

7. Where do you think Gilbert’s father takes Sam? How do you know? In your opinion, was it necessary that he do so?

8. Why does the corned beef in Mr. Watts’s house "represent a broad hope" for Matilda? Discuss Mr. Watts’s reaction to Matilda’s fragment. Do you believe that Grace was alive when Matilda arrived?

9. Discuss how the characters in this story struggle to reconcile the concepts of race and identity. Does it seem to dictate their interaction with each other? How does it influence their concepts of self? What moments, especially, helped reveal this to you?

10. What is the meaning of the story of the Queen of Sheba? Why does Mr. Watts bring it up? Why is it significant that Dolores is familiar with that story?

11. Why does Dolores step forward to declare herself "God’s witness" to the murder of Mr. Watts? Were you surprised that she did? Why does she insist that Matilda remain silent?

12. Do you think Matilda was able to return home? How would that outcome affect your reading of both novels?

13. Discuss your memorable experiences of being read to as a child. What book made the greatest impact on your life? Did any book come to you at precisely the right time, the way Great Expectations was brought to Matilda?

14. On Great Expectations and Mister Pip. Are both Mister Pip and Great Expectations universal coming-of-age tales? How did you react to the blending of these two distinctly different settings and time periods?

15. The initial lines of Great Expectations are reflected several times in this novel. Compare them to the opening lines of Mister Pip. What connections do these first sentences draw between the themes of both novels?

16. In what way are the narrative voices of Mister Pip and Great Expectations the same? How are they different? What shifts do you notice in the storytelling after Matilda leaves the island? How did this impact your reading?

17. How is Dolores’s treatment of Matilda similar to Estella’s treatment of Pip in Great Expectations? How does this relationship help Matilda understand Pip’s attachment to Estella? Is it necessary that this attachment be severed before Pip/Matilda can grow individually?

18. Why do you think Mr. Watts omitted the characters of Orlick and Compeyson from his telling of Great Expectations? What additional meaning might the children have gleaned from the story if these characters and their storylines, such as Compeyson’s jilting of Miss Havisham, had been included?

19. What is signified by the changing of one’s name, both in Great Expectations and Mister Pip? Why does Matilda not change her name?

20. In what ways does Great Expectations help Matilda cope with her reality and prepare her for the future? How does it help Mr. Watts deal with his past? What makes Great Expectations the ideal Dickens choice for this purpose?

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