Mister Pip

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Mister Pip

by Lloyd Jones

Knopf Canada | May 20, 2008 | Trade Paperback

4.0714 out of 5 rating. 14 Reviews
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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, 3.15 × 2.14 × 0.28 in

Published: May 20, 2008

Publisher: Knopf Canada

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0676979289

ISBN - 13: 9780676979282

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– More About This Product –

Mister Pip

by Lloyd Jones

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 272 pages, 3.15 × 2.14 × 0.28 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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