Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

Published: 2007
Pages: 256
Genre: Fiction
Matilda is a young girl living on a copper-rich island with her family and other villagers. When their home is torn apart by war, Matilda's father flees the island, along with the school teachers and other people. There's only one white man left, a man named Mr. Watts. He decides to teach the children all that he knows, and immerses them in the world of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations.

This is the ultimate book lover's novel, for a couple of reasons: it's all about the classic Great Expectations (which I sadly have not read yet), it explores the power of reading, and it's a super poignant, unique book. How could I resist not buying it on a whim? As you can see, I couldn't. I didn't. And I'm so happy for that.

For such a short book, Jones was able to pack so much goodness into it. The language he uses is so simple it's on the brink of being childlike. But there's no need for complexity in a book like this. It's written in a very honest, truthful tone that perfectly reflects the feelings, desires, wants, needs, and thoughts of Matilda. Once she discovers her love for Great Expectations, she clings on to it as a means of escape from the violence and heartbreak of her everyday life. It gives her permission to dream, permission to hate, and permission to want to get away. I loved the way Jones showed this to us as readers.

I know that one big factor in this book was supposed to be the teacher, Mr. Watts. I think I was supposed to be entranced by him, and find his morals and views of the world very interesting. I didn't, really. To me, the magic of this book wasn't in him at all - it was in what he showed to the children. He showed them that it's important to have an imagination, to appreciate what books have to tell us, and to realise that you can learn a lot from the characters and relate to them as real people. I could be totally off in this respect, but that's what I felt. And, after all, that's what Mister Pip is urging you to do - take away what you want, what you need, from books.

As you can probably assume, there isn't one fixed, set in stone message to take away from Mister Pip. You shouldn't simply read the book with the sole aspiration of being taught a lesson. Yes, you can follow Matilda with her journey of being enlightened and having the courage to face the world she lives in. Or, you can let the book work its magic on you. All I know for sure, though, is that Mister Pip will probably leave an impression on you. It's hard to tell what that impression is, but it's there.

Recommendation: If you love and appreciate books (and I'm guessing you do), read Mister Pip. It's such a great experience that will touch you as a reader! If you've read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, that will be an added bonus.


Whitney said...

Nice review. I haven't read Great Expectations either, just a little too intimidated. Did Mister Pip make you want to read Dickens?

Elle said...

I love books where the characters themselves explore books. We're book lovers, so of course we'd love to read about other booklovers. I'm also interested in the question Whitney asked - did Mister Pip make you want to read Great Expectations? :)

Darlyn said...

Thanks for sharing and for the recommendations. The book looks really promising. But I have not read anything from Charles Dickens! =)

Juju at Tales of said...

How interesting! Great review :)

Aths said...

This is one of the books on my must-read list, but yours is the first review I have read of this book. It sounds so amazing, I can't wait to read it!

Emidy said...

Whitney - Thank you. You know, I was a little intimidated, too! But yes, after reading this book I'm interested in picking up Great Expectations.

Elle - I love books like that too! And yes, now I'd love to read Great Expectations.

Darlyn - Neither have I! I want to now, though.

Juju - Thanks so much! It was a great one.

Aths - Yay, glad you want to read it! Hope you get the chance soon.

Alison said...

Cool! I've never read Great Expectations. I should get to it someday.
Alison Can Read

Nymeth said...

I definitely need to get my hands on this! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much :) And the fact that it'll encourage me to read GE is an added bonus ;)

Bookscount Blogs said...

Great Review. I also read this book recently and reviewed it. I did have the benefit of having read Great Expectations before though. Please check out my review on

Bookscount Blogs said...

Great Review. I also read this book recently and reviewed it. I did have the benefit of having read Great Expectations before though. Please check out my review on

Emidy said...

Alison - Neither have I! I want to read it soon.

Nymeth - Oh, glad you want to read it! And yes, it does make you want to read GE.

Bookscount Blog - Ah, interesting! I'll check out your review.