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.