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Mister Pip

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  10,859 ratings  ·  1,514 reviews
In a novel that is at once intense, beautiful, and fablelike, Lloyd Jones weaves a transcendent story that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the power of narrative to transform our lives.

On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with most everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts,
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Paperback, 220 pages
Published January 2006 by Penguin Group (New Zealand)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Conrad
This is when two and a half stars would be handy. I really couldn't stand this book for a couple of reasons when I first started reading it. It has a narrative voice that sounds like an oldish adult trying to sound like a five year old. Jones writes in staccato sentences that are occasionally poetic but more often tend toward a voice I will refer to as Tragic Deadpan, a voice that was also used to disastrous effect in Octavia Butler's writing. It is uniquely unenlightening on the plight of the P ...more
Tarah
I *hated* this book. Let me tell you why: this novel read like this: look at this poor, uneducated island, and these poor, noble-savage ignorant and simple black people who are caught in the middle of a violent conflict between the savage black rebels who will eventually sell you out and the even more savage redskins (no joke, "redskins") who terrorize you, rape you, and machete you into pieces they will then feed to a pig. The violence, indeed, the whole setting, seemed wildly superfluous. The ...more
Daniel
Mar 30, 2009 Daniel rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Daniel by: Carole (via Rose)
My friend Rose, who also is reading "Mister Pip," early on described the book as schmaltzy, and I am inclined to agree. Treacly might be another good word. And the book often comes across as condescending toward anyone who isn't white, though I'm sure Lloyd Jones didn't mean for it to be.

If "Mister Pip" is ever turned into a movie, it's a given that the role of Mr. Watts will go to Robin Williams, in his inspiring-teacher mode but wearing that fucking clown nose from "Patch Adams." Without givin
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Julie
This is a fascinating book ostensibly about an isolated island in the south Pacific and its inhabitants caught in a war over a copper mine. The lone white man on the island decides to help the children through the tension by reading from Great Expectations, and various repercussions follow. But, the story is so much more. In fact, I think I'll need to read it again to really understand it. Right now, I'd say it's about the power of stories and how they shape our lives; how they provide context a ...more
·Karen·
Re-reading a firm favourite can be salutary, a cure for that breathless over-enthusiasm that marked the initial reaction. I'm not sure if anything can recapture the emotional punch in the solar plexus this book gave me the first time round. Appalled outrage at the fact that the civil war in the 1990s on the island of Bougainville which blasts devastation through the narrator's life was barely reported in any Western media; shocked horror at the atrocities (all based on fact); painful, gut-wrench ...more
Greg

Unconvincing narrator, condescending, patronizing, less than successful end. Other than that it's an OK story. Note to middle aged white guys - think twice before writing as 13 year old black island girl.
Merilee
What a nearly perfect book, especially right after reading the original Pip (Great Expectations). A white NZ man introduces the black children of the tiny island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea to Great Expectations against a background of civil war with the "redskins" from the larger island. I don't want to give any of the plot away and I recommend that you do not read the jacket cover. This is an intensely moving, lyrical book.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
I've had this book on my shelf for a few years now, and when New Zealand came up as the first country in the Travelling the World challenge, it seemed like fate that I'd waited this long to read it. Well, the author's a Kiwi but the book is actually set on the small tropical island of Bougainville, near Papua New Guinea, in the 1990s. It's the kind of tropical island where communities live in small villages by the beach, amidst the jungle, living off fish and coconuts, chicken and pigs.

Matilda
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Andy
Aug 17, 2010 Andy rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andy by: The cover
Shelves: 2010, prize-winners
Picked up due to the bright colours on the cover. Mister Pip is a rich and engrossing story told from the point of view of Matilda during civil war on a small pacific island. Without a normal routine or life the only white man on the island teaches the children from Great Expectations.

It's subtle and rich, particularly when detailing the feelings that reading can evoke, providing an alternate reality and support system. The characters are developed and complex and the underlying menace and outri
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Emmie Dark
Goodness I loved this book. If I sound surprised -- I am. From the description I wasn't sure if it was going to be my kind of thing and I wasn't even sure I would bother reading it (which is kind of why I took it with me on the plane -- then I have no choice!).

But the story just wove its way into my head and wouldn't let go. It's even in first-person -- and I don't like first person -- but I didn't even really notice.

The story is set in Papua New Guinea -- it doesn't explicitly say that, but t
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Del Zimmerman
There are some books that actually make you feel like you are a better person for having read it. This is one of those books.



Mister Pip is the coming-of-age story of Matilda, a teenager living in New Guinea during the height of civil war in the early 1990s. Her two greatest influences are her mother and a self-appointed teacher Mr. Watts. The foil between the mother and Watts helps Matilda reveal an authentic, independent self after she watches the two struggle over ideas purported through relig
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Jana
I bought this book solely because I liked its cover. And it was shortlisted for Man Booker in 2007. So I thought it was good.

I mean, the only thing that I liked, was this whole general idea. About native people living on this exotic post-colonial island which is struck by civil war between the rebels and redskin army with their helicopters flying above the palm trees, and how white world doesn’t give a shit, and relations among the villagers and their relations with the war situation and everyd
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Christen
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
On an unnamed tropical island, war disrupts the lives of young Matilda and she classmates. When almost all of the whites living on her island, including the school teachers, flee the conflict, only the reclusive Mr. Watts remains. Married to a local girl, Mr. Watts takes over schooling the island's children. However, lacking any curriculum or experience, his teaching revolves around reading aloud from Dickens' Great Expectations. The kids are enthralled, despite having no real understanding of t ...more
Milan/zzz

“You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames.”

This lovely (and so true) quote is from “Mister Pip”, Winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and Shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize written by Mr. Lloyd Jones.

If Pip sounds familiar to you that you’ve probably read “Great Expectation
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Trevor
We had to read part of this for Uni and I thought I would finish it. There was the fact that it won the Man Booker that put me off slightly, but I've plodded on regardless.

This was a disturbing book, much more disturbing than I thought it would have been when I started out or from the fragment I was to read for Uni. It is not the sort of book that one really likes. It is mostly well written and the story mostly moves along at a pace that sustains interest – often better than this – but there ar
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Jason Pettus
(The entire full-length review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].)

So once again it's time for the Booker Prize, which for those who don't know is basically the British version of the Pulitzer, and in fact an award that a lot of people consider a lot more important than the Pulitzer, and a lot more indicative of the best that culture had to offer that particular year. And for those who don't know, only books that have been written and published wi
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Jan
I just finished Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones, which was quite good. It was a finalist for the Man Booker prize. It's about a young native girl on an island near Australia that is engulfed in a rebel war. All the white people have left the island, except for Mr. Watts, who is married to a native woman. Mr. Watts takes over teaching the children of the village and reads them "Great Expectations," enflaming their imaginations. Trouble comes for the whole village when government soldiers show up to in ...more
Andrea
A well-written book, good narrative. I think what I enjoyed the most was how Lloyd Jones consistently gave examples of how the location and moment in time you read a book in really does affect how you absorb it, and how it impacts your life or connects with you. I do love books that seem to offer some commentary on the act of reading itself. That said, I felt like the end was a little bit sensationalistic - which is not to say it lacked emotional heft, because I was certainly gripped, it just le ...more
Teresa
This is a good book on the whole, though not as fully realized as it could've been. I liked a lot of it, esp the theme of what narrative and story can do, both for good and bad; but near the end it dragged and was repetitive, which is really, I thought, unacceptable in such a short book.

It wasn't explained how the narrator knew a certain character that appears near the end even existed. If it was supposed to be a surprise to the reader (it was), it still could've been explained better.

I am a Di
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Jennifer (aka EM)
Oct 12, 2010 Jennifer (aka EM) rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jennifer (aka EM) by: Diane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily
I saw this pass through the library a year ago or so, and I thought it looked interesting. But since Great Expectations figures so heavily into the plot, I didn't want to read it until I had read Great Expectations. So yeah, I read Great Expectations so I could read this book. It was about time I'd read some Dickens anyway, and I'm glad I read it.

Reading this book, I learned about a horrible piece of history I'd never heard anything about, the Bougainville conflict in Papua New Guinea in the 90'
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Robin
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ali
I loved this booker shortlisted novel. I was attracted to it because I absolutely love Great Expectations - I have read it four times, and although not a particular fan of Dickens (though I did read them all) I really love GE. Fans of GE will love the passages in which Mr Watts celebrates and brings to life the world of GE, allowing his pupils a relationship with Pip. The novel takes a brutal turn however, as the reality of war in the 1990's comes to the village. This is a story about the power ...more
Helen
I've passed this book by many, many times as I've run my fingers along spines deciding what to read next. Was it the cover or the title that prevented me from pulling it out before now or was it because I've very little left that's waiting to be read? Very pleased that the book is totally different to the image it projects.

The main characters in this story are Matilda and Mr Watts. The setting is an island in the South Pacific. The time is one of civil unrest. With the depletion of men in the vi
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Angela
Mister Pip reminded me of Life of Pi and of Bel Canto, which is pretty much the nicest thing I can say about any book.

The back of the book tells you as much as you need to know before you begin reading: On a remote island stricken by civil war, the only white man begins teaching children with the only book in the school: Great Expectations.

What follows is a nuanced story full of wonderful little lines I read over and over. Parts of the story broke my heart, a few parts fell flat, but all in al
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Cathy Smith
As someone who has never read any Dickens, I was oblivious to the significance of the title of this book when I picked it up in a bookshop in Kerikeri, NZ. As I began to read, the narrator voice reminded me of Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird- the mixture of a naive young girl's voice and her grown up version looking back. I actually like that intermingling of past and present views on the same events. Reading other people's reviews, many people disliked the narrative voice and found it unbeliev ...more
Rosarina
I decided to read this novel as it was in the list given to my class, of prize winners and it had caught my eye. I had also heard about this novel through my friends and majority of them thought this novel was too long and boring, so I wanted to set out and prove them wrong.
This novel really caught me by surprise, as I found it a really enjoyable read. The start of this novel did not fully entice me to carry on reading it, but I had to. However, I believe that carrying on reading the novel was t
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Rachel
I picked this book up purely based on the name. Great Expectations is my favourite Dickens novel, and the blurb explained how it was the only book in the classroom in a village in a Pacific island, which I thought would be interesting. I had no idea how much this book would grip me.

It follows the story of young teenager Mathilda and her first day at school where her teacher is the only white man in the village, Mr Watts. Mr Watts will read a chapter of GE to the students every day until they ar
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Sarah
If you haven't read Great Expectations, don't bother reading this adult novel or you'll be lost.[return][return]Matilda lives on some island off Australia in the early 1990s. She's black, poor, and doesn't know it. But the only white man in her village (who is married to a kind of crazy black woman) becomes their temporary teacher during a civil war and begins reading the classic Dickens novel to the schoolchildren. They begin learning storytelling skills and all about Dickensian England. The ki ...more
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Lloyd Jones was born in 1955 in Lower Hutt, New Zealand, a place which has become a frequent setting and subject for his subsequent works of fiction. He studied at Victoria University, and has worked as a journalist and consultant as well as a writer. His recent novels are: Biografi (1993); Choo Woo (1998); Here At The End of the World We Learn to Dance (2002); Paint Your Wife (2004);and Mister Pi ...more
More about Lloyd Jones...
Hand Me Down World Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance The Book of Fame A History of Silence: a memoir Biografi: A Traveler's Tale

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“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. Or travel to another place with marshes, and where, to our ears, the bad people spoke like pirates. ” 85 likes
“For six days I didn’t get up except to make a cup of tea, or fry an egg, or lie in the skinny bath gazing at a cracked ceiling. The days punished me with their slowness, piling up the hours on me, spreading their joylessness about the room.

A doctor would have said I was suffering from depression. Everything I have read since suggests this was the case. But when you are in the grip of something like that it doesn’t usefully announce itself. No. what happens is you sit in a dark, dark cave, and you wait. If you are lucky there is a pinprick of light, and if you are especially lucky that pinprick will grow larger and larger, until one day the cave appears to slip behind, and just like that you find yourself in daylight and free. This is how it happened for me.”
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