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Mister Pip

3.66  ·  Rating Details ·  14,397 Ratings  ·  1,824 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,
Paperback, 256 pages
Published May 20th 2008 by Dial Press Trade Paperback (first published September 25th 2006)
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Eleanor The "redskins" are the Papua New Guinea army and yes, this did happen when Bougainville tried to become independent of Papua New Guinea. See the…moreThe "redskins" are the Papua New Guinea army and yes, this did happen when Bougainville tried to become independent of Papua New Guinea. See the history here:

Community Reviews

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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
Sep 29, 2009 Tarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 02, 2010 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 19, 2007 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Stevie Sieren
May 04, 2016 Stevie Sieren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mister Pip written by Lloyd Jones focuses on the power of imagination and the ability of literature to act as an escape from reality. Mr. Watt is one of the few remaining white men after the war begins on the island of Bougainville. He becomes a teacher for the native children of the island and uses Charles Dicken's Great Expectations to teach the children about the importance of imagination. Pip is significant to Jones's novel because he is the main character of Great Expectations that Mr. Watt ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Nov 08, 2008 Shannon (Giraffe Days) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2011
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.

Mar 26, 2009 Daniel rated it it was ok
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
Jul 19, 2011 Merilee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 29, 2009 Greg rated it it was ok

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.
May 26, 2016 Petra rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I didn't expect this when I started reading. What a well told story.
There are opposites throughout: idyllic island surrounding/Victorian London; peaceful island/rebels & militia; Great Expectations/no expectations. The juxtapositions are harsh and affective.
Mr. Watts, the only white man on the island, takes it upon himself to teach the children during times of war after the school has been closed. He uses Great Expectations as a textbook, teaching the children of a world beyond their o
Emmie Dark
May 09, 2011 Emmie Dark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
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
Jun 08, 2010 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Andy by: The cover
Shelves: prize-winners, 2010
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
May 07, 2009 Jana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jan 24, 2017 Eleanor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful, horrific, heartbreaking. And shameful that once again, the world looked away while atrocities were committed.
Del Zimmerman
Jul 29, 2011 Del Zimmerman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sonja - Badass Wanderer
'Mister Pip' is an amazing book filled with all sides of Life: the good, the bad, and the ugly. There is family, friendship, trust, acts of kindness and wisdom. There is an island, that is home, surrounded by nature and the sea. However, there are also some cringe-worthy, horror-inducing war atrocities. The novel doesn't beautify anything: it shows the inhumanity that war is and made me wonder whether war makes monsters or monsters make war.

The novel is written extremely well. Lloyd Jones is a
Nov 14, 2008 Christen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.

“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
Dec 05, 2010 Trevor rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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
Deborah Pickstone
I am always a bit dubious about a book that has won the Man Booker Prize, purely because I almost always don't like them. This was no exception: I found it patronising and uncomfortable reading because of it. The language in places was quite beautiful but the story premises were way dodgy as it seemed to say a white man was needed to.....pretty much teach the locals how to present their own stories/culture to each other. A society in chaos and one from outside who didn't leave.

His need to be nee
Apr 27, 2015 Rachel rated it really liked it
Was unprepared for the violent section--but an island at war is bound to suffer. As a teacher I like to read about methods other teachers use to engage students in lessons and especially literature, so I liked the integration of the Dickens tale. Good story, but it wrenched my heart.
Feb 13, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book, quite surprising in content as I was expecting a "white-man-in-the-jungle" tale, but this was told from the perspective of a girl living on war-torn Bougainville.
Now, of course, I must read Dickens "Great Expectations".
Jason Pettus
(The entire full-length review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

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
May 25, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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'
Sep 23, 2007 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2008 Teresa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 26, 2008 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 29, 2012 Ciera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

It was very enlightening, not only about life, but about Great Expectations, a book that I just finished and cared little about. I was surprised at how much I took from Mister Pip. I actually came to love it and, with it, Great Expectations.
Bindu Manoj
Sep 26, 2015 Bindu Manoj rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stories through the eyes of children are bittersweet. There is always a silver lining that peeps through the deep, dark clouds. Lloyd Jones’s ‘Mister Pip’ is one such. The protagonist is named Matilda, no other name would have suited her better. War has closed off this tiny island from the rest of the world, last of the teachers have left. That is when Mr. Watts, the lone white man in the island, appoints himself as their teacher, the only textbook they have is Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations.’ And ...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...

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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. ” 94 likes
“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.” 35 likes
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