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Mister Pip

3.65  ·  Rating details ·  22,551 ratings  ·  2,175 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,
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 31st 2007 by The Dial Press (first published September 25th 2006)
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Average rating 3.65  · 
Rating details
 ·  22,551 ratings  ·  2,175 reviews

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Sep 29, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
For the love of everything holy. I'm adding to this review because 1) apparently it pops up as a frequently read review for the novel and 2) apparently people have a LOT of feelings about this review and feel very strongly they should tell me exactly how and why I am wrong about it. And look, I would be 100% for that if it were debate about the text and interpretative merit etc (and there are a few commenters who do get into that, and that's an interesting debate to have because, truly, there is ...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
Mister Pip, Lloyd Jones

Mister Pip (2006) is a novel by Lloyd Jones, a New Zealand author. It is named after the chief character in, and shaped by the plot of Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations.

The novel is the story of a girl caught in the throes of war on the island of Bougainville.

Matilda survives the war through the guidance of her devoted but strict Christian mother and her white teacher Mr Watts, and also, more importantly, through her connection with the fictional Pip, the protagon
Mar 02, 2010 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
Sep 16, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Dec 19, 2007 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
Jul 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Nov 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, fiction
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 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition

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.
Mar 26, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  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
Stevie Sieren
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 own,
Jun 08, 2010 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
Emmie Dark
May 09, 2011 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
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Unforgettable, thoroughly humane, and deeply emotional. Altogether a splendid novel.
Dec 05, 2010 rated it liked it
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
May 07, 2009 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 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.
The Cats’ Mother
Mister Pip is regarded as something of a New Zealand literary classic and regularly appeared on the annual Whitcoulls Top 100 list (which is supposedly voted for by readers) although not for several years now. I was therefore quite surprised to discover that it was only published in 2007 when a copy finally crossed my path on loan from a friend. It was also shortlisted for the Booker prize that year, losing to The Gathering by Anne Enright, a book I have never heard of. It was also on my radar b ...more
Elizabeth (Alaska)
The transformative power of a book is the prime takeaway from this book and I'm happy to provide a quote or two.
During the blockade we could not waste fuel or candles. But as the rebels and redskins went on butchering one another, we had another reason for hiding under the cover of night. Mr. Watts had given us kids another world to spend the night in. We could escape in another place. It didn't matter that it was Victorian England. We found we could easily get there. It was just the blimmin' d
This book won a heap of awards in New Zealand, and was nominated for the Man Booker.
I can see why it was celebrated with awards, and while YA is not really my thing, this book was an enjoyable read.

Set in Bougainville, early the civil war, so somewhere in the 1988-92 range (before military peacekeepers were placed on the island), as told by Matilda, a fourteen year old girl, living with her mother. The local Australian-owned copper mine has been closed, and the expats have all left, except for o
Jan 20, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I always feel a little bad for rating a book 1 star when I didn't actively hate it (and most other times, let's be honest). But as it stands: I did not like this book and I would not have finished it, if it wasn't so short.

I'm of the opinion that anyone is allowed to write about anything, so when I say this book about a young black girl from Bougainville immediately read like it was written from a middle-aged white man, I mean this purely as a literary criticism. So yeah, the white man who beco
Sonja ✧・゚。★・゚☾
'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
Del Zimmerman
Jul 29, 2011 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
Nov 14, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Inevitable comparisons...

When an uprising on the small island of Bougainville, part of Papua New Guinea, leads to the school in Matilda’s village being left with no teacher, the one white man in the village, Mr Watts, takes on the role. Unqualified, he decides to inspire the children’s imaginations by reading them a chapter of Great Expectations each day. He also invites the mothers of the village to come to class and impart nuggets of local wisdom. But the uprising is coming ever nearer and soo
Nina Ive
Jan 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have so much to say about this fantastic book. When I was 6 years old, my mum remarried and we moved from NZ to a tiny island in the Torres Straight, between Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Australia, where my step father was a helicopter pilot. The reason we lived on this Island and not on PNG is because my stepfather said it was too dangerous for my mother and I (white, blonde) and that we wouldn’t last a week there. Lloyd Jones has captured so much about Island life in that region that it just t ...more
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

“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
Jason Pettus
Sep 11, 2007 rated it liked it
(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
Let me do you a favour which no other review I have seen has mentioned. If you have not read Great Expectations, don't read this book yet. Maybe that is everyone assuming everyone has read Dickens, particularly Great Expectations. But as someone who has never read a Dickens novel, and has gotten all her Miss Havisham information off Jasper Fforde, a annoying amount went over my head. I understood the story, and the point. I just feel like if I knew about the references it would have made it a be ...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

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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. ” 100 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.” 42 likes
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