Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

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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, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each day from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.

So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. As Mr. Watts says, “A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe.” Soon come the rest of the villagers, initially threatened, finally inspired to share tales of their own that bring alive the rich mythology of their past. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.

From the Hardcover edition.

About Lloyd Jones

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Lloyd Jones was born in New Zealand in 1955. His previous novels and collections of stories include the award-winning The Book of Fame, Biografi, a New York Times Notable Book, Choo Woo, Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance and Paint Your Wife. Lloyd Jones lives in Wellington. Jones's Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance will be available in the U.S. for the first time on August 26, 2008.From the Hardcover edition.
Published July 31, 2007 by The Dial Press. 274 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History, Children's Books, Education & Reference. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Mister Pip

Kirkus Reviews

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He’s a stopgap professor, really, just volunteering to instruct 20 kids, seven to 15 years old, who gather for shelter from the war between the “redskins” and the “rebels.” A long-bearded Scheherazade in a white linen suit, Watts draws out the telling of Dickens’ classic to the children and soon...

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The Guardian

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Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones John Murray £12.99, pp240 The dark horse on this year's Man Booker Prize shortlist, which was announced last week, is an affecting tale from a New Zealand author about survival and storytelling during a bloody conflict in the South Pacific.

Sep 09 2007 | Read Full Review of Mister Pip

The Guardian

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Mister Pip is the first of Jones's six novels to have travelled from his native New Zealand to the UK.

Jul 06 2007 | Read Full Review of Mister Pip

BC Books

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Mister Pip is a haunting New Zealand book by Lloyd Jones that's being pipped (er, sorry) to win the prestigious Booker Prize next month.

Sep 14 2007 | Read Full Review of Mister Pip

AV Club

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With many of the island's men gone to work in Australia or to join Bougainville's rebel army, the tribe is greatly reduced, and the duty of teaching the children falls to the one remaining white man—husband of a local woman, but still regarded as a source of vast, alien mysteries, including the q...

Aug 30 2007 | Read Full Review of Mister Pip

The Bookbag

Summary: Beautifully written with not a word wasted, Great Expectations meets tropical island in this look at the love of reading, the terrors of war, post-colonialism and personal integrity.

Jan 07 2011 | Read Full Review of Mister Pip

USA Today

The story of 13-year-old Matilda Laimo, who finds refuge in the story of Pip, is a classically rendered coming-of-age tale.Jones' creative story draws parallels between Pip's trials in 19th-century England and the harsh landscape of Matilda's deprived childhood.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Nancy Connors New York Times 3.5 of 5 Stars "So if Mister Pip is preachy—and it is—it’s also a book with worthwhile thoughts to impart.

Oct 05 2007 | Read Full Review of Mister Pip

London Review of Books

As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them .

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