Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

From the back of the book;-

Matilda is a young girl in Bougainville, a tropical island where the horror of civil war lurks. Mr Watts, the only white person, is the self appointed teacher of the tiny school where the only textbook is Dickens’ Great Expectations.

The book is narrated by Matilda, a young teenager. In the first part of the books she carefully paints a picture of life and people on the tropical island village where food is plentiful but not much else in the way of material goods. Many of the men have gone away to join the rebel army leaving mostly women and children but there is one white man who remains to step into a teaching role in the school. He reads ‘Great Expectations’ to the children and some of them including Matilda become enthralled, developing an other world in their imaginations where they can go to get away from the harsh realities of life. For Matilda, ‘Mister Pip’ and the teacher, Mr Watts, become a major diversion from boredom of teenage life and the stressful relationship between herself and her strong willed mother. As the reader, I began to love Lloyd’s characters and so it comes as a tremendous goose pimply shock when the ‘redskins’ arrive with menace to disrupt the flow of life on Bougainville.

The book is beautifully developed and well written. I think it struggles towards the end with Matilda as an adult but this hardly detracts from this great piece of literature.

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