Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones

mr-pip.jpgIf you haven’t read GREAT EXPECTATIONS by Charles Dickens, this short novel may move you to do so…or not. It is told from the viewpoint of Matilda, a 14 year old girl living on a fictional island during a civil war among the soldiers and rebels. Only one white person remains, a man named Mr. Watts who is married to a black native. He re-opens the village school and starts to teach the native children by asking every adult in the village to come in and tell one thing they know something about. He also starts to read from the one book that he owns, GREAT EXPECTATIONS. Each child interprets it differently, and Matilda uses the character of Pip as an escape from her imperiled life on the island.  When the book disappears, the teacher and students do their best to recreate it by jotting down fragments they each remembered. The book is the center of the natives’ lives and while offering them a diversion, it also plays a key role in some tragic occurences. Certain sections are upsetting, but on the whole this was a very interesting book that begs to be read more than once.

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