Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Mister Pip is quite simply one of the greatest novels of our time.
Matilda lives on an island in the Pacific-but this is no paradise. Civil war is a fact of life and the school is closed. But then Mr Watts, the only white man on the island, steps forward to do what he can to help. He begins by reading Great Expectations aloud to his students, a chapter a day.
While the lives of Pip and Magwitch and other Dickens characters are transformed in their new tropical setting, the locals come to the schoolhouse to tell their own tales-about the meaning of the colour blue, about broken dreams, black birds and devil women.
In Matilda's eyes, Pip is as real as any living person. He has become her friend. She writes his name in the sand and decorates it with shells. That's where the redskin soldiers see it, and decide they must track this stranger down. Who is this Mr Pip? The search to find him will have devastating consequences for Matilda, Mr Watts and the entire village.
Mister Pip is a novel about the power of the imagination and of storytelling. It is about loyalty, betrayal, grief, love and memory.
A promising though ultimately overwrought portrayal of the small rebellions and crises of disillusionment that constitute a young narrator's coming-of-age unfolds against an ominous backdrop of war in Jones's latest. When the conflict between the natives and the invading "redskin" soldiers erupts on an unnamed tropical island in the early 1990s, 13-year-old Matilda Laimo and her mother, Dolores, are unified with the rest of their village in their efforts for survival. Amid the chaos, Mr. Watts, the only white local (he is married to a native), offers to fill in as the children's schoolteacher and teaches from Dickens's Great Expectations. The precocious Matilda, who forms a strong attachment to the novel's hero, Pip, uses the teachings as escapism, which rankles Dolores, who considers her daughter's fixation blasphemous. With a mixture of thrill and unease, Matilda discovers independent thought, and Jones captures the intricate, emotionally loaded evolution of the mother-daughter relationship. Jones (The Book of Fame; Biografi) presents a carefully laid groundwork in the tense interactions between Matilda, Dolores and Mr. Watts, but the extreme violence toward the end of the novel doesn't quite work. Jones's prose is faultless, however, and the story is innovative enough to overcome the misplayed tragedy.