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They call me Mister Pip.

Mister Pip
Lloyd Jones
Dial Press/Random House
Hardcover, $20

I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to write about this book. I guess I was lost in the South Seas along with the characters. Mister Pip was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, bragging rights for a worthy novel. Set in the Solomon Islands in the early 1990s during Bougainville’s struggle for independence, the story follows the lives of a small group of village children and the only white man on the island. The white man is recruited to be the teacher to the small band of children. His main teaching tool is Dickens’ Great Expectations. The children are enthralled by 19th century London and eagerly await their daily installment of the novel. They carry home the serialized epic to their family and the boy Pip becomes a part of their lives. But the island’s isolation is no protection from the realities of the conflicts in the area and soon the villages are caught between rebel soldiers and mercenaries.

This story pulls you in and maybe it’ll even bring you back to the first time you met Pip. The young narrator’s voice takes you far away from the world you know. Jungle and ocean hang in the background as delight and fear dance across the pages. This is a beautifully told story of discovery and awakening.

One Response to “”

  1. Rodney →
    September 4, 2008 at 9:30 pm #

    Mr. Pip is an excellent book. Lloyd Jones is a highly skilled author. All of his characters are completely believable, which is really amazing when you realize how different they are from him. They behave the way they should and must, both in calm times and intense times. The book succeeds in bringing the reader into several cultures without being obvious that it is doing so. Through the admirable subterfuge of a changed character, we are drawn into the primitive in modern times and the modern engaged in the primitive. The book causes great pain but uplifts in superior measure. I just finished it, but I have the feeling that I’ve read a life changing book.

    Thanks Stanley, for recommending it!