Mister Pip

Mister Pip

Book - 2007
Average Rating:
Rate this:
After the trouble starts and the soldiers arrive on Matilda's island, only one white person stays behind. Mr. Watts, whom the kids call Pop Eye, wears a red nose and pulls his wife around on a trolley, and he steps in to teach the children when there is no one else. His only lessons consist of reading from his battered copy of Great Expectations, a book by his friend Mr. Dickens. For Matilda, Dickens's hero Pip becomes as real to her as her own mother, and the greatest friendship of her life has begun. Soon Mr. Watts's book begins to inflame the children's imaginations with dreams about Dickens's London and the larger world. But how will they answer when the soldiers demand to know: where is this man named Pip? Set against the stunning beauty of Bougainville in the South Pacific during the civil war in the early 1990s, Lloyd Jones's breathtaking novel shows what magic a child's imagination makes possible even in the face of terrible violence and what power stories have to fuel the imagination.
Publisher: Toronto : Alfred A. Knopf Canada, c2007.
ISBN: 9780676979275
Characteristics: 256 pages ;,20 cm.
Alternative Title: Mr. Pip


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
May 21, 2017

Touching story of a teacher and the community he taught. It shows us the complexity of people and how they can can be so much more than they reveal on the surface.

IPL_Mandy May 17, 2017

A moving story about hope and dedication in the midst of the violent upheaval of civil war. Some of the other commenters seem to think the story is set in a fictional place, but in fact Bougainville is a real place, an island, part of Papua New Guinea. And "redskins" was a term used to refer to workers who came in from the mainland, and the war really happened. So while the story is fiction, the setting is historically accurate. It's a place and event I've never read about before, which is one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much.

Sep 18, 2016

A very difficult book to categorize -- doesn't fit well on any of my shelves. Even more difficult to review.
Goodreads readers' reviews of it are all over the map. It's really several very different books within one cover and they don't get along with each other. There are serious flaws, starting with a middle aged white guy attempting to write in the voice of a 13 year old black girl living in a fairly primitive south Pacific island setting, caught in the middle of a vicious civil war. The mask never fits. Then there's the overly gratuitous brutality of the faction called the "redskins"! Really??
All of which is too bad because the character of Mr. Watts is intriguing and his ability to translate a 19th century English classic into a life-changing experience for the local kids makes for a remarkable story. Perhaps best of all is some of the inspired prose that Watts and his wife had posted on the walls of their child's room. Finally, each reader will have to make up their own mind about the degree to which Jones goes for a free ride on "Great Expectations"; it worked for me but it is problematic.
Those comparing it to Life of Pi are off base. Despite all of that, 2 1/2 stars.

Jun 23, 2016

Wow! I didn't expect this when I started reading. What a well told story.
There are opposites throughout: idyllic island surrounding/Victorian London; peaceful island/rebels & militia; Great Expectations/no expectations. The juxtapositions are harsh and affective.
Mr. Watts, the only white man on the island, takes it upon himself to teach the children during times of war after the school has been closed. He uses Great Expectations as a textbook, teaching the children of a world beyond their own, asking them to open their imaginations. The parallels & similarities between the two worlds are wonderfully interwoven as the story reveals itself.

Jul 30, 2015

excellent! touches so many universal themes, will read again!

PoMoLibrary Jun 30, 2015

From our 2015 #80DayRead Adult Summer Reading Club traveler Nicole: What an extraordinary story. Charles Dicken's Great Expectations and a tragic family struggle from a child's eyes.

WVMLStaffPicks Oct 21, 2014

Mister Pip comes to life amongst the equally vivid inhabitants of a nameless South Pacific island suspended in time. This is a beautiful and harrowing narrative about a girl caught in the undertow of post-colonial influences where she finds solace in the recounting of experiences of a fictional boy living in 19th century London.

Sep 19, 2013

Not an easy read, but an inspiring tribute to the triumph of the human spirit. There was an amazing lack of bitterness. People were presented as survivors, not victims, of the cruelty of war.

Nov 09, 2012

This is a book recommended by a U.T. professor on the 2010 Freshman Reading Round-up list. Although it has a rather sad ending, it is an inspiring tale of courage. I'd definitely recommend it.

BrigidScott Jan 17, 2012

Quirky, and that kept me reading on; but ultimately, verdict is: weird.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Dec 28, 2008

You cannot pretend to read a book. Your eyes will give you away. So will your breathing. A person entranced by a book simply forgets to breathe. The house can catch alight and a reader deep in a book will not look up until the wallpaper is in flames.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at my library

To Top