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Mister Pip
Lloyd Jones
Adult Fiction JONES

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From Publishers' Weekly:

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. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

The Man Booker Prize is the British version of the National Book Award; this year the honor went to Anne Enright for her novel The Gathering, but also worth considering is finalist Mister Pip (Dial: Random. 2007. ISBN 978-0-385-34106-6. $20) by Lloyd Jones. Set on a Pacific island near New Guinea in the 1990s, this is a tale of war, love, literature, and the power of belief. With the island engulfed in civil strife and the white people having fled, Mr. Watts, the remaining white man, who is married to a native, volunteers to become the schoolteacher and reopens the village school. His text of choice is Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. Matilda, one of his students, is enraptured by the story, finding the fate of Pip a needed escape from the horrors of her own existence. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Mr. Watts
Married to a native of the island; chose to stay behind while the teachers fled from the war; takes over the children's teaching; reads Charles Dicken's Great Expectations.

Matilda Laimo
Precocious; forms a strong attachment with the main character, Pip, from Great Expectations; uses the book as a form of escapsim; learns independence.

Dolores Laimo
Matilda's mother; feels threatened by what Mr. Watts is teaching the children.

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