Original Title: Mister Pip
Year Published: 2006
Published by: The Text Publishing Company
Number of Pages: 256
First Sentence: “Everyone called him Pop Eye.“
Goodreads Rating: 5/5
On a copper-rich tropical island shattered by war, where the teachers have fled with almost everyone else, only one white man chooses to stay behind: the eccentric Mr. Watts, object of much curiosity and scorn, who sweeps out the ruined schoolhouse and begins to read to the children each from Charles Dickens’s classic Great Expectations.
So begins this rare, original story about the abiding strength that imagination, once ignited, can provide. As artillery echoes in the mountains, thirteen-year-old Matilda and her peers are riveted by the adventures of a young orphan named Pip in a city called London, a city whose contours soon become more real than their own blighted landscape. But in a ravaged place where even children are forced to live by their wits and daily survival is the only objective, imagination can be a dangerous thing.
This is a book that I had to read for uni. I never expected to love it as much as I did. We get to follow young Matilda, a young black girl on an island ravaged with redskins and rebels. When all the teachers have fled the island, the only white man in the village, Mr. Watts take over as teacher. Amongst other things he read Great Expectations to the children. Matilda find herself falling in love with the story and Pip becomes a friend to her.
Jones has cleverly intertwined the story of Great Expectations with Matilda’s own story which is just as tragic. Matilda applies the characters from Dickens’s book on people in her own life. Not only does Great Expectations allow her to travel to another world it also gives her a friend and a direction in life.
Mr. Watts is at the start a mysterious figure, who pulls his wife along on a small red trolley, but becomes a figure of salvation for young Matilda. He is the one who introduces her to Dickens’s works, and she becomes determined to figure Mr. Watts out since he is so mysterious about his own background.
This is a fantastic story about survival and imagination. It’s a great example of our lives not being that different from characters in books and that you can easily find friends in books when you really need one.
Do I recommend it?
Yes. It’s a great book and was very easy to read. The 256 pages just flew by and it never ceased to entertain me.