Mister Pip - Book of the Month
by Lloyd Jones
This wonderful, surprising and, in some ways, shocking, novel is set on the south Pacific island of Bougainville. Although the story is fictional, the background against which it is set – international exploitation of natural resources; the islanders’ rebellion; savage occupying troops; and ‘ethnic cleansing’ – is based on actual events that were taking place on the island from the late 1980’s onwards.
The narrator is Matilda, a fourteen-year-old girl living with her mother, Dolores, in a village by the sea, and it is through her innocent but intelligent perception that we understand the strange events that occur. Elsewhere, ‘redskin’ troops invade the island but the effects on the village are tangential – power and medicine supplies are cut and the school teachers flee the island. One day, however, the only white person in the village, a tall shambolic man in a white linen suit, known to the children as ‘Pop Eye’, re-opens the school and begins to read Great Expectations to the children.
Great Expectations causes problems within the village as children become engrossed but parents find it at odds with their traditional morality. And when the war encroaches on the village, the novel puts the villagers in danger as the invading troops fail to understand the concept of fictional characters.
MISTER PIP isn’t out in paperback until February but it is a gorgeous little book and you can buy it in hardback from Amazon for only £6.49.
Read our interview with Lloyd Jones.