By Lloyd Jones
Published by Penguin Books (NZ) 2008
‘Sad, beautiful, poignant, moving and honest, this is a remarkable book.’ – GOOD BOOK GUIDE
‘Here is a novel that, with amplitude and ease, affirms the acts of reading and writing as precious pursuits, as acts of survival, escape, renewal.’ – THE SCOTSMAN
‘Mr Watts, with his quiet courage, innate sense of courtesy and unshakeable belief in the redemptive power of storytelling, is my pick as the year’s most memorable fictional character.’ – SUNDAY STAR-TIMES
‘It reads like the effortless soar and dip of a grand piece of music, thrilling singular voices, the darker, moving chorus, the blend of light and shade, the thread of grief urgent in every beat and the occasional faint, lingering note of hope.’ – THE AGE
‘This is an extraordinary novel, real yet touched with magic, intellectually and emotionally satisfying.’ SUNDAY
‘Rarely has any novel… combined charm, horror and uplift in quite such a super-abundance.’ – THE INDEPENDENT
My comments :
In Bougainville, an exotic and isolated island in the Pacific, a self-appointed teacher will forever change the life of a small village through his readings of a Dickens’ novel to the local black children.
Mathilda, one of them, is soon riveted to the story and develops close bonds with Mr Pip, the main character of Great Expectation. This 19th century, British society is new to her and she’s soon enthralled by this new world, so different from hers. Her imagination nurtured by the daily readings will open her mind, transform her views and enable her to temporarily escape the surrounding violence. Only later will she find out that reading is not such a harmless activity.
Loads of praises have already been issued about Mr Pip. Just let me add that this beautiful, captivating fable-like book is one to be never forgotten.
Lloyd Jones’s narrative is the epitome of the power of reading, the force of imagination and the danger of ignorance. As such, Mr Pip is awarded pride of place in my favourite list.
May 21, 2014