Welcome to the Maribyrnong Library Book Club

Love to read? Love sharing your ideas about books and writing? Then you've come to the right place.

This blog is an extension of our book groups which we welcome you to attend on the first Tuesday of each month.

Contact Maureen on 9688 0290 for more information.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mister Pip - Lloyd Jones

Mister Pip is the story of Matilda, a girl in her early teens living on Bogainville Island during the civil war in the 1990s.  When her teacher leaves the island, Matilda is surprised to find the replacement teacher is Pop-Eye, the only white man left on the island.  He introduces the kids to Charles Dickens through Great Expectations.

Listening to Pop-Eye read Great Expectations becomes the highlight of Matilda's day to day life and provides an escape from the mounting tensions surrounding the war.  Pip in particular becomes a friend and model for Matilda who believes his story can provide answers she cannot find on the island.  Her mother, a devout and superstitious Christian, clashes with the more logical and worldly Pop-Eye, especially over what values Matilda and the other students should be brought up with.  As Matilda is evermore swayed by Pop-Eye and Dicken's description of the virtues of the English gentleman, Matilda's combative mother becomes increasingly desperate to teach her daughter traditional native and Christian values.

Mister Pip's main detractor is its pacing.  For the most part the plot moves at a barely discernable pace, then in the space of a couple of chapters several major events occur that significantly impact Matilda's life.  While this might be an attempt to imitate the nature of life's uphevavals, I found it made for an unsatisfying narrative structure.  However, the characters are well fleshed out and overall the book was an enjoyable read.

Mister Pip is available as a book group set from Maribyrnong Library Service.

The opinions posted here are my own and not those of Maribyrnong City Council.

Michael Lay

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