Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones - review by John Thieme

John Thieme

Pip in the Pacific

Mister Pip


John Murray 220 pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

‘Characters migrate.’ New Zealander Lloyd Jones’s Mister Pip takes this aphorism from Umberto Eco as its epigraph and it has multiple resonances in his novel. The thirteen-year-old narrator Matilda’s father has migrated to Australia; the most influential male influence on her young life, Mr Watts, the last white man for miles around, has settled on her Pacific island of Bougainville. 

At a time of political crisis, the mysterious Mr Watts becomes a stand-in schoolmaster for Matilda and other young islanders, bringing a sense of order into their lives by reading them daily instalments of Great Expectations. As he does so, he creates an imaginative universe that allows them to ‘escape’

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