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MISTER PIP By: Lloyd Jones February 3, 2010

Posted by lycan librarian in book reviews, Books and reading, Uncategorized.
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     Do you recall my telling you that there are sometimes books that are not classified as horror, but hold scenes far more horrifying, and haunt the reader much longer than those written to terrify? Well, MISTER PIP, a novel set on a tropical, peaceful New Guinea island in the early 1990’s, may help me prove my point. This book is told from 13-year-old Matilda’s point of view. She is in the class of Mr. Watts, a mysterious white man who pulls his obese black wife around on a trolley while wearing a red clown nose. At first, the students can’t imagine what this man intends to teach them, but he captures their imaginations and their hearts when he begins to read GREAT EXPECTATIONS aloud to them. Young Matilda begins to see Pip as a person, and she tells her mother the boy is as real to her as God. Matilda’s mother then fears the teacher is the enemy of her daughter’s soul.
     The island’s residents are thrust into the middle of a terrible civil war, and are at the mercy of both the rebels, and the invading Redskins, upsetting the island’s tranquility and threatening the lives of every person there, and Mr. Watts is the only white man who does not flee. I won’t divulge the horrific scenes, spoil the plot for you, or tell you who does and who does not survive.  There are so many scenes that I read with utter surprise or pure delight, and I doubt the reaction would have been as strong if I had known about them beforehand. (I am the type who never reads the jacket blurb before I read the book, itself, for fear of learning too much ahead of time.) I will tell you that this book is a welcome and terrific escape, and a reminder of the strength of imagination, the power of the human mind and spirit, and the magic of literature. Prepare, once you finish this book, to seek out Dickens’ GREAT EXPECTATIONS to see what profound effect “the greatest English writer of the nineteenth century” (according to Mr. Watts) has on you.

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