Well someone made a huge clanger of a mistake throwing this review copy out pristine and unread to the Marylebone High Street Oxfam bookshop, except that Oxfam are in profit and so am I for having read it.
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones published by John Murray and reviewed favourably already on Cornflower and Asylum.
I haven't been back to see what they've written because I've just put the book down and my head is bursting with thoughts that are probably not original but I have to write them down this minute.
A book about power in all its guises.
The physical brute power of civil war
...the power of the human spirit to conquer
...the power of the written word, of literature
...of the oral storytelling tradition
...of teaching and learning
...of memory and imagination
...of morality.."to be human is to be moral and you cannot have a day off when it suits"
...and ultimately of survival.
I thought perhaps I'd own up to the condition a book can end up in by the time I've finished reading and also how I mine the nuggets and remember them.Some people use notebooks but I'm afraid all my books have this sort of thing on the first page and throughout.
I find a pencil sits nicely across the top of my glasses, which I'm told looks unusual.
Matilda growing up on a remote Pacific Island finds herself trapped with her mother and other villagers in a brutal conflagration between rival forces.
Up steps a white resident Mr Watts to continue the children's schooling in the face of much trauma and adversity.
He reads Great Expectations to them and the children share it with their parents and in so doing imaginations are transported far and wide and away from the fears of day to day life on the island.
Pip becomes as real as the next child.
Mr Dickens a man they know.
Lloyd Jones is a New Zealand writer, this the first of his eight books to be published in the UK, and we can but hope that John Murray are picking up some more because I for one would love to read them.
He has nailed the young Matilda's voice so confidently and soundly in this book that you get the feeling whatever he tackles he'd do it well.The ravaged beauty of the Pacific island and the deprivations suffered by the inhabitants all keenly but not excessively illuminated; this is life as they know it and through the resilient unknowing eyes of the young Matilda it's par for the course.
There are a episodes of stomach-churning violence reduced by Lloyd Jones to a few simple sentences, nothing gratuitous and all reflecting Matilda's adult observations
"I remember feeling preternaturally calm. This is what deep fear does to you. It turns you into a state of unfeeling"
The matter-of-fact way this is all disclosed allowing me as a reader to experience a measure of that "state of unfeeling", but I was not to be let off the hook completely.Lloyd Jones quietly made sure the truth sank in, like a muffled sledgehammer, a few sentences later.
A mega-good read, sorry this one won't be going back to Oxfam and wouldn't it be good to see it make the Booker Longlist?
Dare we hope?
Coming soon a collaboration between Dovegreyreader and A.N.Other blog (you'll have to guess until they reveal) planning a joint Blog Bookerthon longlist read for your delectation any day now and it would really help things along if we'd read a few to steal a march, that's the first result to be declared...how many have we tucked under our belt already?
Secondly, am I going to be forced to read Chesil Beach?
Anyone else up for this folly in August?