One of the best things about reading this fine book was my ability to complete it while here at the Byron Bay Writer's Festival, a celebration of quality literature and authors.  I might add it was a double pleasure after attending the dismal, depressing APLIC conference at Gold Coast last week where I had the unusual experience of sharing a large convention hall of "librarians" who had nothing to say about books.

But on to the story at hand.  Matilda is the single child of Delores, a woman whose husband abandoned their island home to work in Australia and was unable to return when a revolution and blockade cut his family and their neighbors from the rest of the world.  Enter into this bleak scene the eccentric Mr. Watts, a gaunt white man who undertakes the task of reopening the local school by reading the children Great Expectations. Matilda becomes transfixed by the novel as it reveals to her a world so different and alien from the one she inhabits, and perhaps the one thing the book offers which her surroundings do not: hope and the transformative power of changing fortunes.  As she becomes more engrossed in the story, Matilda's relationship with her mother deteriorates, primarily because of Delores' jaundiced view of life sprung from her husband's abandonment and a very narrow interpretation of the Bible.

This book takes you into a different world, much like Great Expectations does, but the world of Matilda is dangerous and narrow.  There are some shocking developments as the narrative completes, but overall, Mister Pip is well worth your time!

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