Catching up with Mr. Pip

16 12 2007

I’ve been debating about the whole concept of “catching up.”

I’ve had time for a few days to post a blog, seeing as the marking has come to an end (for this term at least). I supposed it is the idea that I need to catch-up on all the reading and business of life that has transpired for the past three and a half months that has kept me from posting.

So there will be no catching-up of that time and instead of backtracking I’ll move forward and talk about the book I just put down moments ago.

I’d heard a bit about Mr. Pip before I began my reading and the Artsy Mama read it first (as I was still marking) and highly recommended it.

I didn’t take to Mr. Pip immediately. And that surprised me. I took Mr. Pip along for my train journeys and perhaps that was the problem, all the hustle and bustle of big cities and exam evaluations and getting myself on the right train. Mr. Pip didn’t work its spell on me until I sat down and devoted all my attention to it this afternoon.

The story is told by Matilda, a young teenage girl living on a tropical island that is shut off from the outside world because of war. As the people on the island cope with the realities of this existence, Mr. Watts, the only white man left on the island, begins to read to the children from Great Expectations.

Mr. Watts, as seen by Matilda, is a complex and somewhat eccentric man, but even after Matilda discovers more of his “real” history at the end of the story, he remains in her mind and in my mind and probably in many readers’ minds a sort of magical figure who is all the admirable for inspiring her to believe in her voice and in the power of story.

It is a book about the power of reading and story and character. And it focuses on how literature, how a story and a character connects with you, transforms you, and, most importantly, helps you to survive. It seems quite a simple story and it is told – even its most horrific moments, when the violence of the book, though not entirely unexpected, became quite shocking – with a straightforwardness that becomes by the end of the book quite achingly beautiful.

I’ve never read Great Expectations myself, but I will be as part of the My Year of Reading Dangerously Challenge, and I think as I enter the world of Dickens I’ll carry something of Matilda and Mr. Watts with me, just as they carried Mr. Dickens and his words with them.

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13 01 2008
Review: Great Expectations (Part 1) « still waters

[…] Year of Reading Dangerously” challenge.  January’s book is Great Expectations and I stated before I was really looking forward to it as my first exposure to Dickens (in the written form) and also […]

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