Mister Pip

"If we have a baby boy, I'd like to call him Finn," I told my husband a few years ago.
"After the character in Great Expectations."
"You mean Pip," he said.
"No, Finn." I replied a little hesitantly. (Swinburne Tech v Oxford University, you see.)
"I think you'll find in the book by Charles Dickens the main character is called Pip."
"And I think you'll find in the film starring Ethan Hawke the main character's called Finn."

Luckily, we were both right - the secret of a happy marriage! - and we now have a beautiful little boy called Finn.

I mention this only because I have just finished a wonderful book by Lloyd Jones called Mister Pip.

Narrated by 13-year-old Matilda, it is set on the South Pacific island of Bougainville against the background of a brutal civil war.

And it tells the story of Mr Watts, a reclusive Englishman (and the only white man on the island) who reopens the village school and uses Great Expectations to teach the children about life.

The book is an homage to reading in general and Charles Dickens in particular, but also to the accumulated wisdom and strength of the islanders, faced as they are with the mindless brutality of war.

It is also a cracking story - the kind of book you read in a couple of days but wish had taken you a couple of months.