As well as being a prolific novelist, Lloyd has published essays and children's books. His best known works include The Book of Fame, winner of numerous literary awards, Biografi, a New York Times Notable Book, Choo Woo, Here at the End of the World We Learn to Dance, Paint Your Wife and Mister Pip, winner of the 2007 Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Montana Medal for Fiction or Poetry, and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Jones is currently living in Germany as the recipient of the Creative New Zealand Berlin Writers' Residency.
A promising though ultimately overwrought portrayal of the small rebellions and crises of disillusionment that constitute a young narrator's coming-of-age unfolds against an ominous backdrop of war in Jones's latest. When the conflict between the natives and the invading "redskin" soldiers erupts on an unnamed tropical island in the early 1990s, 13-year-old Matilda Laimo and her mother, Dolores, are unified with the rest of their village in their efforts for survival. Amid the chaos, Mr. Watts, the only white local (he is married to a native), offers to fill in as the children's schoolteacher and teaches from Dickens's Great Expectations. The precocious Matilda, who forms a strong attachment to the novel's hero, Pip, uses the teachings as escapism, which rankles Dolores, who considers her daughter's fixation blasphemous. With a mixture of thrill and unease, Matilda discovers independent thought, and Jones captures the intricate, emotionally loaded evolution of the mother-daughter relationship. Jones (The Book of Fame; Biografi) presents a carefully laid groundwork in the tense interactions between Matilda, Dolores and Mr. Watts, but the extreme violence toward the end of the novel doesn't quite work. Jones's prose is faultless, however, and the story is innovative enough to overcome the misplayed tragedy. (July) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
When violence hits a tropical island, the only white man who refuses to leave delights the children by reading them Great Expectations. Great expectations, too, for New Zealand author Jones. Reading group guide. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.