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The Fur Quits - Wheelybug's book

12 replies

swissmiss · 01/07/2009 20:28

Wheelybugs choice: MP by LJ


OP posts:
cathcat · 27/07/2009 11:23

I have really enjoyed this book. It is not long but beautifully written. I really liked the writer's turn of phrase and his ability to capture the atmosphere or feelings of people in a few sentences. I really felt I was there on the island, listening to Mr Watts!

I couldn't really warm to Matilda's mother and she seemed quite a difficult character to like. Even though her decision at the end was noble it was also foolhardy and makes you question which is the better option - to stay silent and protect yourself and your child, or to speak out on behalf of someone else because of your beliefs. It makes me glad that the decisions in my life are so much more mundane!

You can feel the tension building in the book and you are waiting for something terrible to happen - but when it does it is still a shock! It feels a terrible way to finish off characters but I suppose the author is telling us plainly that this is the reality of living alongside civil unrest and these things really do happen.

Looking back there are many interlocking events that all lead to the final events on the island. Matilda putting the name in the sand, her mother hiding the book, Mr Watts using the name Pip to the rebels. It is interesting to wonder if Mr Watts had not introduced the character of Pip to the children then the events would not have panned out the way they did. (I am talking like this is real life, not a book LOL) When you look at the events backwards you can trace it all back to one starting point.

Just a couple of points that are niggling me ~ I got the impression that Great Expectations was the only book they had but when the villagers burned the Watts' possessions there were lots of books.
How did Matilda know there was a real Mrs Watts in NZ? Did I miss that detail somewhere? (the dangers of reading late at night)
Also why didn't she tell June Watts that her husband was dead? Part of me thinks she should have told the truth and part of me thinks it is better to spare her the horror of what happened.
For me, the ending was slightly unsatisfactory but I think it is very hard to have an ending that finishes off the story well.

In summary this is a great read and I would read more of the same writer. Well done if you read all that..hope it makes sense. I think probably my longest post on MN!

Wheelybug · 27/07/2009 15:07

Glad you enjoted it Cathcat.

Its been a while since I read it so am a bit fuzzy on the finer details but I really enjoyed it too (if enjoyed is the right term !). I agree though that the ending was disappointing after such a powerful/ shocking 'end' to the main bit on the island.

I posted your next book today - v. different but I loved it.

headintheclouds · 24/08/2009 21:14

I really enjoyed this-again it was a book Id picked up and put down again in the shop, as I thought it wasn't for me. It was beautifully written and horrifying.
I too got a shock at what happened in the book-I was convinced it was going to be a happy ending-it was almost unbearable ,and the author I thought was so matter of fact with the violence of it-it will stay with me for a long time

simpson · 20/09/2009 23:12

Just finished this book today

I totally loved it but was thinking the same thing as Cathcat TBH and totally missed how matilda discovered the wife in NZ

I thought the way the book was written was brilliant and very vivid by discribing all the colours and the meaning of the colour blue etc.

However I do think the book let itself down a bit at the end and totally skimmed over how matilda really felt being back with her father or going to high school and adjusting to a new life iyswim.

But over all it was a big hit for me and loved it!!

caykon · 02/10/2009 10:12

Finished this book last night. I didn't put it down I read it in an evening!

I must admit when it arrived I did read the back cover and groan, how could someone write a book about an island a few pwople and one dickens book.

But I was wrong it was a really good book.

When telling dh about this book, I found myself talking about the charaters as if they were real. This is why this is such a good book, it allows you to slip into an alternate reality ( Just like the Matilda was doing in the book).
I loved the way Mr Watts gave the children refuge in the book from the conflict engulfing their island.
This refuge though caused matilida a differant type of conflict, between Mr Watts and her feiercly religous mother. In a similar way to the conflict the villagers had being trapped between the rebels and the soliders.
I didn't really warm to Matildas mother, but I can see she was trying to protect her daughter, or at least her soul. Mr Watts represnted white people in general to Matildas mother, and as she had never seen good come from them this biased her opion of Mr Watts. She only saw Grace going off to study and giving it all up to marry a white man, and her husband being tempted away by money and booze. They were luring the blacks from the path of righteousness and she wanted to protect Matilda from this. In the end though they confirmed a shared moral code, which only caused tradegy for Matilda.
Another part of the book I loved was when Mister Pip (Mr Watts) tells his story to the rebels. You get fiction layered on fiction as Matilda retells Watts version of pips life interweaving Dickens story along with village mythology and Mr Watts own personal autobiography each night. Buying time for their escape on the boat.
As Matilda grows up she comes to understand that literature doesn't just offer an escape, it can take you home. she puts aside her thesis and begins to write the story about the man who taught them whatever happens in our lives, our voice could never be taken away from us.
This book almost has a fable feeling to it.

I however also missed how she found out about Mrs Watts in New Zealand!!

caykon · 02/10/2009 10:13

Sorry about the essay, didnt mean to rant on that much

TeamEdward · 11/10/2009 23:14

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

headintheclouds · 13/11/2009 18:04


steamedxmaspudding · 08/12/2009 16:53

I must confess when I saw that this was a Richard & Judy choice my heart sank, as I have hated every one of their recommended books that I have read so far... but this one wasn't too bad.

I did enjoy reading it and especially loved the parts of the book about their lessons, and when their parents came in to teach them things. The thing that I found most annoying, though, was not knowing whereabouts in the world they were or what the conflict was all about. I know that the book is narrated by a child who wouldn't necessarily know any of these things but I still found it irritating! I eventually came to the conclusion that they must be somewhere in Indonesia but I am probably wrong.

The part where Mr Watts is killed was very shocking and I agree with Simpson that it kind of lost steam after that. I really wanted to know more about what happened to Matilda afterwards, and what her life was like with her father, so I was a bit disappointed that you don't hear more about her later life.

Ultimately, this novel just felt a bit pointless to me - all those deaths for no real reason, and all that trouble that was caused by Matilda's mother. I didn't sympathise with her at all - she seemed to me to be totally malicious. I understand that she thought she was protecting her daughter, but her dislike of Mr Watts seemed to blind her to what would be the true consequences of her actions.

Overall I thought this book was OK. I still haven't revised my opinion of Richard & Judy's book choices though...

cathcat · 09/12/2009 18:48

I think the island is one of the islands of Papua New Guinea.

steamedxmaspudding · 10/12/2009 08:40

Ah that would make sense. Did wonder about them but wasn't aware of any conflicts going on - must do some research!

LightShinesInTheDarkness · 09/07/2010 23:34

Just finished this - I was determined not to like it because I am always suspicious of books that have pages and pages of plaudits! However, on the whole I think they were largely deserved.

One thing which really struck me was that the author is a middle-aged white man, which made his characterisation of Matilda all the more admirable. Really skilful.

The whole story was multi-layered, with so many threads and inter-weaving messages. I cried when Mr Watts and mum died - for some reason I was expecting a happy ending.

I didn't get about the wife either, and think that was intentional. Part of a twist in the tale - when Mr Watts was explaining about Grace renting half the house when she was a dental nurse, he didn't mention that he lived in the other half with his wife!

This is not a book I would rave about, but for some reason I think the images and ideas it conjures up will keep coming back to me (probably when I least expect them - like the fragments of Great Expectations!) for a while. Which I think makes a really good book, whether I 'liked' it or not is largely irrelevant.

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