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Matilda lives on an island somewhere in the Pacific - but this is no paradise. Civil war is a fact of life, though at first the village is largely left alone by the soldiers and the rebel fighters. The school is closed but then Mr Watts, the only white man on the island, steps forward to do what he can to help. He begins by reading Great Expectations aloud to his students, a chapter a day. Stories flourish on the island. While the lives of Pip and Magwitch and other Dickens' characters are transformed in their new tropical setting, the locals come to the schoolhouse to tell their own tales - about the meaning of the colour blue, about broken dreams, black birds and devil women. In Matilda's eyes, Pip is as real as any living person. He has become her friend. She writes his name in the sand and decorates it with shells. That's where the redskin soldiers see it, and decide they must track this stranger down. Who is this Mr Pip? The search to find him will have devastating consequences for Matilda, Mr Watts and the entire village.