It seems I blogged about this book too early. I sat down to read today - day off, outside, on my patio, ahhhh... - and the book is suddenly so much better than I thought.
As the backdrop of war and violence intersects with the foreground story of Matilda and the two adults in her life, all the themes deepen and intersect. Mister Pip is about trust and betrayal, memory and forgetting, safety and fear, obedience and resistance, our sense of self, our sense of otherness, the creation of art, and what part of us cannot be destroyed.
Excellent book. Technically "young adult fiction," I think, but the best of that genre always works for not-so-young adults, as well.