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A Painted House | [John Grisham]

A Painted House

In a departure from the legal thriller genre, John Grisham's latest novel draws inspiration from his own rural childhood in Arkansas. Listen and enjoy this moving tale about a 7-year-old boy and the dose of reality that comes, one autumn during the harvest, to take away his innocence. Also available abridged.
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Publisher's Summary

"The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a "good crop."

Thus begins the new novel from John Grisham, a story inspired by his own childhood in rural Arkansas. The narrator is a farm boy named Luke Chandler, age seven, who lives in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents in a little house that's never been painted. The Chandlers farm eighty acres that they rent, not own, and when the cotton is ready they hire a truckload of Mexicans and a family from the Ozarks to help harvest it.

For six weeks they pick cotton, battling the heat, the rain, the fatigue, and sometimes each other. As the weeks pass Luke sees and hears things no seven-year-old could possibly be prepared for, and he finds himself keeping secrets that not only threaten the crop but will change the lives of the Chandlers forever.

©2000, 2001 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.; (P)2001 by Random House, Inc. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, a Division of Random House, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"The kind of book you read slowly because you don't want it to end." (Entertainment Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (730 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Janelle Carter hannie2 06-11-04
    Janelle Carter hannie2 06-11-04 Member Since 2004
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Bittersweet way of life of time past...."

    I listened to this book when it first came out & have recommended it to everyone. Tears came when it was over because I did not want the genre of rural times past to end. It is a book you will listen to over and over. It was a way of life once all over America that we all wish was still here. A time when children built a deeper character and became wiser to life in a way they will miss out in times present. Take everything good about the Waltons and add more maturity, mystery, intrigue, and suspense. What more could you ask for?

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Teaticket, MA, USA 04-06-03
    Christopher Teaticket, MA, USA 04-06-03
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    "A Departure and Yet Another Solid Story"

    This book caught me by surprise - I am I think like most people, in that I have a habit of classifying authors by the themes they write on, and of course this author made that very easy with his previous body of work, which as we all know is the result of his being a part of that profession... However I believe that it is fair to say that this book represents his break-out effort, as he has completely departed from the well-known and comfortable style of his other work and charted new territory here.

    A Painted House will not disappoint. While it is not a part of what we have come to anticipate from the author, this book is not only an enjoyable tale in its own right, but the equal to and I honestly believe perhaps even better than what came before it. It establishes the author as an author in the literal sense, rather than a writer in a limited area.

    This book is best read on a rainy day, preferably on your covered front porch or deck, with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee to keep you company. There is a lot of detail and emotional measure to it, and the perspective will, if you allow yourself to give the empathy that the narrative character deserves, leave you convinced that you've just put down a classic when you are done. I would have given this book six stars if they had let me.

    9 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marie Mobile, AL, USA 04-15-04
    Marie Mobile, AL, USA 04-15-04
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    "Change of Pace for a talented writer."

    Grisham is a brilliant writer of suspense and intrigue, however this offering is quite a change of pace for him. He seems to be in a reflective mode. Perhaps this is a story that he wanted to tell from the past. It's like reading "Little House on the Prairie". Why can't an author have several genres in his genes? Don't expect a courtroom drama or even a story about a lawyer. It's about small town life. However, the mindset of the narrator is a little much for a "seven" year old boy - maybe "twelve".
    This is a great work no matter the author.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Bandera, TX, USA 06-14-05
    Jason Bandera, TX, USA 06-14-05
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    "Engaging characters with little plot"

    I won't say I didn't enjoy this story, but if you are looking for plot twists and action moments (or a real page turner) then avoid this book. The characters aer fascinating and often reminded me of my own family in rural Arkansas. They are believable in a remarkably unbelievable way. No single, dramatic plot develops. Instead you get a life story with a few thrills that are told in a linear fashion with little, if any, suspense. Overall, a good listen or read, but it isn't as captivating as other Grisham works.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Barbara A. Russell Sedona, AZ United States 02-15-03
    Barbara A. Russell Sedona, AZ United States 02-15-03 Member Since 2002

    Triadbooks

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Nice Surprise"

    A new venue for Grisham and one that was done beautifully.
    The story was fascinating and the characters real and well developed.
    His writing ability shines forth in showing that he can write just about anything and make it worthwhile.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Howard J. Morgan Hill, CA, USA 01-27-03
    Howard J. Morgan Hill, CA, USA 01-27-03
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    "Captivating, humorous, sad, and insightful"

    Rarely does one find so many feelings conjured up in a story about life. Yet, this one is a monumental find. Through the eyes of a seven year old who sees far too much for a child his age, we are astounded at his ability to maintain his mental equilibrium. You will find yourself living with him, feeling as he does, as he discovers baseball, child birth, depravity, and humour in a setting of Arkansas farmland. Through it all, in spite of it all, he triumphs.

    10 of 11 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-16-03
    01-16-03 Member Since 2002
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    "A Painted House"

    Wow! One of my favorite books. Nothing like his usual court and law books, and I LOVE John Grisham's court and law books. Just a great story of how things could have been. You can see it happening.

    8 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sheila cleburne, TX, United States 03-05-10
    Sheila cleburne, TX, United States 03-05-10 Member Since 2008
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    "Take a walk back in time."

    I really enjoyed this story. Being from Texas cotton country, this story took me back to a time of hardship and hard work. The characters took on a life of their own, and when it was done, I felt like I had lived that summer and fall in the cotton fields. The strength of the characters comes through and left me proud of those families. I would recommend this to any reader over the age of 12. It not only teaches a bit about life in the farming communities during the depression but also about what moral strength can do to support a family, friends and a community in the darkest of times. Very good.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Norma McPherson, KS, USA 06-04-03
    Norma McPherson, KS, USA 06-04-03
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    "Easy Listening, I wanted the story to go on & on."

    I have read &/or listened to every Gresham book and although this one was very different....it is very good and I look forward to more like this one. Seeing everything through the eyes of a seven year old was very interesting. I identified with the child because I remember the early 50's so well and was nearly the same age as he was in the story. I felt as though they were a family I actually knew. Sometimes listening to a story without having to keep track of so many twists and turns is a good thing. While listening I felt happy, sad, scared and hopeful who could ask for more.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Marti Darling Twisp, Wa United States 04-21-03
    Marti Darling Twisp, Wa United States 04-21-03 Member Since 2002
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    "A Painted House"

    I loved this story and the telling because I felt I was RIGHT THERE throughout the telling of the book.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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