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 Belfry Holdings, Inc. (P)2001 Random House, Inc. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, a Division of Random House, Inc.
"The kind of book you read slowly because you don't want it to end." (Entertainment Weekly)
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
than my own reading would be.
I am biased against 1st person point-of-view (thanks to the New Adult genre). But this book reminds me how great 1st person can be. And I can’t imagine this story done any other way. This is 1st person Luke. He is seven-years-old. He is always sneaking around and listening to things and seeing things he’s not supposed to. It was exciting. And then he’s got all these secrets. He doesn’t want to keep secrets but he has to. I enjoyed Luke’s thoughts and dialogue. His family is dirt poor but he’s happy. Luke finds joy in daydreams about baseball and getting a St. Louis Cardinals jacket. Luke feels lucky when he compares his life to sharecroppers who have no screens, no fan, and no electricity to listen to the baseball games on the radio. Their kids have no shoes.
I consider John Grisham the king of character development, and this book is full of it. Here’s an example: A poor family buys groceries on credit. Little boy signs the account book at the store for something he is buying. The store lady looks at it and says “Coming along.” She meant his handwriting was improving. I thought she was going to say something negative.
I smiled and enjoyed so many things during this book. At the end I cried, but it wasn’t a depressing cry. It was more about good things people do for others - or do for the principle of the thing. There was a very moving idea at the end – that no matter how dire your circumstances, someone else is worse off and would love to be in your shoes. I was also happy about Luke and his parents starting something new that was going to be good.
Some readers complained that some of the story lines were not finished at the end. I was ok with that. Sure I would have loved to keep going or have a sequel. But that was because the stories were good and I didn’t want to stop.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Luke’s family owns a cotton farm. The story begins in September as they hire a group of Mexicans and a family from the hills to help pick cotton. The Mexicans stay in the barn. The family camps in the yard. The story takes place over the next two months as these characters interact and pick cotton. They play baseball. Some local bullies fight. A carnival comes to town. There’s a mystery about a pregnant teen girl.
David Lansbury’s young boy voice and emotional interpretations were fabulous.
Narrative mode: 1st person Luke.
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.
I loved this story and the telling because I felt I was RIGHT THERE throughout the telling of the book.
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.
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.
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