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Ron J. Miller
5.0 out of 5 starsGrisham Delivers Another Page Turner
Reviewed in the United States on March 1, 2019
This is obviously a different sort of book for Grisham. No matter the subject matter, he has such a great way of writing that this was thoroughly enjoyable. The thing about John Grisham is that some writers over-write details, side stories and conversations such that I get bored. Grisham is the master of balance. He has a way of telling a story full of depth and richness, without boring the reader with back story. Like no one else I ever read, he crafts books that are page turners that maintain my interest throughout. So even though A Painted House is a different sort of story and one that I probably wouldn't have picked up if anyone else had written it, because of Grisham's style, this is a great book. I completely enjoyed it from cover-to-cover.
This is a departure from the standard Grisham legal thriller, the story revolves around a poor southern family in the '50s trying to keep their cotton farm afloat. To do this, they must employ temporary help. In the end we have four families to study. The Spruills, who are "hillbillies," a group of Mexicans, the family of a 15-year old girl who has just given birth, and the central family, the three-generation Chandlers, who live together in house that would look classier for want of paint. An unspoken character is the tiny town of Black Oak, where everybody knows everybody else and the shop owners kindly sneak young Luke his coveted Tootsie Rolls. And there's the stern minister who shouts his sermons and seems to "make up sins as he goes along." And then there's intrigue, but I don't want to spoil the plot.
5.0 out of 5 starsbut I think I'm in the camp with the people who like his non-legal novels best
Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2018
I'm a Grisham fan anyway, but I think I'm in the camp with the people who like his non-legal novels best. Although it's hard to call a novel with murder and poverty "lovely," it really is a charming story. I like that the writer doesn't try to talk like a 7-year-old Arkansian, but rather expresses his thoughts through adult prose. I read all sorts of symbolism into the painting of the house--something that brings people together, something that covers up much like covering up the secrets in the novel--I'm sure there are other meanings in there. Like other reviewers, I came to the end and wondered "when is the sequel coming"--and I never think that way!
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2017
If you are expecting one of Grisham's books about lawyers and lawsuits, this might disappoint you. For those of you who enjoy William Faulkner or even Steinbeck, this will be a surprise. A story of growing up poor in East Arkansas cornfields during the time of the Korean War, it is a well written and touching account of his younger years on the farm. Well done.
I've read several Grisham books, his legal thrillers, and his other stories. I think I enjoy the "others" more. This book was narrated by a seven year old farm boy, and the plot is a mildly autobiographical account of cotton farming life. It's a hard life, and as described through the eyes of a young boy, it describes a point in time (1952) in a specific geographic place (rural Arkansas).
Some reviewers said that nothing happens in the book, but that feeling of nothingness is Grisham's ability to convey how life on a cotton farm is completely dependent on weather. To the point that nothing can happen unless the weather allows it. We see hopelessness and hope, sometimes from the same characters. The book is muted in some ways, but it tells a powerful story of the day-in-day-out cotton harvest.
Reviewed in the United States on November 10, 2020
This story is about poor white southern family in the 50's trying to make a living growing cotton. The story is told through the eyes of Luke and 7 year boy. I found it interesting because it took place in the 50's. I was a child in that time period and i grew up on a diary farm up north. My father took a job in a factory working nights to keep the farm afloat. The difference between the Chandlers and us was that we grow wheat and corn. And I could identify many of the struggles farmers endure. I completely enjoyed this book from the first page to the last
I put off reading this book for several years because it looked like it wasn't my cup of tea from Grisham (ie a law based story). I should have continued to put it off. I think part of the problem was that the story is told by a 7 year old so his perspective didn't really hold my attention. It's a short story but could have been told in an even shorter format ... too drawn out for a simple story. The only upside is that I learned I never want to live in Arkansas & raise cotton. I appreciate that Grisham wants to stretch his literary wings but just need to remember that it may not appeal to everyone.
5.0 out of 5 starsMy husband and I loved this book. He is from the South and saw his childhood.
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2019
My husband is vision impaired so I read to him. For a change we both loved this book. It was hard to stop reading, and put it down. The young boy, age 7, reminded my husband so much of his growing years. His parents also raised cotton, and had pickers and African American families come and stay with them during harvest. Also the fact that Farming was difficult, and not profitable. Often unable to break even, after paying for seed, fertilizer, and the pickers.
John Grisham is one of my favourite authors. Away from the courtroom and the legal world, this is set in the early 1950's in the Arkansas 'cotton belt'. The late summer of 1952 is seen through the eyes of 7 yo, aspiring baseball player named Luke, as his poor farming family struggle to gather in the cotton crop. An excellent and easy read. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2019
This book is a wonderful adventure of a young boy in the Deep South of America. The simplicity of family life where farming cotton is everything during the summer picking season. His life affirming experiences are explained and detailed wonderfully by Grisham. The story gives the reader an insight into the life where the Sunday trip into the local town can be a highlight. The adventures the children have are Tom Sayer like
A complete departure on theme from any of John Grisham's previous novels shouldn't detract from the reading enjoyment to be gained from this, his latest book. Mr Grisham relates the events of summer 1952, in the life of Luke Chandler, a 7 year old only child in the year 1952 in rural Baptist-dominated Arkansas. From this seemingly innocent platform, Mr Grisham builds in all of the devices which contribute to a modern-day best-selling novel ; romance, sex, violence, family intrigue, religious and sporting tensions, combined with the uncertainty of outcome. In doing so, Mr Grisham has, once again, demonstrated that he has the insight and capability to conjure an imaginative tale incorporating all of the above into an entertaining and descriptive piece of modern fictional literature and with his story-telling gift, the book has all the ingredients to be another best-seller. He has written a simple, but good story with sensitivity and wit (I laughed out loud at the "shitsnake" event). Having been a "wee boy", albeit many years ago, I could relate to all the youthful pressures, aspirations, dreams , sensitivities and insensitivities experienced by Luke, the subject of the story. Mr Grisham has written a clever, touching and intriguing book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. In some respects, it was a bit like a serious Adrian Mole, but with early rural American overtones. Having read all of his previous novels, I was pleased to find that he could remain as entertaining a novelist outside of his specialty of themes centred on the law.
5.0 out of 5 starsA classic American novel, an unexpected delight
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 30, 2010
I haven't read any of Grisham's legal thrillers as they're not really the kind of thing I normally enjoy, but I picked this up because I'd heard it was different and it seemed more my type of book. I wasn't disappointed. I've never read anything that captures a time and a place as well as this does. It has much in common with 'To Kill a Mockingbird' - set in the American south, narrated by a child, superb characterization. It's almost as good too, which is really saying something. If there's one weakness I'd say that for a seven-year-old boy, this kid is really on the ball (and would he really have been so keen to see a girl bathing naked in the river at that age? I can't remember that far back, so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt). And talking of balls, another minor complaint is that there was more about baseball than I really need to know. Other than that, it's a great novel.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 14, 2018
This book was very well written as you would expect from the author. The story was told by a seven year old boy living in rural Arkansas on a cotton farm. The story is set one summer during the cotton picking season and the events that unfold lead the boy to learn several ‘secrets’ that he struggles to live with.