August 31, 2014

Book: A Painted House by John Grisham

Filed under: Books — Tags: , , — krishnafromtoronto @ 12:27 am

A very unusual story from John Grisham. Not a lawyer in sight! No court cases, no legal aspects. But John shows that he can tell a simple story of a Southern US family with as much verve and panache as he can weave his lawyer stimagesories.

The story is that of the Chandlers: Luke, a young boy who is into baseball and who dreams of making it big in the game is the main character. His elder brother Ricky is away in an army posting and we learn later that he made a girl pregnant. There ia  dad and  mom with an interesting dynamic between them. Mom is not very happy to be in a farm struggling to make ends meet but the patriarch, Pappy who is the grandpa of Luke, exerts a huge influence and control over this joint family and so it is not easy to up the sticks and go.

Pappy the grandfather lives life farming cotton and gets Mexicans who come from across the border to help him. Without their help he is sunk. Also, he goes and collects them from a main square and if he goes too late, he will not get anyone. This year, he has got the help of the Spruills. Among them is a man called Hank who seems to be brutal

Tilly who lets Luke see her naked and takes him to peek at the delivery of the girl whom Rick had made pregnant. Cowboy, who gets beaten by Hank but whom Tilly has a crush on.

In a fair, Hank downs the man who challenges everyone for duel. Cruel, wicked dude.

Jimmy Dale the city cousin and his uppity wife Stacy. Afraid of snakes and made to sit in the pot in terror by Luke. A fun interlude about city folks and their oh so superior manners.

Storm hits the town. Then Luke discovers TV and his world opens up!

Hank, the troublemaker, is made to leave and Cowboy kills him on the bridge seen only by Luke. He is terrorized into keeping quiet, and then Tally runs away with Cowboy, not knowing that she is his brother’s murderer!

The house is being painted by Luke after hearing snide allusions about the state of the house from some other townsfolk. This becomes the metaphor for the story. The cotton fields get flooded and the Mexicans leave early, having nothing to pick.

Painting job is finished by Luke. The house painting nears completion.

Lovely little book, with none of the usual courtroom drama that Grisham is famous for, but nevertheless a very intimate and absorbing look of a family of farmers.

The final, agonizing decision to move to a big city with parents, leaving grandma and grandpa alone is well told, and the economic necessity of doing so also comes out well.

A new topic for John Grisham and I should say he has handled it well. I will give it a 7/10

– Krishna


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