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 two weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist high to my father, almost over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words ...
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 two weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist high to my father, almost 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 seven year old farm boy named Luke Chandler, 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 finds himself keeping secrets that not only threaten the crop but will change the lives of the Chandlers forever. A Painted House is a moving story of one boy's journey from innocence to experience.
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I love author John Grisham. In this story I learned indepth about "cotton-picking" around the 1950's. I related because my father picked cotton as a boy in the south. Well written, with slow twists and turns, unlike Mr. Grisham's other stories. Indeed it was a painted house - of the Mexicans and Americans working together picking cotton, to paint a human-house story; and then the actual old house that was never painted, getting painted by an invalid boy. Awesome storyline.
Dec 10, 2007
A departure for Grisham.
In this novel by Grisham, A Painted House, he tells the story from the perspective of seven year old Luke Chandler. Luke lives with his parents and Grandparents in the low lands of Arkansas. The family comes from a long line of cotton farmers and they face the prospect of harvesting a bumper crop of cotton but must find the right migrant workers to help them complete the job. Set during the time of the Korean war. Luke and his family struggle to earn enough money to pay off the farm depts. The hire two groups of migrant workers, the hiill people and the mexican laborers, who each bring color and an element of mystery to the Chandler farm. Luke's life gets very complicated when he witnesses violence up close and he must then decide how to protect himself and his family. I especially liked the rural setting with Grisham's flair for colorful and accurate descriptions of small town life and the struggles that real folks go through. Overall a very solid book and an enjoyable read.
Publishers Weekly, 2001-01-22 Who needs lawyers? Not Grisham, in his captivating new novel, now between hardcovers after serialization in the Oxford American. Here there are hardscrabble farmers instead, and dirt-poor itinerant workers and a seven-year-old boy who grows up fast in a story as rich in conflict and incident as any previous Grisham and as nuanced as his very best. It's September 1952 in rural Arkansas when young narrator Luke Chandler notes that "the hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day." These folk are in Black Oak for the annual harvest of the cotton grown on the 80 acres that the Chandlers rent. The three generations of the Chandler family treat their workers more kindly than most farmers do, including engaging in the local obsessionDplaying baseballDwith them, but serious trouble arises among the harvesters nonetheless. Most of it centers around Hank Spruill, a giant hillbilly with an equally massive temper, who one night in town beats a man dead and who throughout the book rubs up against a knife-wielding Mexican who is dating Hank's 17-year-old sister on the sly, leading to another murder. In fact, there's a mess of trouble in Luke's life, from worries about his uncle Ricky fighting in Korea to concerns about the nearby Latcher family and its illegitimate newborn baby, who may be Ricky's son. And then there are the constant fears about the weather, as much a character in this novel as any human, from the tornado that storms past the farm to the downpours that eventually flood the fields, ruining the crop and washing Luke and his family into a new life. Grisham admirers know that this author's writing has evolved with nearly every book, from the simple mechanics that made The Firm click to the manifestations of grace that made The Testament such a fine novel of spiritual reckoning. The mechanics are still visible hereDas a nosy, spying boy, Luke serves as a nearly omnipresent eye to spur the novel along its courseDbut so, too, are characters that no reader will forget, prose as clean and strong as any Grisham has yet laid down and a drop-dead evocation of a time and place that mark this novel as a classic slice of Americana. Agent, David Gernert. (One-day laydown, Feb. 6) FORECAST: Will Grisham's fans miss the lawyers? Not hardly. This is a Grisham novel all the way, despite its surface departures from the legal thrillers, and it will be received as such, justifying the 2.8-million first printing. (For more on Grisham, see Book News, p. 178) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 2001-06-04 Grisham fans will not despair as they discover that this finely wrought tale includes no lawyers. Instead, the author presents an evocation of the life of a young boy growing up on a Southern farm in hard times during the fall 1952 cotton-picking season. Lansbury, an actor of stage and screens, both big and small, brings a sweet innocence to the voice of narrator, Luke Chandler. Luke, a curious, even nosy seven-year-old, witnesses a series of events that range from the dramatic to the profoundly disturbing including a birth, a flood and a couple of killings. Lansbury gives each character his or her own distinctive voice: low and gruff for Luke's grandfather, Pappy; tough and huffy for troublesome Hank, one of the "hill people" the Chandlers hire to help pick the cotton; soft and gentle for Luke's mother. The range of voices helps listeners as he enacts dialogue; but when switching between dialogue and his narration as Luke, Lansbury's performance is far less smooth. Still, Lansbury's is an effective reading of a provocative novel that will please and surprise Grisham's many fans. Simultaneous release with the Doubleday hardcover (Forecasts, Jan. 22). (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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