A Painted House
Luke Chandler is a seven-year-old who lives with his family in a small, unpainted house on rented land. In the next six weeks, the Chandlers and a hired band of hill people and Mexicans must bring in the cotton that is their livelihood and the guarantee of their survival on the land. Soon heat, rain, fatigue, a killing and the unravelling of a family secret threaten to destroy the Chandlers' hopes and will transport Luke abruptly from the childhood innocence to experience.
Reviewed on 12th February 2011
This is very different from John Grisham's earlier novels. Following his brief foray away from the legal thriller in The Testament, this book is a coming of age novel focussing on seven-year-old Luke, living on a cotton farm in 1950s Arkansas.
The novel tells the story of one harvest season, introducing Luke and his family and the various challenges that face their farm, including finding labour, crime and bad weather.
I found it surprisingly addictive reading given that this is not a genre I would usually chose. Grisham's writing style is as absorbing as always and the first person narrative from the perspective of a young child is remarkably identifiable, although I think my life is so far removed from that described that it's a little unbelievable that it's only set 60 years ago. But then that's how I often feel when reading Grisham novels.
Overall, I found it an enjoyable read, but I lacked the ability to emotionally connect with the story and its characters, so probably didn't get the most out of it.