26 Apr 2020

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Book Review / A Painted House by John Grisham

"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 three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, 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 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.

Published:     3rd February 2004
Publisher:  Bantam
Goodreads :  Click here
Series or Stand-Alone:  Stand-Alone
Source:  Owned


What a beautiful story...   Continuing on my journey of reading all of John Grisham's novels, I was particularly looking forward to this one because by the description it had a similar feel to his first novel, A Time to Kill (which I loved).  This story has a different feel to his usual and well known theme of legal thrillers as it is more about the 1950s farming communities and what happens when things go right and wrong. 

In this story, we follow Luke Chandler (aged 7) who lives with his family on their farm in Arkansas.  It is coming up to farming season and we see how they prepare for this which includes a new season of new people being employed to come in and harvest for them (and earn money for them as well).

This is a more laid back relaxed style of story that should be enjoyed for the journey the author takes you on and watching each of the characters interact with each other.   But don't let this laid style fool you, there are aspects of dark secrets and even murder...