A Painted House, by John Grisham

Not your standard John Grisham: this is the (semi-autobiographical?) story of a Luke, 7 year-old boy spending his 1952 summer picking cotton on his parents' farm. In order to gather the crop, the family has to hire help, and the new families that come to live temporarily on the farm bring problems and friendships.

Well, it was OK but not particularly brilliant. The story moved very slowly and painted a fairly believable picture of what life must have been like, with the grinding hard work and the ever-present fear of financial ruin. There were some dramatic episodes: a brawl in the town that ended in a killing, and a knife fight in the dark which Luke witnesses. Perhaps the most effecting part was the friendship Luke struck up with Tally, the 17 year-old daughter of one of the hill families that's come to pick cotton. While her motives for befriending Luke were a bit mixed, there seemed to be a genuine affection there, and Luke's feelings were described well - albeit a bit implausibly for someone so young.

I was reminded of "The Grapes of Wrath", and "To Kill a Mockingbird" - I wasn't overkeen on those either: perhaps it's just the setting which I am not too bothered about.

Completed : 31-Oct-2005 (audiobook)

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