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May 29, 2013

The Painted House

Book Review

Title: The Painted House
Author: John Grisham

A novel by John Grisham! I expected suspense, drama and legal thrills. The Painted House offers none of these. So what does the book give us? The story of the Chandler family living in their unpainted house, as they struggle to make a better life for themselves. Grisham describes, in his brilliant style, rural America in the 'fifties - a realistic portrayal. Through the eyes of  seven-year-old Luke Chandler, we experience the plight of small cotton farmers and the grinding poverty of sharecroppers.

There are brutal murders involving hired cotton-pickers from the hills and migrant labour from Mexico. The Korean war touches the plot on the periphery. Floods, rain, elopement and childbirth are among the events that affect the community and shape their destinies, as young Luke learns the harsh realities of life in the South. By the way, the house does get painted in the end.

When I turned the last page and put down the book, I felt that I had a vivid picture of all that happened in the Chandler household. Moreover, the book showed me a slice of rural America hitherto unfamiliar to me. But I was glad to be where I am  - and not on a bleak cotton farm in Arkansas! 


Marianne de Nazareth said...

A very different Grisham that we are used to, but gripping all the same.

Luke seemed more like a 12 year old to me.His reactions were too mature for a baby seven.

Birdy said...

I need to read the book to comment more, but I think Rhoda's review will now make me read it... :)

Chaitra said...

The symbolism of paint as little bit of progress impressed me as well.

Nice review Rhoda! Looking forward to reading your travel and food sections as well :)


Rhoda said...

Marianne, it will be interesting to know the reactions of more readers. Our discussions will be much more lively!

Rhoda said...

Chaitra, thanks :)

I've been procrastinating too long on my Travel & Food pages. I hope your interest will egg me on to get these blogs going...

Dr. Ashok Kallarakkal said...

As I had told Marianne earlier, I am not convinced that the cowboy's motive for the murder was presented well in the book. I also felt, the book came to an abrupt end with a few ends not tied well.

Anyway, the book reminded me more of Steinbeck and Maugham than Grisham.

Rhoda said...


I too was reminded of Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath. Although it is more about the family migration from Oklahoma after leaving behind their unprofitable farm, both the novels are similar.

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