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   A Painted House

A Painted House
by John Grisham

Category: Fiction / General
388 pages; ISBN: 0712670394

Rating: 8/10  (Ratings explained)
Reviewer: Luke Croll


After Grisham's amazing success with legal thrillers, he has turned his hand to something very different and has produced a story allegedly based on his childhood. This has been published before in an American magazine, but it is the first time it has appeared in book form.

It stars seven-year-old Luke Chandler, a farm boy working in the cotton fields with his parents. For six weeks, they are all picking the cotton and as the weeks pass, Luke sees and hears things that not only threaten the crops, but also will change the family's life forever.

When I first heard about Grisham's new project, I was somewhat dubious, as I doubted that he could break out of his legal thriller mould. However, I am pleased to say that I was totally wrong. 'A Painted House' is very different, but is well written and a greatly interesting novel.

Luke, the principal character, is made to seem human and has his weaknesses as well as his strength. I would say that Grisham seems to give him strengths that are beyond his years, and the language he uses is not always the language of a seven-year-old boy, but overall, he creates a convincing portrait of a character that may well be modelled on the author himself.

The plot with its tangents and developments is interesting and for me, Grisham brought rural Arkansas alive and I could easily visualize the eponymous house. Grisham has written another successful novel, but I fear that many of his usual fans will not be fans of this work, as it is not linked at all with the legal thriller genre. However, for fans of general fiction, this is a well-written and interesting novel and it proves that the author can write books other than courtroom dramas.


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