John Grisham woke up at 5:00 every morning for three years to complete his first novel, A TIME TO KILL. Working as a lawyer and a member of Mississippi's state legislature, Grisham published his debut thriller with a small and somewhat unknown publisher, receiving only local readership in his home state. He finally burst on to the national scene with his second novel, THE FIRM, a legal thriller that sold millions of copies and stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for 47 weeks. Shortly afterward, Grisham moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where he began working on a series of new legal thrillers, including THE PELICAN BRIEF and THE CLIENT, all of which became bestsellers and were subsequently made into successful films. Having graduated from the University of Mississippi in Oxford with a law degree in 1981, Grisham went on to base his popular thrillers on his experience as a specialist in criminal defense. His once-unknown debut, A TIME TO KILL, was made into a major motion picture in 1996.
"Luke Chandler is a sympathetic character. He inhabits a flimsy plot but gains our sympathy. If John Grisham is lighting out for new territory, this isn't a bad start."
"Grisham tells his story at a languid pace but, like the good suspense writer that he is, keeps subtly building the tension. His portrayal of a young boy's harsh coming of age is sensitively done.... His transition out of the suspense genre is seamless and a pleasant surprise."
"Grisham has created a charmingly old-fashioned world..."
"This is the kind of book you read slowly because you don't want it to end."
"[A]n absorbing, quietly impressive read."
"The new Grisham could not be more different from his row of thrillers. There's not a lawyer in the book. No glitz. No Gatsby-style cars. Instead there is a heroic story, told about people who mostly live well below the poverty line.... It is all so real that I have to keep reminding myself that I have never been in Arkansas..."
"Unlike his 11 previous books, which Mr. Grisham says were designed to keep the reader flipping pages, this is a leisurely tale, offering an affectionate portrait of a lost era."
"[W]hat A PAINTED HOUSE resembles most strongly is what Grisham apparently wanted it not to be, a thriller."
"Once again, Grisham has given us memorable characters and woven this fast-moving novel with the skill readers have come to expect. But by mining deeper into his own past and conscience, he's written a book that seems more personal, emotional and realistic in an artistic sense than previous work. This may be Grisham's best writing to date."
"Far from tapping into anything real, the author seems intent on delivering an upright and safely predictable past in which his readers can take comfort."
From the Publisher
It's harvest time at the Chandler family farm in Arkansas, and there are two groups of workers on hand to help pick the burgeoning cotton crop. There are the Spruills, a large family from the Ozark mountains; and there is also a group of migrant workers from Mexico. When beautiful young Tally Spruill becomes romantically involved with Cowboy, a dashing Mexican, tensions begin to build. The flames are fanned by Hank Spruill, an adolescent boy who is perfectly capable of beating a man to death with his bare hands. The story is told from the point of view of 7-year-old Luke Chandler, and is based on Grisham's own recollections of his boyhood. More than just the story of mounting tension between the Spruills and the Mexican migrants, it is also a meditation on childhood in a bygone rural America.
The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day.