To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
309 pages long.
GOB RATING: 7.6
A long time ago, when I was young I can remember seeing the film To Kill A Mockingbird on TV. I cannot remember it at all clearly now, but after reading the book I dearly wish to. My only sin in reading this book was not being able to picture Atticus Finch as anyone other than Gregory Peck. Even his voice was Gregory's in my head. Luckily I cannot remember any of the other characters from the film at the time of writing this review.
Descended from Robert E. Lee, the Southern Civil War general, Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama. Harper was 34 when To Kill A Mockingbird was published and it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1961. In 1962 it was made into a film.
The book is all character, everything is empathic, solid and true. You can sense it is right. I really enjoyed reading this book. It is not the most 'un-put-a-down' book I have ever read but it does not let you forget it for long.
It is the tale of two children, their father, their friends, home, growth, fears, prejudices and short-comings. It is the tale told from the view-point of a six year old girl, Scout (Jean Louise Finch). She tells us her story almost like a regression patient, a memory suddenly filled with detail and clarity. Her views are that of a child but her explanation is in the form of her adult language. Scout tells us the tale of her changing relationship with her best friend and brother Jem (Jeremy Atticus Finch ), how they slowly become immersed in the inevitable social placings that young men and ladies were put into in the thirties and how brother and sister can drift apart and return through growing up. Her story is also about prejudice and people's ability to ignore what they feel is right and do what they feel they should do instead. It is a story of her father (Atticus Finch) and their Negro maid, Calpurnia. These two people link the worlds of white and black that are such an issue in Maycomb, Alabama in 1935. It is also about Boo Radley, a recluse, who the townsfolk commonly believes is mad and haunts the town at night; and how this perception affects people and their actions.
Many think it is a book about a Negro being blamed for the rape of a white girl, and it is, but that is like saying that the bible is about a power that can control life, it misses the main point altogether.
I can now see why it was voted onto the BBC's Big Read. It is a tremendous book. Beautifully written and carefully composed. The observation of children's minds and character and how they change as they grow is phenomenal. Harper Lee is one brilliantly shrewd lady. Her insight into people's thoughts, faults and insecurities is incredible. See the adjectives I'm using to describe her work? It all adds up to one amazing tale. At times it is mysterious, at other, highly amusing, and in some parts, tense and dramatic. The characters are all believable. It can be at times a little confusing as to who is who but by the end of the book you have your nice people well sorted from the horrible people with the neutrals in the middle where they belong. The journey from start to finish is always in keeping with the book and always thrilling to read. I urge you to try this book, I'm sure you will not be disappointed.
Harper Lee never wrote another book and keeps herself private, rarely giving any sort of an interview. She has lived most of her life in Monroeville, Alabama.
Depth: 8, Readability:
8, Layout: 6,
GOB RATING: 7.6
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Last updated: 10th September 2003