Friday, March 16, 2007

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee

16 March 2007

'To Kill a Mockingbird' by Harper Lee always seems to rank highly in polls of essential books to read but I had never quite got around to it. I hadn't even seen the film and only had a rather vague idea of what it was about. Having now read it I'm glad I came to it with few preconceptions so I won't say much about the plot to allow you to do the same if you're not familiar with it. It is a great book - thoughtful, moving and very cleverly plotted. As it is narrated by a nine-year-old girl the naïve switches of attention in the plot seem quite natural but wrong-foot you several times to create very satisfying resolutions. I was certainly expecting a courtroom scene well before page 179 but leaving it so late means you feel you really know the protagonists and can read so much more into their actions in court. It reminded me a lot of one of my favourite American novels of recent years, 'The Little Friend' by Donna Tartt - or rather I realised how much of a homage to 'To Kill a Mockingbird' Tartt's book is. The contrast between the condemnation of anti-semitism in Europe and the casual racism towards the local black community also reminded me of Philip Roth's 'The Plot Against America'. And the sympathetic depiction of a whole small-town community made me think of 'Cannery Row' by John Steinbeck. 'To Kill a Mockingbird' won the Pulitzer prize in 1961 and still feels like a true classic.



Post a Comment

<< Home