Monday, January 13, 2014
Review: Sycamore Row by John Grisham
Initially I wasn't going to write a review for this forgettable novel but surprisingly I couldn't forget it. No, Sycamore Row is not a great followup to A Time to KIll. It doesn't even compare to Grisham's The Chamber. Neither does it compare to the one that Tom Cruise starred in. I can't remember the name at this time... but we all know which one I'm talking about. I'm pretty much a die-hard Grisham fan so I will not filter this review. He can afford to get one semi-rant-hateful-disjointed review. So... here we go!
Seth Hubbard is dying of cancer and can't take it any longer so he decides it's high time for him to commit suicide. Before he commits suicide he writes a handwritten will that names his black maid as the beneficiary of 90% of his estate What an estate it is. She is to inherit over 20 million dollars from a mysterious man that entices people to question his sanity or motivation. Before long his maid and his blood children find themselves in a legal brawl that will determine who gets the wealth that will change all of their lives.
So? What did I like about this novel? Not much besides the fact that it reads with the ease that accompanies all Grisham novels. Although I was generally bored with all the repetition I was still enthralled and ready to see to it to the end. I just HAD to know who won the settlement. It wasn't so much that I liked any of the characters. Seth Hubbard's children are vile people who cared nothing about their father until they pictured dollar signs upon his death. I wanted to reach through the pages and wring all their necks. Let's not mention the lawyers. They all see dollars signs and don't care who bares the burden of their court fees. As long as they recoup their losses and make a million + on the verdict, the rest didn't really matter. On to the housekeeper Lettie.
Lettie had/has the potential to be a great character that is a beacon of light in the sea of vultures. The problem with the housekeeper is that she wasn't developed enough to surpass being a caricature. Sure, she's the lowly housemaid that was subjected to taking care of a man who was on his way out. Then she was subjected to a small towns' speculation. She was assumed to be his lover, his manipulator, and his puppet-master. A woman who deserved none of these titles yet withstood the ridicule of of so much... crap. I wish I could feel anything for her but I didn't. An orphan that garnered no sympathy from me is a miracle.
I guess I'm done with my rant until I remember what made me dislike this novel. Let's focus on what I liked about this sequel to A Time to Kill. This novel picks up 3 years after the verdict that set Carl Lee Hailey free against all odds. Jake Brigance is living off of that former glory thinking that it matters. His house is left in ashes yet the insurance company doesn't care one ounce about that. He was paid $900 for a not guilty verdict yet is living in a rented home with his wife and young daughter. The Seth Hubbard estate is the only thing that keeps him afloat in these trying times. Surprisingly, he almost falls victim to being clouded by the color green. Honestly, Jake Brigance let me down.
I have to stop ranting and say what I couldn't shake about this novel. Initially my main interest was centered around who would get the pot of gold. I stuck around all 400+ pages to see who would win the verdict. I suffered through repetition, boredom, and no suspense at all to see who would get the money. Would it be the crappy offspring or the maid? This is what makes Grisham novels addictive. He paints the courtroom portrait like none other. In the midst of a boring novel he plops down a scene in the courtroom that pulls me in once more. I swear that I could picture Matthew McConaughey pacing around and addressing the court like he owns the place. I liked this novel because it made me pace with apprehension. Would my family members be ok? My grandfather died a little more than a year ago with his wishes obvious and concrete. His two sons weren't fighting over the house. His four daughters weren't counting the money and wondering when their windfall would provide them with a life of relative luxury. This made me consider whether or not at the ripe ol' age of 29, if I have my affairs in order.
I'm sorry that this review of Sycamore Row was disjointed and full of incoherent rants but I just had to unload. I raced to finish this title before my digital loan copy was expired. Besides the vile characters and the constant repetition, I enjoyed this title. No it doesn't compare to The Testament, A Painted House, or The Pelican Brief, it still has a relevant message. Have your affairs in order. Yes, it's honorable to pay for the sins of the past. I think I'll stop my rant now. I'll still be waiting for John Grisham's next blockbuster. ***