• A Painted House: A Novel

  • By: John Grisham
  • Narrated by: David Lansbury
  • Length: 12 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (2,732 ratings)

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A Painted House: A Novel  By  cover art

A Painted House: A Novel

By: John Grisham
Narrated by: David Lansbury
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Publisher's Summary

Until that September of 1952, Luke Chandler had never kept a secret or told a single lie. But in the long, hot summer of his seventh year, two groups of migrant workers - and two very dangerous men - came through the Arkansas Delta to work the Chandler cotton farm. And suddenly mysteries are flooding Luke’s world. 

A brutal murder leaves the town seething in gossip and suspicion. A beautiful young woman ignites forbidden passions. A fatherless baby is born...and someone has begun furtively painting the bare clapboards of the Chandler farmhouse, slowly, painstakingly, bathing the run-down structure in gleaming white. And as young Luke watches the world around him, he unravels secrets that could shatter lives - and change his family and his town forever.... 

©2000, 2001 Belfry Holdings, Inc. (P)2001 Random House, Inc. Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing, a Division of Random House, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"The kind of book you read slowly because you don't want it to end." (Entertainment Weekly)

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What listeners say about A Painted House: A Novel

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,700
  • 4 Stars
    627
  • 3 Stars
    275
  • 2 Stars
    93
  • 1 Stars
    37
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,435
  • 4 Stars
    348
  • 3 Stars
    121
  • 2 Stars
    25
  • 1 Stars
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Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    1,315
  • 4 Stars
    383
  • 3 Stars
    172
  • 2 Stars
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  • 1 Stars
    19

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Departure and Yet Another Solid Story

This book caught me by surprise - I am I think like most people, in that I have a habit of classifying authors by the themes they write on, and of course this author made that very easy with his previous body of work, which as we all know is the result of his being a part of that profession... However I believe that it is fair to say that this book represents his break-out effort, as he has completely departed from the well-known and comfortable style of his other work and charted new territory here.

A Painted House will not disappoint. While it is not a part of what we have come to anticipate from the author, this book is not only an enjoyable tale in its own right, but the equal to and I honestly believe perhaps even better than what came before it. It establishes the author as an author in the literal sense, rather than a writer in a limited area.

This book is best read on a rainy day, preferably on your covered front porch or deck, with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee to keep you company. There is a lot of detail and emotional measure to it, and the perspective will, if you allow yourself to give the empathy that the narrative character deserves, leave you convinced that you've just put down a classic when you are done. I would have given this book six stars if they had let me.

44 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Bittersweet way of life of time past....

I listened to this book when it first came out & have recommended it to everyone. Tears came when it was over because I did not want the genre of rural times past to end. It is a book you will listen to over and over. It was a way of life once all over America that we all wish was still here. A time when children built a deeper character and became wiser to life in a way they will miss out in times present. Take everything good about the Waltons and add more maturity, mystery, intrigue, and suspense. What more could you ask for?

21 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Change of Pace for a talented writer.

Grisham is a brilliant writer of suspense and intrigue, however this offering is quite a change of pace for him. He seems to be in a reflective mode. Perhaps this is a story that he wanted to tell from the past. It's like reading "Little House on the Prairie". Why can't an author have several genres in his genes? Don't expect a courtroom drama or even a story about a lawyer. It's about small town life. However, the mindset of the narrator is a little much for a "seven" year old boy - maybe "twelve".
This is a great work no matter the author.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Promising premise - doleful denoument

Grisham has lately been diverging from the fare that made him famous and this work is a prime example of the problems he faces in so doing. While the narrative is interesting and, in places compelling, the characters are not as completely developed as in his courtroom dramas. While I found this an "interesting" read, I did not find it an "enjoyable" read. The narrative wanders a bit too much and I found myself drifting off and thinking about what I would fix for dinner! Recommended - but not highly so.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Captivating, humorous, sad, and insightful

Rarely does one find so many feelings conjured up in a story about life. Yet, this one is a monumental find. Through the eyes of a seven year old who sees far too much for a child his age, we are astounded at his ability to maintain his mental equilibrium. You will find yourself living with him, feeling as he does, as he discovers baseball, child birth, depravity, and humour in a setting of Arkansas farmland. Through it all, in spite of it all, he triumphs.

18 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

The audiobook narrator makes this better

than my own reading would be.

I am biased against 1st person point-of-view (thanks to the New Adult genre). But this book reminds me how great 1st person can be. And I can’t imagine this story done any other way. This is 1st person Luke. He is seven-years-old. He is always sneaking around and listening to things and seeing things he’s not supposed to. It was exciting. And then he’s got all these secrets. He doesn’t want to keep secrets but he has to. I enjoyed Luke’s thoughts and dialogue. His family is dirt poor but he’s happy. Luke finds joy in daydreams about baseball and getting a St. Louis Cardinals jacket. Luke feels lucky when he compares his life to sharecroppers who have no screens, no fan, and no electricity to listen to the baseball games on the radio. Their kids have no shoes.

I consider John Grisham the king of character development, and this book is full of it. Here’s an example: A poor family buys groceries on credit. Little boy signs the account book at the store for something he is buying. The store lady looks at it and says “Coming along.” She meant his handwriting was improving. I thought she was going to say something negative.

I smiled and enjoyed so many things during this book. At the end I cried, but it wasn’t a depressing cry. It was more about good things people do for others - or do for the principle of the thing. There was a very moving idea at the end – that no matter how dire your circumstances, someone else is worse off and would love to be in your shoes. I was also happy about Luke and his parents starting something new that was going to be good.

Some readers complained that some of the story lines were not finished at the end. I was ok with that. Sure I would have loved to keep going or have a sequel. But that was because the stories were good and I didn’t want to stop.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Luke’s family owns a cotton farm. The story begins in September as they hire a group of Mexicans and a family from the hills to help pick cotton. The Mexicans stay in the barn. The family camps in the yard. The story takes place over the next two months as these characters interact and pick cotton. They play baseball. Some local bullies fight. A carnival comes to town. There’s a mystery about a pregnant teen girl.

AUDIOBOOK NARRATOR:
David Lansbury’s young boy voice and emotional interpretations were fabulous.

Narrative mode: 1st person Luke.
Genre: fiction.

13 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Painted House

Wow! One of my favorite books. Nothing like his usual court and law books, and I LOVE John Grisham's court and law books. Just a great story of how things could have been. You can see it happening.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Engaging characters with little plot

I won't say I didn't enjoy this story, but if you are looking for plot twists and action moments (or a real page turner) then avoid this book. The characters aer fascinating and often reminded me of my own family in rural Arkansas. They are believable in a remarkably unbelievable way. No single, dramatic plot develops. Instead you get a life story with a few thrills that are told in a linear fashion with little, if any, suspense. Overall, a good listen or read, but it isn't as captivating as other Grisham works.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Easy Listening, I wanted the story to go on & on.

I have read &/or listened to every Gresham book and although this one was very different....it is very good and I look forward to more like this one. Seeing everything through the eyes of a seven year old was very interesting. I identified with the child because I remember the early 50's so well and was nearly the same age as he was in the story. I felt as though they were a family I actually knew. Sometimes listening to a story without having to keep track of so many twists and turns is a good thing. While listening I felt happy, sad, scared and hopeful who could ask for more.

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

A Nice Surprise

A new venue for Grisham and one that was done beautifully.
The story was fascinating and the characters real and well developed.
His writing ability shines forth in showing that he can write just about anything and make it worthwhile.

7 people found this helpful