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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
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To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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 Chosen for September by Karen of Cornflower Books.

 

It is fifty years since To Kill a Mockingbird was first published, and to celebrate that anniversary I recently re-read it. It had been a treasured favourite but I hadn't looked at it for some time - could it possibly be as good as I recalled? The answer was yes, it is every bit as wonderful as I remembered: funny, poignant, serious, wise, straightforward, incredibly moving. If you haven't read it, I'd urge you to do so, and if you haven't read it for years, then re-visit it soon.

     Set in Alabama in the 1930s, the story is told by young Scout Finch, surely one of the finest narrative voices in literature. She lives with her older brother Jem and their lawyer father Atticus in the small town of Maycomb where things are mostly quite sleepy, and together with their friend Dill (said to be based on the author's childhood friend Truman Capote) they get into scrapes, some of which revolve around their mysterious, reclusive neighbour Boo Radley, a man they've never seen but one who is the subject of much local gossip and legend. Life in Maycomb goes on just so until a black man, Tom Robinson, is accused of raping a white woman, and Atticus undertakes Tom's defence.

     In a predominantly closed-minded, inherently racist society where class divisions create a strict hierarchy, Atticus' advocacy is, for many, a shocking thing and a deeply divisive act which will put his whole family in danger. He's a courageous man, right-thinking, wise and commanding deserved respect. He's a fine father, too, a model of tolerance, dignity and measured response. Never would Atticus refuse a case such as Tom's, and as his children watch him at work so they come to understand why he has taken on a seemingly impossible task.

    This book - which presents a big issue on a very small stage - does so more powerfully than any politician or campaigner could do. It's no wonder that when asked why she had published nothing else, Harper Lee stated that in this one work she had said all she had to say. She could not have said it more eloquently.

You can read more reviews at http://www.cornflowerbooks.co.uk

 

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Product Code: TOK23
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