The Timely & Timeless Book Club met on May 24th to discuss John Grisham’s 2014 novel, Sycamore Row. This book was well liked by our members, rating it at 4.6 out of 5. This sequel to Mr. Grisham’s A Time to Kill brought back Jake Brigance, who in the first novel defended Carl Lee Bailey, a black man, who was accused of murdering two young white men acquitted of raping and leaving for dead Carl Lee’s young daughter. The same small town setting of Clanton, Mississippi was again the center for most of the action in this new work. Many of us at this meeting commented that we had seen the movie, “A Time to Kill,” and heard Matthew McConaughy’s voice in Jake’s words as we read.
When Seth Hubbard, a wealthy curmudgeonly old white man, commits suicide by hanging himself and Mr. Hubbard’s new holographic will is delivered to Jake Brigance’s office on Monday, the day after the deed, a firestorm erupts regarding the contents of the new will. Jake is named by Seth to defend the new will. Seth’s two children and grandchildren are prepared to legally challenge the new will, which completely cuts them out of the substantial inheritance provided for in the previous will. The most controversial aspect of the new will is that the bulk of Seth’s wealth is to go to his maid, Lettie, a black woman. Also in the new will, Seth’s church and Seth’s long lost brother are to share the remainder. Seth leaves detailed instructions attending to the details of his funeral and for Jake in the role Jake is to have in the matter of the new will.
In “Grisham-esque” fashion there are lots of characters and lots of plot thickening moments. Jake is set to defend this new will in Judge Atlee’s courtroom. The idiosyncrasies of a small southern town and the liberties taken with the law color the story. All of the characters have a role to play even if they don’t actually have a voice in the outcome of the litigation. Old story lines from the first novel reappear to add more layers and complications.
I always feel that a book is a winner when I am reluctant to reach the end. This one had me dragging out the experience, withholding page turning until the end. Grisham fans will not be disappointed. This is terrific summer reading.
For June, we are reading Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup. We will meet at Brew’Ha at noon on June 28th.
This unforgettable memoir was the basis for the Academy Award-winning film 12 Years a Slave. This is the true story of Solomon Northup, who was born and raised as a freeman in New York. He lived the American dream, with a house and a loving family - a wife and two kids. Then one day he was drugged, kidnapped, and sold into slavery in the deep south. These are the true accounts of his twelve hard years as a slave - many believe this memoir is even more graphic and disturbing than the film. His extraordinary journey proves the resiliency of hope and the human spirit despite the most grueling and formidable of circumstances.