Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

To Kill A Mockingbird

To Kill A Mockingbird: Harper Lee, July 11—20, 2015
My rating: ♦♦♦♦♦
  For years, To Kill A Mockingbird has been considered a classic. Such reverent hype is rarely justified, but in this case it may well be so. Even on my third reading (following 2004 and 2012), it doesn’t lose interest or charm. 

Set in the fictional 1930s Deep South county of Maycomb is a village where everybody knows everybody and, spanning three years, we hear the account of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch. 

Mockingbird is so densely packed with themes and foreshadowing that it is difficult to succinctly and accurately summarise what it is about. It is, of course, best known for its most dramatic scenes; the final act in which Scout’s lawyer father Atticus defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white girl. That he would betray his people for the good of a Negro scandalises the town, which dumbfounds his young children. 

However this is not a legal thriller and the Tom Robinson case is only part of a longer story. At its heart, it’s a coming-of-age piece through the eyes of a girl from her sixth to eighth years in a time and place where so much of race, gender and class expectations sit uneasily in her mind. Through the innocence of the child we see the world adults have created. 

It’s unclear when Scout wrote the book, as it were, because Lee’s wonderful narration blends the contemporary childlike voice of Scout with an older, more insightful version of her. 

Her exploration of life comes by playing with her brother Jem and their neighbour Dill, encountering many neighbours along the way. The most notable is Boo Radley, a source of morbid fascination to the children due to his reclusiveness and urban myths about his background. The significance of their changing perception of him in absentia is a study all of its own. 

Besides the enchanting trio of friends, Atticus makes Mockingbird what it is. Lawyers will say he is a model of their profession but in reality he is a model of a man. He’s imperfect, vitally, and that emotional detachment makes him less intimidating to the reader, but his understanding of humanity and endless compassion is inspiring. Nobody can read this book and fail to want to be more like Atticus. 

In this one book, we spend years in a place that feels not only real, but like home. We join a family and society and face the darkest, ugliest places in human nature in a funny and optimistic way. It’s a book that can be unpacked and studied for its richness, or enjoyed for its sheer brilliance.

Mockingbird has never been out of print in more than 50 years. It won’t be any time soon. 

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One comment on “To Kill A Mockingbird

  1. Pingback: Go Set A Watchman | Simon's Bookcase

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This entry was posted on July 20, 2015 by in 5 star and tagged .

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@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare