A while back a friend sent me an ‘what is wrong with people’ email that linked to a bunch of reviews of classic novels online where people labelled some of the most famous books in the English language as ‘stupid’, ‘dumb’ and ‘boring’. Today I’m willing to stand up and admit that I don’t judge harshly people who find classic literature dull… because I frequently agree.
It’s one of the reasons I stopped reading classics. To Kill a Mockingbird might just be the book to have restored my interest!
I can’t remember what exactly got me to finally – after a lifetime of hearing about it – watch the movie of To Kill a Mockingbird. Think it was something to do with a screen writing book. Anyway, the experience was an odd one because, while I’d always known it was about racism and a valiant lawyer, I quickly realised that was about all I knew about the story.
This led me to buying the book (well, that and it had a lovely cover) a few months back, and after a bit of stop-start I’ve read it through properly start to finish.
It’s just fascinating.
Yes it’s about racism. Yes it’s about a valiant lawyer. But it’s also about social expectation, moving from childhood into adolescence, the hypocrisy of mobs and a whole lot more. For such a little book it has a hell of a lot going on in it.
In a way I felt like it was actually about life; that life was its theme. The little lives of individuals and the bigger life of society. Gossips, the games of children, houses burning down, religion, family pride, social change, education and a kind of evil are all in this book.
Stylistically what interested me was the way it moves from showing the scene to the narrator reporting conversation or events in summary, which is so reminiscent of Austen novels. The use of the narrator, now grown up, narrating through their child-self’s eyes is interesting too for the way things the child didn’t understand are laid out for an adult reader’s appreciation.
And what a cast of characters.
If you’ve never read it, I highly recommend you do, because ignoring anything else it’s an engaging yarn.