W hen a reclusive Mississippi timber tycoon hangs himself from a sycamore on the edge of his estate, his handwritten will leaves the bulk of his fortune not to his two adult children, but to his black housekeeper. Seth Hubbard loathed lawyers. Hubbard sent his will to Brigance, instructing him to defend it "to the bitter end". He knew it would scandalise a community which, even in , when Sycamore Row is set, could not abide the idea of a black woman inheriting — hell, just having — so much money. What, wonder the gossips, must Lettie Lang really have done for Hubbard to deserve such a gift?
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W hen a reclusive Mississippi timber tycoon hangs himself from a sycamore on the edge of his estate, his handwritten will leaves the bulk of his fortune not to his two adult children, but to his black housekeeper. Seth Hubbard loathed lawyers. Hubbard sent his will to Brigance, instructing him to defend it "to the bitter end". He knew it would scandalise a community which, even in , when Sycamore Row is set, could not abide the idea of a black woman inheriting — hell, just having — so much money.
What, wonder the gossips, must Lettie Lang really have done for Hubbard to deserve such a gift? Its existence raises questions about Hubbard's "testamentary capacity" in his final months — was he out of it on Demerol? Hubbard was such an enigma that inferring any kind of motive is tricky.
But before he can represent the estate in what promises to be a gladiatorial trial by jury, Brigance must decode him, and fast. If the division-of-estate plot lends Sycamore Row Shakespearean gravitas Lang becomes Hubbard's proxy third child — a Cordelia who loves according to her bond and yet is rewarded , then the multiple-will twist is self-consciously Dickensian.
As one character observes: "Ethics are determined by what they catch you doing. Grisham's decision to revive Brigance after almost 25 years and write what amounts to a historical novel is intriguing.
He has produced a solid courtroom thriller with plenty to say about the long half-life of prejudice in the deep south. Segregation, too: when Brigance invites Lang's year-old daughter, Portia, home to dinner, he realises she is the first black person ever to have eaten in his house. Coming so close on the heels of last year's The Racketeer , however, Sycamore Row can't help but disappoint. That novel, about a small-town lawyer jailed for accidentally laundering money, was a blast — as devious and unpredictable as its sociopathic antihero narrator.
Sycamore Row 's main problem is Jake Brigance, an authorial projection Grisham can't bring himself to make flawed. He is Noble White Liberal 1. The much-trailed conclusion is powerful, even if I did keep wondering how Spielberg would film it. Topics Thrillers. John Grisham Fiction reviews. Reuse this content.
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A Time to Die
My father practiced law in Mt. Vernon, N. I used to sit in his windows and shoot rubber bands onto the tops of the cars of the southbound New Haven rattling by. It took some skill. Vernon boy who watched his town get blacker and poorer and allowed many clients to pay what they could afford.
John Grisham takes you back to where it all began. Now we return to that famous courthouse in Clanton as Jake Brigance once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial—a trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County to confront its tortured history. Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will.
More Vexing Challenges for That Mississippi Lawyer
Sycamore Row is a novel by John Grisham. It is a direct sequel to his first novel , A Time to Kill , and again features Jake Brigance as the main character. It was released on October 22, The title refers to a row of sycamore trees in the countryside near the fictional town of Clanton, in fictional Ford County, Mississippi. The trees play an important role in the book's plot, though the full significance becomes clear only in the end of the novel. It is suggested that these sycamores are very old, having been planted by Native Americans prior to the arrival of European settlers and their African slaves in what would become the state of Mississippi.
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