'Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit 'em, but remember it's a sin to kill a mockingbird.'
A lawyer's advice to his children as he defends the real mockingbird of Harper Lee's classic novel - a black man charged with the rape of a white girl. Through the young eyes of Scout and Jem Finch, Harper Lee explores with exuberant humour the irrationality of adult attitudes to race and class in the Deep South of the '30s. The conscience of a town steeped in prejudice, violence, and hypocrisy is pricked by the stamina of one man's struggle for justice. But the weight of history will tolerate only so much.
To Kill a Mockingbird is a coming-of-age story, an antiracist novel, a historical drama of the Great Depression and a sublime example of the Southern writing tradition. Out now as an unabridged audiobook, narrated by Sissy Spacek.
©1960 Harper Lee (P)2014 Random House Audiobooks
A man with a child in his ears
I think every avid reader has one particular book, or maybe even a few if they are lucky which leave an indelible mark on them. I’m talking about the books which don’t simply excite or entertain but they leave you changed in some way. Whether it is through sheer exuberance for the story or because the book carried a message that resonated with us. Either way they never leave us and I doubt it’s unusual that they are often books read during our formative years.
There are, I’m afraid, no prizes for guessing that in my case it was To Kill a Mockingbird. Read during my school years growing up in a multicultural town the central messages behind Harper Lee’s story are not revolutionary, they aren’t massively clever but they go to the core of my struggles while growing up. I am certainly not going to preach about what they are but they have been enshrined in my psyche ever since and some key phrases have often anchored me in times of difficulty. Yes, Mockingbird, was *my* book and spoke to me like few others have before or since.
What struck me as I listened to this audio version 35 years later is that those messages are as relevant and important today as they were in my youth and as they were in the time the book was set. Told through the eyes of innocence, and with no little gentle humour this is actually still not an easy book. It’s no pleasantry and it challenges the reader on the fundamental levels of humanity. I’ve often seen the book described primarily as anti-racist and while that is undoubtedly a strong theme it’s about more than that. It tackles all manner of prejudice and the kind of underlying hypocrisy that still flows through much of human society today.
Of course such a book requires a skilled and appropriate narrator. Not knowing too much about her I wouldn’t have had Sissy Spacek on my shortlist but she captures the atmosphere of the American deep South and its languid nature perfectly. She seems to empathise with the innocence and at times exuberance of the key, younger characters. In summary she does a genuinely fine job as a narrator bringing the book to life for our ears. A bad narrator would have been a crime but fortunately she passes with flying colours.
In all, a challenging book now over half a century old brought to life for our listening pleasure and consideration. This is a genuine treasure, spend it wisely.
The book and characters are bought to life in this audible edition.
In some ways it is like the book Help with the southern attitude to the African Americans.
This is the only book that I have listened to by Sissy and the fact that she was reading the book encouraged me to buy it. I was not let down by her performance
I listened to most of the book and then watched the DVD with Gregory Peck and then re stared the book to catch anything I had missed
A remarkable book considering it is the only book Harper Lee wrote
This is the best audiobook I have listened to so far. The narration is impeccable, the story is brought alive in such a way that it is impossible to believe that we are not listening to Scout herself.
The story in itself is, of course, a classic which made me nervous about listening - sometimes it is difficult for a story to live up to its massive reputation, but I was not disappointed. The cleverness of making a complicated, messy theme simple through the eyes of the child had me spellbound for the entire length of the recording.
I couldn't put it down. I walked everywhere with my kindle trailing alongside catching headphones on anything awkwardly placed.
Although I have placed this book number two in my top ten having read the book twice I would place the audio book a little further down the list because although I did enjoy the narration (4 stars) productions of other audio books I would have rated 5 stars
childhood suspicions, adult prejudices,causing the final revealing of boo Radley
Time moves on predjuces does not
Probably not, maybe try and find a different narrator.
Just didn't enjoy the narration sadly, myself and my wife found she just didn't hold our attention. I read the book years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it, but didn't really enjoy the audio book as a result of the narration.
Great story, great narration, great book. if i jad ome gripe, its that a fair bit felt left un-said, and the ending felt a little uneventful and sudden conapred to what it felt like it was building up to, but thats being over critical as it wasnt so bad. Not even worth taking a star off! Possibly my new favourite novel.
This is a brilliant, brilliant story; a moral fable told through the eyes of Scout Finch, and her warmth and immediacy and powerful sense of right and wrong, a sense with which she has been imbued by her father Atticus, is the pivot on which an everyday story of Southern bigotry balances. And the effort to understand and value almost all the bigots is one of the key graces of the book.
Sissy Spacek animates Scout and the other characters, particularly Dill, beautifully. She seems less assured dealing with the long narrative sequences told by Scout as an adult, but they are less well suited to dramatic presentation than the dialogue. Ms. Spacek is Texan, which may mean that her Alabaman accent was off, but I wouldn't know. It sounded fine to me.
Audio books have been an incredible discovery
A wonderful performance by Spacek, she brings the words to life with an inflection that both authoritative and warmly personal
Each character is truly memorable and you love them all...except for those you really hate; just as it should be.
Her natural style fits perfectly with the first person narrative, her accent is the accent that I have always heard seeping off the pages
If you could you would
This reading lived up to all expectations a classic rendering of a great 20th century classic.
Love all sorts of books, Eng Lit degree, but not just classics - SciFi, modern... just like good writing!
I am not sure how I had managed to live so long and not read this classic book but if like me you come to this fresh then this is a fantastic introduction to this landmark book. If you love the book, then you are in safe hands.
Sissy Spacek's narration is wonderful, beguiling and seemed perfect. the soft, southern accents perfectly recalling the thoughts and viewpoint of a young girl.
The characters are also beguiling - Aticus Finch must be everyone's ideal father, and the children, Jim, Scout and Dill, are realistic and yet charming. The story is both domestic and intense and also global and significant. As a reader/listener, one certainly has to challenge one's prejudices and views.
A must listen.
"I waited too long to listen to this book"
Wonderful story and expertly read by Sissy Spacek. Sissy breathes true life into the characters in her reading.
Nothing I have read can compare to this story in this genre, outstanding.
Sissy Spacek read the novel with such a confident grasp of the narrator that it's hard to believe she is not speaking directly to you.
Don't listen to this story whilst grocery shopping, or if you do, head to the produce section and pretend the onions are getting to you and not the emotions of the story.
Why did I wait so long to hear this story, don't make my mistake. It was a great listen and a masterfully told story, five stars all round.
"The best audiobook you'll buy"
Yes, it's hard to describe except to say that I don't think I've ever enjoyed a book as much and I read a lot!
Sissy Spacek was the perfect narrator.
Buy it now!
the narrator did an amazing job. The author is simply genius to be able to take such a heavy subject and deliver it from a child's perspective.. kudos.. im so glad i completed the book till the end..
"Sissy brings the words to life"
This classic book with its beautiful prose and profound subject matter is one that you just can't stop reading. Sissy Spacek is perfect as the narrator and provides the nuances required to deliver this book as it was imagined. I will listen to this again to hear the prose and her voice again
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"Excellent sorry brilliantly told "
Loved it. Really enjoyed the story and the narration brought it to live. Couldn't recommend more strongly
"How had I not read this yet?"
Such a warm and inspiring story about the goodness and innocence in children, as well as some of the adults
"Wonderful story! brilliant narration!"
What a thrilling narration. Sissy Spacek totally brings this book to life and takes me back in time. The accents are so good, and the performance so subtle and winsome. I highly reccomend this audio book
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