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The Green Mile is probably one of my favorite Stephen King books by a mile. Made into a motion picture, the Green Mile is a classic which has achieved the highest level of recognition around the world. The movie is certainly on my top 10 list which must be saying something about the book.
The Green Mile is easy to get into but hard to put down. This is a tale which delves deep into the main characters life, Paul Edgecombe. He plays a Death Row supervisor on the corridor of prison cells nicknamed 'the green mile' due to the colour of the linoleum on the floor. It starts out very normally but eventually twists into a touchingly moving and dramatic supernatural filled story.
This novel is the creation of a genius who has a scary ability to drag you into a story and leave a mark on you. However he comes across his ideas for novel writing, he must have one of the most vivid imaginations. So many parts of this book is unexpected. We are faced with the reality of the prisoners that they are on Death Row and death can be the only outcome. King successfully highlights this issue impeccably with strong and emotional scenes within the book.
You cannot help but be touched by this story, it is a story to stand the test of time. It will upset, intrigue and enthrall you with the immensely powerful story telling and emotional text ingrained within it. If you haven't read the book, I won't give the story away. Life and death are major players in this book with a genius touch of comedy and heartfelt scenery spattered all over the place.
This is the best book to read if you are a King virgin, it will introduce you to Kings domain with ease. The Green Mile is literally a taster for the best yet to come, and there are better King books. Definitely watch the film before you die, you won't forget it.
It had been a while since I read this book, but when I read about the death of the actor who played John Coffey I decided to re read it. I suppose knowing the end does change the experience a bit but I still found it to be as well written and full of sensitivity as when I first read it.
It was written in 1996 and is another Stephen King novel set in a prison, but this time most of the story is centred around a man on death row. John Coffey has been convicted of the rape and murder of two young girls and is waiting for the time when he will be taken to the chair. When it was first written it was published as a serial and released in 6 different parts, but by the time I read it, it was just the one book.
Set in Cold Mountain Penitentiary, Paul Edgecombe tells the amazing story of John Coffey and the time he spends on death row - this is the part of the prison that gives the novel its name "The Green Mile." The lino is green and it is the last thing that the prisoners walk on as they are on their way to the chair. There are other prisoners on the block - Billy the Kid a trouble causing mass murder and Del Delacroix a rapist and murderer. There is also Arthur Flanders and Arlen Bitterbucks who are also both facing the death penalty for murder.
The tale is set in two time frames - the present day, or at least the present day when it was written as Paul tells the story and then in the 1930s when it happened.
The job of the guards is made harder by the presence of Percy Wetmore who winds up the prisoners but the others have to accept him as he is the nephew of the governor's wife. Paul is more sympathetic towards the prisoners and this is totally the case with John as he believes his version of events.
It is a really well worked story and as with all of Stephen Kings' books, there are no loose ends but still a little bit of a feeling that there could yet be a twist and something else will come out.
The paperback version is currently on sale on Amazon for £5.60 and there are 480 pages. While I was looking up the price I found out that it had been the winner of the Bram Stoker award for the best novel in 1997 but that it was for an out of print version so I am not sure whether there has been a rewrite or if a newer version has anything different.
It is in some parts a sad story but in others very uplifting and I thought that the uplifting part shines through very well. Yet another masterpiece from Stephen King and I imagine that I will read it again in the future.
The Green Mile - Stephen King
What attracted me to this book?
My recent discovery of this author and resonance with his style of writing inspired me to seek out another of his offerings. This one appealed once I had read the synopsis as the concept fascinated me and I felt a need to know what the outcome would be. When mentioning the title in conversation I had excitable responses from people who have seen the movie. My curiosity got the better of me and I am delighted that it did as King did not disappoint with this one.
Paul Edgecombe is the chief 'screw' on death row. Named The Green Mile by those who work in Cold Mountain penitentiary. Not a job that fills Paul with delight but one that he does to the best of his ability with compassion. Running a tight ship he faces a challenge when a young man, with connections in high places, joins the team - Percy Whetmore has a different approach to his role on The Green Mile and appears to gain satisfaction from causing suffering to all that he comes into contact with. Paul wants rid of him before something bad happens. New inmate - John Coffey - arrives in a calm and peaceful manner. A large coloured guy, as big as a bear, he could have easily caused chaos. Paul found himself feeling at ease with him and wondered why - he knew this man was different, something hypnotic about him intrigued him and he set about researching his case which involved two small twin girls deaths. The peaceful nature of this giant man did not match what Paul had become accustomed to seeing in men awaiting death on The Green Mile - or 'dead man walking' as newbie guard Percy revelled in shouting as he announced the arrival of John Coffey. There is doubt in Paul Edgecombes mind.....
Want to join me for a walk along the green mile?
Named The Green Mile because the flooring, that the prisoners walk from outside their cells to the small room that houses Old Sparky (the electric chair), is lined with green linoleum. King describes the environment on death row with just enough information for the reader to get a good idea of how it may look and feel to be a warder; and a prisoner, on The Green Mile. All of my senses were aroused by his occasional input - I felt happy with the amount of description as I like to stick with the story and not be bogged down with too much detail.
The prose does not begin within Cold Mountain penitentiary, I am first introduced to the Detterick family and get my bearings with concise description of the surrounding rural area that the family reside. All of the Detterick characters will remain two dimensional, though I did get some insight into the traits and dynamics of the household. I also got a chilling realisation of what it may feel like to wake up and discover that your twin daughters were gone. Set in 1930's America I witnessed the policing system which consisted of a wild west style set up of a main police guy and his deputy - the main guy slowing down and wanting a hassle free ride before retirement. King builds pace early on in the book as the search results in a tragic sight. A baffling sight. It is then that we meet John Coffey. His last name sounds like the drink but is spelt different - that is what he calmly tells the team that discovered him. I was really hooked with the story by now as King's introduction to John Coffey was such that I knew John was different and had my doubts about him murdering the two girls.
The majority of the prose features life on the mile and for this reason the main protagonist and his colleagues are developed the most - plus Mr Coffey and another small character that I will discuss in due course. Even so I felt like I knew enough about Paul Edgecombe's home life which included his wife Janice.
Paul is the main protagonist. I wondered how I would develop a liking for him as he was a head prison guard - top screw. Not someone I would normally find interesting. Not in this case. I liked Paul from the moment he makes an appearance in the prose. His distaste for the cruel treatment of John Coffey by new guard, Percy, appealed to me. I had something in common with Paul - I thought that the gentle giant of a man may be innocent. I felt sympathy and empathy for him. Paul was kind hearted and compassionate whilst also being tough when he had to be.
It is when a small character, with a big appeal, is introduced that Paul's gentle nature shines through. Mr Jingles is a mouse but not just any mouse. Like big John - the big guy - he appears to be special. He captivates all of the guards except for one. Percy is hell bent on executing the smart mouse named Mr Jingles and once again plays the bad guy. There are few prisoners on death row throughout the tale - some have done bad and will never do bad again, some are just bad through and through and continue to cause suffering whenever they get the chance - after all they can only send them to Old Sparky once. Even though there were real bad guys in those cells Percy managed to come top of the list for plain old nastiness. King presents him as a small built young man who has feminine features, I imagined that he must have had some bullying and that was the reason he relished his cruelty to others - even a mouse. On the other hand he had a vulnerability that King managed to get me to sympathise with momentarily until he was back to his horrible tricks.
A front story runs alongside and Paul resides at a residential home - his descriptions and sarcasm for the place are often amusing. It is here that he finally pens a manuscript about the terrible occurrence that led to him ending his time on the Green Mile. I enjoyed the occasional visits to 'older' Paul - many years older Paul - and found the similarities between an orderly named Brad Dolan and Percy Whetmore a treat. I was pleased, though, that King only concentrated fleetingly on this time period and then got on with the story - that's his philosophy and it was good to see that he stuck to it.
John's cell mate, Del, is a small French guy. He committed a terrible murder but Paul knew that he only had that one crime in him and it was like he never did it now. Del is the prisoner that Mr Jingles has been waiting for and never leaves his side. The pair of them were appealing when together. I felt quite sad - as did the guards (apart from Percy) - when the date of execution arrived for him and wondered what would become of his small companion Mr Jingles. I was surprised to become so concerned about that little mouse.
Throughout the prose I encountered all manner of human traits. Paul and his team of guards, who had become friends, where consistent with their professionalism whilst also displaying loyalty, tenacity and compassion. From Percy came offerings of hatred, confrontation, blackmail, betrayal and cruelty - yet there were more than a few glimpses of fear and childlike insecurities. From the courts and country policing system came discrimination and a lack of co operation. No appeals in that town, not for a coloured guy anyhow - I found that really sad.
The prose flowed well. I didn't find myself getting confused and there was no need for re reading sections. The characters were well rounded and had believable personalities. King had done his research and it was interesting to get a feel for The Green Mile - though grisly in the room that housed Old Sparky. It was realistic and descriptive without becoming gross and thankfully King did not linger too long on the executions - apart from one. This tale is imaginative and the air of hypnotic quality that surrounds the big guy, Coffey, is fascinating. I didn't find any of the book frightening but it was thought provoking.
I'll not tell you if my suspicions were correct about the innocence of John Coffey. You will enjoy finding that out for yourself and the journey is exhilarating with some unexpected happenings. All I will say is that the ending leaves everything neatly tied up and you won't be left guessing and frustrated.
Buy this one from ...
You can purchase for less on Amazon at the time of writing.
A captivating concept. Covering an interesting time in history and insight into the penitentiary system. Death row would not normally be my choice of reading material but this was no ordinary tale. King's imagination comes into it's own as he tells the story of a coloured giant of a man with unusual powers who is found guilty of the murder of twin girls. Doubt about his guilt is obvious early on in the book which allows the reader to sympathise with the convicted man who may go to the chair for someone else's crime. Did he do it? Evidence clearly suggests that he did. He doesn't seem like a man who would commit a crime of any sort let alone murder and rape. Paul Edgecombe sets about investigating and makes himself unpopular in the process - will it make any difference to a convicted coloured guy? Be prepared to be acquainted with a mouse named Mr Jingles - he'll tug at your heart strings. Pages turn quickly and the story is satisfying. Not over the top on description - you won't be bogged down.
Also published on Ciao
I cannot praise this book enough! I saw the film originally around 5-6 years ago. I was thoroughly impressed by the film and ranked it as one of my top 10 ever.
I read the book a couple of months ago and wasn't sure how it would compare to the movie. I got into the book immediately and couldn't put it down. I was very impressed by the style in which it was written, Kind uses brilliant description at all times meaning it is very easy to produce a picture in the readers head of the exact scenario.
I can't say reading many books I've had shivers down my spine but this happened several times throughout the book. The suspense was immense, something I'd not experience when reading a book before.
I couldn't fault the book, it is split into chapters in an unusual style ( the book has 6 parts as these were published in magazines originally and not as a single novel) but this in fact works very well and adds to the overall read.
If you haven't read this, please do.
To set the scene of this book - think 1980's yuppie culture that gripped the world and a young man named Patrick Bateman who thinks he is totally invinsible. A true psychopath who thinks far more about what tie to chose than murder. This is the story of his downhill spiral.
Now so saying that you might be thinking that this book will be a bit grim - not a bit of it - I laughed all the way through and the character of Patrick Bateman is extremely amusing in a Quentin Tarantino kind of way and I adored him. Patrick is very well drawn and I found that I got to know him very well within this novel. The shallowness of other characters just goes to emphasize Patrick's character. This will suit any reader with a strong stomach and a good sense of humour.
I was fortunate to take The Green Mile on holiday with me few years ago - it was a brilliant read and totally perfect for reading by the pool or on the beach.
A totally gripping plot with brilliant characters and a wonderful twist in the tale to boot!!
When having chats about books with friends and family - this book is always mentioned at some point.
Although the setting on death row may seem a tad grim, the writer manages to put a lot of light and laughs into this difficult topic. I would recommend it to everyone who enjoys a good story and although the book is long, it is a very eay read so please don't be put off by the size of it.
I do hope that you enjoy this book as much as I did - and I have read it 3 times since which shows how much!! lol
Also posted on Ciao
I must confess to being a bit late to the game with Stephen King's highly revered novel The Green Mile. Being far more of a film viewer than a reader, I watched the rather good (if overly melodramatic and FAR too long) film first, but it inspired me to give the novel a read, and as someone who really needs to read more King, this seemed like a great opportunity to.
The premise takes place over the latter part of 1932 in the death-row wing of an American prison. The novel revolves around a prison officer there, and his interactions not only with the prisoners themselves, but also the other officers, and their different agendas. At the novel's heart is a potent commentary against the death penalty, which is rather moving and haunting, and it ties in well with a remark about the racism of the time. I did enjoy King's penchant for naturalism here, so I was a tad disappointed when it introduced supernatural elements, such as when one inmate, John Coffey, has the ability to bring the dead back to life and heal sickness. Still, it meshes fairly well even if I didn't want it to be there, but the story would have been just as emotive without this addition.
What's also great is how soupy the morality is; there are no black-and-white good and bad characters, for the inmates are often sympathetic, and the wardens often abuse their positions. It gets at the depraved atmosphere of a prison while also having some gallows humour, and the characters are certainly well developed. It's a classically melodramatic story, but it's well executed, and though the supernatural elements are a bit strange, it works more than it doesn't.
The Green Mile is a great classic Stephen King Novel. Personally this is one of my favourites. The general story is about an abnormally large black man who is convicted and sent to death row or as the the book is headed and the guards call it "The Green Mile" for the rape and murder of two small girls in the 1930's.
Though, the story is not just centered on the above. It is actually several stories of all the characters, tied together to create the goings ons of what happens on the Green Mile and how each character is affected, on both sides of the prison cells bars.
The cetral character is Paul Edgecomb, a senior prison guard that has spent many years working the Green Mile. He has a variety of guards that work with him including personallaties that include, sympathy, violence and fear.
You would think that the story would be a simple murder/prison one at first. Until the story begins to reveal aspects of the convicted rapist/murderers character that don't add up to the crime he's accused of. Then the Stephen King genius element comes along and supernatural goings ons begin to become clear, making each chapter and developing character more and more interesting and suspenseful to read.
Along with all this you also get the side storys of cruelty from the people that should be trusted, and you get the feelings of sympathy toward the peole that in reality you should have none for. With a read of the book, that last bit makes perfect sense, and something to make you curious!
The Green Mile was one of Stephen King's "experiments", written and published in serial form, like one of the old Charles Dickens novels. It also represents one of his best books - certainly of his more recent output.
For those of you who have seen neither the film nor the book, here's the plot: a strange, giant of a black man is convicted of raping and murdering two children in 1930s America. Whilst awaiting his fate on Death Row, the guards on his prison block begin to realise that there is something very special about their latest prisoner.
The Green Mile is a superbly structured and well paced book. It is full of surprises and plot developments come thick and fast. The idea of publishing the novel in serial form really pays off and is not just a gimmick. It forces King to keep the pace up throughout the novel, building in regular cliff-hangers and tense and dramatic situations to keep you hooked. King really uses the format to maximum effect, building characters and plotlines to a crescendo before dropping a stunning revelation... and ending the part. It makes for very compulsive reading.
I only ever read the story in the collected edition, but I can well imagine the anxious wait for the next part to find out how the cliff-hanger is resolved. Surprisingly, the book works equally well as a complete novel or as a serial. The reader has the choice: either read it all in a chunk (which you'll almost certainly be tempted to do, given the dramatic nature of the book), or you can read it as it was originally intended and ration yourself to a new part every so often.
But it's not just about the dramatic tension. For all its subject matter, this is probably King's most human and emotional book to date. There are parts of it which are genuinely moving; parts which will make you think and parts of it will make you laugh out loud. It is, in fact, a microcosm of life. As you read the book, you will find all sorts of emotions racing through your mind: anger, sorrow, joy and misery. When you finally reach the end, you may find yourself emotionally drained - not something you would normally expect from a King book.
Much of the story is told in flashbacks and these are particularly well integrated. Too often flashbacks are introduced in a clumsy, stupid way - something along the lines of "he sat back and his thoughts drifted to those events 30 years ago". Here, King carefully integrates them into the whole narrative of the novel, making them an essential and natural part of the whole story. It's a surprisingly simple devise, but one which works incredibly well in the context of the book.
In terms of writing, King surpasses himself. He's always been strong when it comes to conveying horror, death and suffering, so it's no surprise when his imagination runs riot in this regard. What is more surprising is that he imbues the text with such colour and emotion. One or two more gruesome elements aside, this is probably King's most accessible book for non-horror fans, yet will still satisfy his army of long-standing readers. His style and language perfectly match the pacing of the plot and add to the compulsion to read on.
This, however, is one area where the first criticism of the book creeps in. The elderly narrator Paul Edgcombe, by his own admission, is no writer - just someone who is writing his memoirs before it is too late. Sometimes, King's prose is actually a little too polished, a little too perfect to capture this idea. Sentences are too well constructed and too ideas too well-formed to capture the idea of an "amateur" writing. It's perhaps ironic that an author who has been dogged throughout his career by accusations of "poor writing" from certain quarters is now being criticised for being a little too good!
The Green Mile is populated by interesting, human characters. For the most part, they are likeable and sympathetic. This makes it easy to understand their actions and motives and to identify with their hopes and fears, no matter how "unbelievable" the plot gets. In particular, the two main characters - prison officer (and narrator) Paul Edgcombe and convicted murderer John Coffey are both very well developed during the course of the book. Edgcombe especially becomes very familiar to us, as we hear his inner thoughts throughout his narration.
This is where the second and perhaps more severe criticism of the book comes: the characters are very black and white and rather stereotypical. There are only really two nasty people, everyone else is "nice"; even most of the convicted murderers. The Green Mile has no room for shades of grey and tired old clichés abound, giving a rather simplistic view of life and human nature in particular.
Some readers may find the overall tone of the book a little depressing and miserable. Yet, whilst there are plenty of instances of genuine sadness and grief, there are also some genuinely amusing or uplifting episodes to counter-balance this. This mix of emotions is what makes the book work so well and make it such a riveting read. At the end of the day, happy or sad, it's a damn good read.
If you've only seen the film it's definitely worth reading the book, which offers a much richer experience. Whilst the film is a very faithful adaptation, the book has more time to explore the central themes in more depth. The characters are better developed and more time can be devoted to some of the sub-plots. In particular, the book's ending is far more satisfying (at least to my mind) than the one in the film, adding an even greater emotional punch to an already strong story. It's a far greater reflection of real life and better suits the slightly sombre, wistful tone of the rest of the tale.
Surprisingly deep and moving, accessible to new and established readers alike, The Green Mile is one of King's best creations. Don't be put off by its considerable length, get out there and read it today!
The Green Mile
Gollancz, 2008 (most recent edition)
Various editions available from Amazon from used from 1p to new for about £8.
© Copyright SWSt 2009
This was originally published as a series of 6 short books. Another experiment from King, who was annoyed by people reading the last page first! I don't think it was very successful, and my local bookstore still has loads of copies of books 3-6 (but no sign of 1-3!)
It has since been published as a single volume. A welcome change!
The story takes place 'on the Green Mile' - death row. It centres around John Coffey, a man wrongly accused of murder - a man it turns out is quite the opposite of a murderer.
Aside from the typical Stephen King supernatural story (about an angel) this also gives a very moving account of a wrongly accused man - all the more moving because at that time, I am sure that many people were executed wrongly. This side story is in fact better than the main story.
A very good story, very moving, devastating even. A little different from his other works as the supernatural sees to at time take a back stage to the death-row story.
As anyone will know who knows me, I am a very faithful fan of one Mr Stephen King, author extraordinaire (my personal opinion of course!). The first book I ever read of his was Salem's Lot (which I will review in due course!) and ever since that day, many years ago, I have been hooked on his books and all of the film adaptations of those books.
The Green Mile is one book that I have read many times and my copy is getting very careworn and dog-eared looking but it still comes out on a regular basis and is read again and again. Because I am such a prolific reader, my family always know what to buy me for presents - just get me books or book vouchers and I am one happy bunny!
Paul "Boss" Edgecome is in a retirement home and whilst out on a walk one day comes across something that reminds him of times gone by. He confides in his only friend, and tells his story of his life. He goes back to when he worked on Death Row in a prison in Cold Mountain in 1932, otherwise known as the Green Mile (hence the title!).
John Coffey is an inmate who is convicted of the brutal murder of two little girls (twin sisters), but there is something different about him. Well apart from the fact that he is 6 foot 8 inches tall and black. He is quiet, polite, respectful of the wardens and scared of the dark. From the outset, "Boss" Edgecome is a little intrigued by Coffey as he does not seem to belong on death row.
This interest comes to a head when Coffey "cures" Edgecome's urine infection. Edgecome becomes convinced that Coffey has been wrongly convicted of the crime and sets out to investigate. He learns things along the way that more than convince him that Coffey is innocent and was just trying to help. Also along the way, he learns more about Coffey's gift of healing. As well as being on the receiving end of this gift, he also sees it first hand.
Also incarcerated is Wild Bill, a convicted murderer and thorn in the side of Edgecome and the other wardens. What is his connection with Coffey, who is openly petrified of him? Only time will tell through the book ... sorry but you will just have to read on to find out!
Have you guessed it yet? I loved the book! It has been read so many times that I think it is embedded in my brain!
I find King's style of writing so easy to read, he really gets your attention and keeps it throughout the book. There are times in the book where King is telling a less interesting part of the story, but my attention is gripped through the whole book. Yes there are times throughout the book where the text is a little long winded, but these are really few and far between and do not detract from the reading experience.
One part of King's writing that I thoroughly enjoy is his characterisations. He really makes the characters in the book so real that you can almost imagine what they look like. They are really believable and that is the main thing that I like about King's books, the people in the books are almost real.
I have no hesitation in giving this the full 5 star treatment as I enjoyed this book the first time I read it and have continued to enjoy it again and again through the years. I really think it is time to get a new book as the one I have is so tatty looking!
Price = £5.49 (on Amazon.co.uk)
ISBN = 978-0752826752
Is it value for money? Well I would say I have definitely had my money's worth out of it again and again, given the number of times I have read the book. I have listed the price for a brand new paperback copy on Amazon UK, but my advice is to shop around; there are always bargains to be had on the internet and if you are not bothered about the copy being new, there are usually plenty second hand books to be found on Ebay.
Well, so far I have told you I love this book, and I think it is great value for money.
I cannot really say more - it's a great book by a great author and it truly is captivating from the start (for me anyway)! I cannot really recommend this enough - if you like a good story, this is a great one.
Thanks for reading and happy reading! Di x
The Green Mile focuses on two main characters: John Coffey, a 6' 8" black man convicted of the rape and murder of nine-year-old twins, and the narrator Paul Edgecomb, a death row prison guard at the state penitentiary on Cold Mountain in 1932.
Though Paul has presided over 78 executions, he begins to think John is innocent. John seems too gentle to have committed such a horrible crime. He also has a great healing gift; why would God give a life-giving gift to someone who would kill?
The evidence, however, is clearly against John. The search party looking for the missing twins finds him covered with blood holding the two dead girls. The worst evidence is what seems to be an oral confession when John says, "I tried to take it back but it was too late." The jury thinks this means he raped and murdered the girls, and is sorry he can't bring them back. But Paul recognizes John's magnificent ability when he saves a dying mouse and heals Paul's own health problem.
Paul gets John out of prison to save the warden's wife, who is very ill. When he returns, John grabs a prison guard and with his special powers gives him a brain tumor. This makes the guard kill an inmate who John always said was the devil. This prompts Paul to look further into John's case and, with the help of the sheriff, find new evidence.
At the beginning I believed without a doubt that John Coffey was the murderer. King does a wonderful job presenting facts to make the reader question who really killed the twins. King proves how easy it is to make assumptions without having all the facts, and shows how one piece of evidence can change everything.
I highly recommend The Green Mile to those who like reading about the death penalty and mysteries in general. King does a masterful job creating suspense.
I have read more than 15 books by Stephen King but never was I so affected by any of them as I was by The Green Mile. To summerize, this book is about a man by the name of Paul Edgecomb who tells a story of what he witnessed at Cold Mountain and the executions that took place there. This book is all about death row and the people involved in it. Unlike some of King's other books, this one was truly meaningful and inspiring. Some characters where amusing while others were just absolutley remarkable. The novel's ending is amazing in the way that it concludes the book. I was so aprehensive about what would happen to the characters who I had become so connected with and attached to that I read the second half of the book in two days where as I read the first half in two weeks. This book has some of the greatest suspense King has ever achieved. The Green Mile takes King's storytelling to a new level.
John Coffey arrives at Cold Mountain Penitentiary ready to walk "The Green Mile" for the murder of the twin girls under his protection. Prison Guard Paul Edgecombe has a duty to ensure even the most psychopathic of murderers such as Billy "The Kid" Wharton journey along the mile towards the electric chair is a peaceful one. Why then does Paul start to doubt Coffey's guilt and what does Coffey mean when he says, "I tried to take it back but it was too late"?
Stephen King's "The Green Mile" is that rarest of beasts, a novel that has a wide appeal crossing numerous genres along the way. Perhaps it is because it was originally written as a six-book serial that King is able to defy genre and write so expressively but either way the results are impressive. This is a novel that refuses to be pigeonholed.
Part supernatural-thriller, part historical epic this novel uses an autobiographical style to convey a sense of realism. Using Paul Edgecombe as the narrator of the story it is told as one long flashback from the point of view of Edgecombe in a Nursing Home which he perceives as his very own walk towards death.
Set in depression era America King provides a sobering backdrop in this, a most bizarre tale. King brings the prison itself in the form of E block vividly to life with descriptions that make you envisage the smell of lime on the floors. It is easy to picture the dank, dark cells brightened only by the flickering lights of "The Green Mile" itself.
Edgecombe as a central character at first seems a strange choice. He is such a steady, honest character that he fails to leave any significant impression. However, as he is the narrator of the tale I can only assume this is intentional as his averageness (if there is such a word!) lends itself to the novels believability and sense of realism. Fortunately, there are plenty of other characters to hold interest. Be it the mysterious, simple-minded Goliath John Coffey or the wicked, malicious prison guard Percy King is able to captivate with a vast array of complex personalities.
I can hear people already thinking "It sounds good but I do not like King". I ask you to suspend your preconceptions of King as a thriller/horror writer and give this novel a chance. King is actually at his best when he veers away from the genre for which he is widely known. Those of you who have read the short stories "The Shawshank Redemption", "The Body" or "Hearts in Atlantis" are well aware of this but those who have not were you aware that all of these are some of King's most successful film adaptations ("The Body" renamed "Stand By Me")?
Of course it is impossible not to compare "The Green Mile" book to the award winning film adaptation. Of course there are many similarities with the film surprisingly loyal to the book but I would still urge you to read the book. I love the film but the book is so much more. Backgrounds are more complex, characters deeper and reasoning much more clearly explained. Also were the book is different than the film is that it is less about the black and white of good and bad and more about the shades of grey. Prison Guards in the book are not the whiter than whiter characters you see portrayed in the film of the same name. Indeed the prisoners on Death Row are not given as much sympathy by King as in the film adaptation.
This book is emotional, in parts it is a disturbing look into America's depression era manner of justice but largely it is an uplifting read. Of course it is a little lengthy due to it being an amalgamation of a six novel series but I still found myself hooked throughout. It has a plodding style that is all about setting the scene but for me this is a refreshing change from the non-stop action of a King horror.
What I am trying to say in my long-winded way is read this book! King lovers will be pleased and it may even convince the most ardent of King haters that he can weave a convincing story. Available for the paltry £5.59 in paperback on Amazon you really need to read it. Go on you know it makes sense.
As I am sure everyone is aware, Stephen King has established himself as one of the most creative, and constant horror writers of the last few decades. He has released a long list of best-sellers including The Shining, The Stand, Christine and IT to name but a few. So it actually comes as quite a surprise when you read some of his lesser horror novels, like The Shawshank Redemption, The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, and this very outing - The Green Mile. This novel was originally released in the form of six paperbacks, and have now been put together in one volume to create the complete novel. This means that at the beginning of each new part, King tends to re-iterate the events of the last part before concluding. Although that can get a little tedious, the overall plot loses nothing. The storyline is told to you in the form of a narrative by the leading character, Paul Edgecombe. He is the head prison warden in an American penitentiary and works on what is know as the Green mile. The green mile is the area of the prison set aside for those who were condemed to death by electric current. Paul is writing his account of events that happened during the 1930's. It is the supernatural tale of an inmate called John Coffey who was found holding two raped and murdered sisters in his arms. John Coffey is an extraordinary individual who has a talent for healing all beings, and you quickly begin to question his ability to take part in such a horrible crime. Along with Paul, there a number of other wardens who all have there place. Brutus "Brutal" Howell, and Percy Wetmore are the two characters that really stand out. Brutal is a big guy with a hearty of gold, and Percy is a complete s**t.(Believe me, you really end up not liking him) A mouse appears on the block and gains the fascination of all in attendance, as it doesn't seem to react in a mouse's usual manner. The mouse becomes
known as Mr. Jingles when an inmate called Eduard Delacroix takes him as a pet and teaches him tricks. Percy's dislike of Mr. Jingles leads him to crushing the poor little fella, but it is at this point that John Coffey's special powers become common knowledge as he brings the mouse back to life. John is then smuggled from the complex by Paul and his colleagues to help a friend who had developed a brain tumor. After this event, Paul really begins to doubt John Coffey's involvment in the murders, and starts snooping around to find out the truth. It's about here that I want to stop so that I don't spoil the plot for anybody who hasn't read the book, or the seen the brilliant film. I have now read this book twice and could easily read it again. It is an extremely gripping novel that will have you page-turning long after your bedtime. Stephen King always delves into each character so that you really feel that you know a lot about these people, and share their pain. The plot will have you until the very end, and even then you'll be shocked at the hidden twist. I bought my copy from Asda priced £3.97, and believe that it was a fantastic purchase. The film is also very good, and I would recommend getting yourself a copy of that too.
I've always been a bit of a Stephen King fan, but, until "The Green Mile", I'd never actually read one of his books ( why read the book when it's on TV?!). "The Green Mile" is, in my opinion, one of the best books ever written (rating alongside my previous 'best ever books' - "Catcher in the Rye" and "Wuthering Heights"). I can only describe this book as an experience - magical, intriguing, emotional. I won't 'go into detail' regarding the actual plot/story (other than to say that there are similarities between this book and "Shawshank Redemption",which is also a fantastic S.King book), simply because I think it is the actual class of writing that makes this book so special, rather than the storyline. SPECIAL - that's the word!! Since reading "The Green Mile", I've read every Stephen King book and, because old habits are hard to break, I bought "The Green Mile" video (which is a great film, but, doesn't do the book justice, remotely). "The Green Mile" inspired me and even now, writing this, I have 'butterflies in my stomach' remembering just how much I enjoyed and was inspired by, "The Green Mile" Walk the mile - you won't regret it!!!