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The Green Mile Paperback – March 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

When Stephen King originally wrote The Green Mile as a series of six novellas, he didn't even know how the story would turn out. And it turned out to be of his finest yarns, tapping into what he does best: character-driven storytelling. The setting is the small "death house" of a Southern prison in 1932. The Green Mile is the hall with a floor "the color of tired old limes" that leads to "Old Sparky" (the electric chair). The charming narrator is an old man, a prison guard, looking back on the events decades later.

Maybe it's a little too cute (there's a smart prison mouse named Mr. Jingles), maybe the pathos is laid on a little thick, but it's hard to resist the colorful personalities and simple wonders of this supernatural tale. And it's not a bad choice for giving to someone who doesn't understand the appeal of Stephen King, because the one scene that is out-and-out gruesome (it involves "Old Sparky") can be easily skipped by the squeamish.

The Green Mile won a 1997 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel; and Tom Hanks stars in a film of the novel by Frank Darabont, the director of The Shawshank Redemption (from King's collection Different Seasons). --Fiona Webster


"A literary event." -- Entertainment Weekly

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket (March 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671032658
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671032654
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 4 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,301 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,916,702 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

147 of 153 people found the following review helpful By Leah Jesse on June 21, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I have to admit that I watched the movie before I read the book. I was very pleased after finishing the book to realize that the movie did not deviate too far from the book at all.
This is the first Stephen King novel I've ever read. I don't care for horror and supernatural stories, but this particular story I felt needed to be read, not for the supernatural tale, but for the human experience.
In the 6 sections of the serial novel that comprises the paperback, King develops the story of John Coffey, who is sent to death row, which is also called "The Green Mile", for the rape and murders of twin girls. However, Paul Edgecombe, security guard, doesn't believe that this man, who's afraid of the dark, could have committed such a terrible crime. Intertwined within this story are subplots that include, Percy Wetmore, Eduard Delacroix, and William 'Billy The Kid' Wharton, and of course Mr. Jingles.
The movie is approximately 3 hours long, and it was worth every minute. I read the book in 2 days, and that's a record for me, and it was also worth every minute.
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63 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is an old man's (Paul Edgecomb - the head prison guard at Cell Block E), recollection of events that occurred in 1932 at the Cold Mountain State Penitentiary. In particular, it focuses on John Coffey, a convicted murderer and rapist of two small girls, convicted murder and psychopath William (Billy the Kid) Wharton and convicted murder Delacroix. And a mouse by the name of "Mr. Jingles". It is the story of a special gift which one of these prisoners possesses, one that none of us would probably want.
King has produced a profoundly moving story and I assure you, the last fifty pages of this book will be read through tear-filled eyes.
The characters and story are memorable; the lessons and messages are clear.
I absolutely loved this book...I think you will too! (Let's all hope Hollywood does a good job with it) Most highly recommended!
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Eric on December 3, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The movie "The Shawshank Redemption" has one of the most compelling stories of all time. Great characters, gripping plot, a heartfelt emotion make it an experience like no other. Now, there is another king (no pun intended) in town. The Green Mile, with its cast of well-fleshed and intriguing characters (John Coffey, Delacroix, and even Mr. Jingles the mouse) and emotion thicker than pea soup make this a great book already. But where this book truly shines is its plot; engaging, well-crafted, intriguing, thought-provoking, riveting, you name it, this plot has it. Considering that Stephen King didn't know how it would end when he began writing it, this an astonishing feat. This is the best book I have ever read, and I recommend it to anyone.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 16, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I bought the book because I wanted to know the story before the movie was released. I am a Stephen King fan but realize that not all of his stories translate well on film, so I wanted to get a heads up beforehand. In the same vein as 'Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption' (title of the original story, not the movie), Stephen King took what could have been a depressing and, what I'm sure some were expecting, horrifying story line, and wove into it some of the most touching glimpses of humanity and spirituality that I have ever read. Since the story is set in the 1930s, I thought he captured the racism of the time very well -- the interactions between John Coffey and the other characters in the book seemed natural, if that is a word wants to associate with prejudicial attitudes.
What I liked about the book is that Stephen King was able to humanize everyone. In spite of being Death Row inmates, one can almost feel a sympathy for these men, except for Wild Bill Wharton, of course. John Coffey's tears, Delacroix's friendship with a stray mouse -- it was an interesting contrast to our popular perceptions of 'hardened criminals.' Also, the interactions between the 'guilty' men on the inside and the 'innocent' men on the outside make you think about who is more capable of evil (study Percy Whetmore).
I agreed with one reviewer that, in collapsing the series into one novel, there was some unnecessary repetition at the beginning of each segment. Aside from that, I had very few problems with the book, and I cried when I finished reading it. Not the reaction I expected to have upon arriving at the end of a Stephen King novel. But, I leave you to judge for yourself. Also, go see the movie -- it is equally beautiful, and brings the characters (specifically John Coffey and Percy Whetmore) to life in a way that you can't get from reading the book. If anything, watch it for Mr. Jingles.
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Is John Coffey a Murderer? As the large man is admitted to Death Row at Cold Mountain Penitentiary saying, "I tried to take it back, but it was too late," that is question Paul Edgecombe, head of security, must ask himself.After some investigation, and with the help of Eduard Delecroix, a convicted murderer, and his pet mouse Mr. Jingles, Paul discovers the truth and is forced to make the most difficult decision of his life. Along the way, William "Billy the Kid" Wharton comes to the Green Mile (so named for its lime carpeting) and shakes things up, just adding to the trouble caused by Percy Wetmore, the antagonistic rookie guard.The book is told in first person and six parts, as Paul Edgecombe recounts the events and carries on a simultaneous present tense story. I liked the book it has realistic dialogue as well as a down-to-earth view during the Great Depression, and the way it was written in parts gives it a unique feel. The Green Mile, by Stephen King, is definately worth the read.
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