Customer Review

140 of 155 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mississippi Delta Farm Life In The 1940's, June 27, 2008
This review is from: Mudbound (Hardcover)
In her novel MUDBOUND Hillary Jordan does a good job bringing the language and attitudes of both black and white rural Mississippians living in the years surrounding World War II to life. The story is told by six "voices". Laura's voice is perhaps the one we hear from most frequently. She is a "city" (Memphis) born woman who marries when in her early 30's and had given up on marriage and motherhood. Her husband is Henry, a basically good but also inconsiderate man and it is his dreams of farm life that bring his wife and daughters to live on a remote cotton farm with him and his hateful father. Another voice belongs to Jamie, Henry's much younger charming brother, a returning war hero with a serious drinking problem and some other unresolved issues. Hap is a middle aged black tenant farmer and an almost saintly part time preacher and his voice helps us understand the hopes, desires and choices of many black Southern Americans of that time. His wife Florence is a sharply observant voice who sees much as "granny midwife" to the poorer people in the area and in her other role as housekeeper for Laura and her family. Florence and Hap's son Ronsel is the last voice. Ronsel returns from service in World War II much changed after seeing the greater acceptance of blacks in Europe and other parts of the United States and finds difficulty in accepting the subservient plight of black folks in the Jim Crow Delta.

The beginning and ending of the novel are the weakest parts. The beginning chapter in which we meet Jamie and Henry digging a grave should be compelling but somehow isn't and I had to force myself to continue reading and was fortunately soon rewarded as Laura begins to tell her story. The ending of the book also has problems and is not nearly as strong as the author seemed to have intended. In fact the overall quality of writing in the novel weakens after the tragic climax. There are also some very predictable plot elements that keep the story from seeming as original as it could be. Yet this is a very readable worthy book with some important messages about racism and humanity as well as some real insight in to life in the Delta sixty some years ago.
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Comments

Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jul 20, 2008 11:43:51 PM PDT
lovetoread says:
Strange you should find the opening chapter "weak." I was captivated after the first couple of sentences. I felt it was a very strong beginning. I finished the novel yesterday and haven't decided yet about the ending/coda. Yes, there are some predictable plot elements but as we advance the feeling of dread and inevitability, as well as a few surprises, give it almost a feeling of a classical tragedy.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 21, 2008 8:22:19 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jul 21, 2008 10:59:37 PM PDT
We're all entitled to our own opinions no matter how "strange" they may seem to others. I felt the first chapter was not at all well written, was simply there for "shock" value and did not fit in any way with the rest of the book. I don't think MUDBOUND is a terrible book at all and I struggled over whether to give it three or four stars but I finally settled on three because I don't feel it has any elements that are particularly fresh or original no matter how diligently the author tries to convey that there are.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2008 6:50:28 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 8, 2008 6:52:13 PM PDT
This is in reply to "lovestoread." I was immediately [and I mean from page one] drawn into this book. I, too, do not feel that the beginning was weak at all. I'm not sure that this book had "weak" parts. I was totally taken by the fluidity of Jordan's prose and her ability to capture the mores of pre-WWII, as well as post-WWII. Yes, there was a feeling of dread. One knows this from the beginning. I don't understand the lack of a larger readership -- I've been thinking about this. Thanks for your input. As you can tell, I really enjoyed this book -- my review indicates the reasons.
Marilyn Raisen

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 13, 2008 4:20:50 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Aug 13, 2008 4:21:14 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 14, 2009 11:14:09 AM PDT
Rich says:
I agree with the reviewer. i felt the last chapter was not necessary. The author had already outlined all the issues and her ideas in the preceding chapters. The last chapter is too preachy. I also agree the book is not that original but it is a good read. I think the three stars are fine. The different narrative voices is also effective, though i think unfortunately as the book goes on, all the voices start to sound like one character.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 18, 2011 9:36:40 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 20, 2011 5:26:45 AM PDT
Lynnie says:
I was captivated by this book from page one.

Posted on Feb 8, 2012 11:10:18 PM PST
KTBR says:
I totally agree with you that the first and last parts of the book were the weakest portions of the novel. My friend LOVES this book and highly recommended it. So I kept going - but I was never fully impressed. I didn't finish the book thinking - wow, I've learned something new. Instead I felt slightly deflated. Couldn't say that I admired anyone other than Florence in this novel.
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