Wednesday, 13 February 2013

True Grit by Charles Portis

“People do not give it credence that a fourteen-year-old girl could leave home and go off in the wintertime to avenge her father's blood but it did not seem so strange then, although I will say it did not happen every day. I was just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name Tom Chaney shot my father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robbed him of his life and his horse and $150 in cash money plus two California gold pieces that he carried in his trouser band.”
 - Charles Portis, True Grit

First published in 1968 and made into a movie of the same name starring the ‘Duke’ himself (John Wayne) this is the story of fourteen year old Mattie Ross and her quest to bring her father’s killer to justice.

While I wanted to read this book I also wondered whether I could cope with the style – based in the 1870s, it is written in Mattie’s voice and I thought she would be a little old fashioned and proper for my taste. How wrong was I!

The eldest child and older than her years, Mattie has long shouldered adult responsibilities in her role within the family. When her father is murdered by a man known to the family, in fact someone her father has helped, Mattie takes it in her hands to see justice done. She will either see the cowardly murderer shot or hung.

Mattie is a formidably tenacious character and I thoroughly enjoyed her single-minded determination and righteous attitude. She never lets up in her quest; facing down tough marshals, hard riding in outlaw country, facing poisonous snakes – nothing is to be shied away from to ensure the success of her mission.

Having enjoyed this book so much I then went on to see the remake of the movie by the Coen Brothers starring Jeff Bridges. I was impressed. They stayed true to the book and portrayed Mattie exactly as I had pictured her.

Posted by Hastings Book Chat

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True Grit by Charles Portis, reprint 2010

Movie trailer on Youtube

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