February Goodreads Book Review
Published on Friday, March 1, 2013 - 8:19am
Charles Portis’ classic novel, True Grit, tells the story of young Mattie Ross, a 14-year-old seeking justice for her father’s murder. She states in the opening line of the novel, “People do not give it credence that a 14-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.” She is right about this sort of thing not happening every day, but then again, strong, young female characters like Mattie do not come around every day either.
Mattie hires an ornery old U.S. Marshal, Rooster Cogburn, to help her track down her father’s killer, and the pair are joined by Texas Ranger LeBoeuf, who has been hunting the killer, Tom Chaney, for an unrelated homicide in Texas. At first the two older men try to leave Mattie behind, but her dogged pursuit eventually convinces them that she is up to the task.
True Grit is filled with stark descriptions of western landscapes and matter-of-fact scenes of violence delivered by a narrator sounding wise beyond her years. The tone of the novel fits the subject matter perfectly, but the novel is not without its moments of dry humor. True Grit might just be the perfect Western, with the perfect narrator as well.
The Coen brothers’ film adaptation of True Grit maintains the narrative voice of Portis’ novel and manages to create a beautiful, sprawling western landscape. They retain the subtle humor of the novel, and capture Mattie’s determined strength as well. Jeff Bridges portrays Rooster Cogburn as no one else really could, and newcomer Hailee Steinfeld shows incredible promise in her portrayal of Mattie Ross. The Coen brothers more than do Portis’ novel justice, using the source material to create a sweeping, modern take on a Western.
Both the book and the movie versions of True Grit are well worth your time, so check them both out today at your local DC Public Library and join us with your thoughts on Goodreads!