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4.7 out of 5 stars
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4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 6 December 2006
Before I start this review I want to say that I think To Kill a Mockingbird is a brilliant novel and it easily gets five stars. This review is of this book specifically. I happen to have both this edition and an older version printed in the 70s, and I'm afraid they seem to have strangely edited it. A couple of bits are cut out for no apparant reason - pages 191 and 280 - and I really can't fathom why they did it. The old version is far better. Footlights is changed to floodlights, another really weird and miniscule change which I know doesn't make any difference whatsoever, but why the hell did they change it in the first place? There are loads of misprints also, which don't appear in the older version. I know that normal people (unlike me) won't care, but I'd really advise you to buy a different edition if you can find one, as the changes on 191 and 280 are quite major, and neither of the changes are improvements. I want to repeat that I think the book itself is brilliant and deserves five stars, but get a different edition.
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on 17 March 2003
I must have read this story at least five times in the two or so years since I first picked up a copy, sometimes returning right back to the start after closing the book. I only wish I could remain immersed in Harper Lee's bygone age and beautifully crafted characters, and not have to reach that last page.
The main thread of 'To Kill A Mockingbird' is the trial of a black man, the symbolic 'mockingbird' of the title, who is accused of raping a white woman, but I much prefer the subtext of a widower father struggling to raise his children with the correct values in a deeply prejudiced society. The story is told through the eyes of the eight year old daughter, 'Scout', which at once paints a more honest picture of events whilst presenting a biased opinion of the central adult protagonist. Whether or not Scout is blinded by love for her father, Atticus Finch is probably one of the most heroic characters in fiction, and a role model for fathers everywhere. Although the trial itself is a tense moment in the story, and educational from a historical point of view, it is the Finch family dynamic that has made me so attached to this story. The first part of the book, when the children are younger and still relatively blind to the world that surrounds them, provides the most enjoyable reading.
I don't know whether it is a good or bad thing that Harper Lee has only written this one story, because I doubt 'To Kill A Mockingbird' could be surpassed. Scout's narration presents both a child's world in adult terms, and an adult world from a child's point of view, providing much comic relief amidst the drama and heartfelt emotion.
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on 26 January 2016
If you’ve never read (or perhaps not even heard of) To Kill a Mockingbird, then I’m sorry but you ought to be shot for crimes against literature. This lovely (and occasionally disturbing) story was, until recently, the only book that Lee ever published, but what a book it is – if you’re only going to publish one book, you might as well take your chance to tear the world apart with the serious questions on race and ethics that you pose to your reader, like Miss Lee did.

The story-line is reasonably well-known, and so I don’t want to go into it too much – broadly speaking, though, it follows the Finch family as the children’s father, Atticus Finch, attempts to defend a black man in a trial. Of course, I’m not going to tell you what the result is, but it’s actually the journey that conveys most of the story.

Racial discrimination was clearly still a problem in America as the 1950s turned into the 1960s, and whilst I accept that it’s still a problem in our current troubled times, it was even worse back in the day. Harper Lee doesn’t seem to be a fan of outright racism, and so her magnum opus was effectively designed to highlight the inherent unfairness that many people of colour were forced to endure.

To Kill a Mockingbird, then, isn’t just a novel – it’s a piece of history, and a key piece of literature in the war to create an enlightened, civilised world where people don’t kill each other for no reason or try to classify one another based upon their physical appearance. As Lee proves, there’s so much more to a person than their skin colour – it’s a lesson we can all learn from.
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on 8 August 2007
I first read this book when I was very young, too young to understand it, and then again when I was at school. But this is one of those books that becomes more profound, more accessible and more relevant the more you read it.

On the surface, it is a tale of racial prejudice in the search for justice, but in fact the story goes beyond that. It is about all prejudices, about the importance of walking around in someone else's shoes in order to truly understand them. Jem and Scout are delightfully child-like, and the effect of a hindsight narrative only adds to the many layers to be found here. Atticus Finch is the man to beat all men - he is the ideal father, the ideal man. He stands for justice, for righteousness and for "fighting back", even when you know you have lost. He is the ideal against which all men should be measured.

This is the most brilliant story of one community's injustice in small-town America, the consequences of which resonate throughout society at large. There has never been (and can never be) another "To Kill a Mockingbird", and the most amazing thing about this novel is that it can be read, re-read and read again generation after generation, and its magic only ever increases. A must-have in your collection!
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on 22 September 2010
As an avid reader, with a very catholic taste in books, this novel has always been a huge favourite of mine. I first read it as a teenager, and loved it without really fully understanding it's depth.
The storyline is both simple and at the same time complex, and I have come back to it several times over the years.
I love being read to, even as a very grown up woman!! So when I saw that Sissy Spacek had recorded it, I just had to buy it. And WOW..!!
This lady reads it so well, you are there, living in the Deep South, with Scout and Jem. I have many Audio Books, but I have yet to hear one read SO brilliantly. If you are thinking of perhaps buying it, I urge you to do so, you will have hours of pleasure to look forward to.
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on 1 August 2010
I read this book while on holiday and had a bit of trouble to begin with it... It is one of those books that is so well written and has so many insights that you really have to be paying attention whist reading (hard when travelling).

The book only really starts in earnest around about a third of the way in, so you have to be a little patient to get to the crux of the matter (admittedly I don't read blurbs so didn't know what direction the book was going to take).

However, once underway, this book is a pearl of wisdom and humanity. The story of Scout and her family is simply stunning in its scope. By adopting to tell the story from a child's point-of-view, Lee has been able to deal with profound topics about humanity and injustice in a way that is accessible, funny and highly engaging.

The standout areas for me revolved around Atticus' explanations and empathy for others. I'm trying to adjust some of my thinking in my life based on what I've read in this book. Thoughts, like the fact we can and should try to put ourselves in others peoples shoes are so well explained.

For me, this book could be thought studied as a form of philosophy; the core principles revolving around empathy and pacifism. In today's world of terrorism and Pre-emptive Wars I wish more politicians (who've probably read this book) would go back to it adopt Harper Lee's doctrine.

I am not usually one to re-read books (after all, I'll never get through all the books I still want to read in this lifetime) but I suspect that this book will become one exception. There are so many treasures, insights and nuggets of wisdom that I didn't quite capture in my first read. Highly, highly recommended.
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on 19 March 2007
There are many great books... and there are some books that, when read, stay with you forever. Harper Lee has written one of those books - To Kill A Mockingbird. Written from the perspective of a child (Scout Finch) it holds within it's pages an innocence that I have rarely found in any other book. This book may change the way you think... it may change your life... it will certainly make you wish for an era long gone - or one that may have never even existed, save for in the brilliant mind of Harper Lee.

But any students studying this book for an exam, be warned! Read the book, and do not try to cheat or take a short cut by watching the film. The book is written entirely from a childs point of veiw - and the film is definitely from the perspective of Scout and Jems father, Atticus Finch.

I've read this book maybe fifty times... and I'd still read it again, and again. Rarely is a book of this calibre written - don't miss out and pass it aside.
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on 7 July 2010
If you loved reading the book or have seen the movie - you can't fail to enjoy this audio version. Sissy Spacek has exactly the right voice, and in particular, her portrayal of Scout Finch is mesmerising.
This masterful reading brings the world of Maycomb County vividly to life. And at such a bargain price, it is a must-have for fans of the book.
Buy it now - you will not be disappointed!
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VINE VOICEon 26 February 2011
Harper Lee was encouraged to write some of her childhood memories. What in the beginning seems like the story of three childhood friends in depression era Macomb, Alabama, turns out to be packed with insights to the makeup of human kind.

This story is intriguing on many levels from the history of the area to the stereotyping of people. Most of all every turn was a surprise as told in the first person from the view of Scout Finch. And instead of telling the story in a six year old vocabulary she uses an exceptionally large repertoire to describe the people and events. This story is not as slow passed as one may guess from first glance as every remark and every action will be needed for a future action.

A major controversial part of the story is the trial of Tom Robinson. Hoverer this is just a catalyst to help Scout understand the nature of people including her father Atticus and you will find that as important as it is it is just a part of the story with other major characters such as Arthur "Boo" Radley.

Even thought it appears that Scout is the recipient of the insights, I believe we the reader is the real recipient.

I can truly say that this book has changed my outlook in life.

To Kill a Mockingbird (Collector's Edition)

Harper Lee (Up Close)
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on 28 December 2014
Interesting bit of semi-fictionalized social history. If I were rating it for the narrator's socio-political views it would get 5 stars, but litcrit doesn't work that way. It is (as Capote said) a warm, likeable book. As a highly intelligent child, Scout is able to look at the affairs of adults with the puzzlement of an alien visitor to our world. I had the same experience of primary school teachers as Ms Lee seems to have done, so I'm not claiming this kind of child narrator is unrealistic, but it's more interesting when a writer works with the dramatic irony of the gulf between the child's understanding and what is really going on - for example in Frayn's Spies or James's What Maisie Knew. I would rather have read Dill's take on all this, in his world where babies are found on an island waiting to have life breathed into them.
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