Sometimes we fall behind, even on our favorite authors, don’t we? And so after I put down Gray Mountain, I wasn’t totally surprised that John Grisham had released this tale centered around a promising young woman attorney who descends from bustling Big Law in New York City to the mysterious and perhaps not-so-sleepy mountains of Virginia two years ago. (I was a bit more taken aback by the presence already of three more titles on his book page on a personal site titled “America’s favorite storyteller, but that’s another story.)
Samantha Kofer is chugging right along, an associate for a huge Wall Street firm — and a daughter of two now-divorced lawyers, mind you — and seemingly on the path to partner if she keeps putting in those ungodly work weeks. Then the financial crisis of the new millenium hits, and she, along with so many other young attorneys in the same boat, are quickly too much salary to keep on. Her branch, though, offers little peace. If she accepts an unpaid internship on a pre-approved list, her health insurance will be kept up for a year, and she’ll be considered for a re-up if the sun starts rising and setting over the skyscrapers again.
Samantha heads to D.C., to visit Dad, now a consultant after spending time in prison for embezzling funds while a high-priced litigator, and Mom, a bigwig for Justice. While measuring their non-tenable suggestions, she’s turned down by all of the non-profits on her firm’s list but one.
Oh, what a one that Legal Clinic in the heart of Appalachia turns out to be, as stricken Samantha learns under the watchful eye of smart Mattie Wyatt, who’s lived in Brady her whole life and loves helping the poor folk struggling to survive as companies do nasty stuff to pull coal from the mountains. Mattie’s nephew, Donovan, fights the coal companies with huge lawsuits, with help from his investigator brother. The companies fight back, with much bigger and powerful resources.
And Samantha finds out much about the area, the people. And herself.
Grisham, of course, still knows the south. His take on the law circles of Manhattan and D.C. make for interesting straws for stirring.
Are you a fan of John Grisham’s fictional law world, and why or why not? If so, what’s your favorite Grisham novel, and why? If you’ve ever visited the Appalachian Mountains, what did you think?