The Green Mile by Stephen King was my fourth Stephen King read in October. It was also my favourite. Although I saw the movie long ago, I had forgotten what happened. So it was great to read the novel and rediscover the story.
The Green Mile was first released as six serial installments over 6 months in 1996 like Charles Dickens did back in the day. (You can see in the photo that my husband collected the originals). It was a huge publishing risk at the time as publishers didn’t know if readers would embrace the formats or want to keep buying the installments.
Thankfully readers loved the concept and it went on to sell millions of copies over various editions. When reading the book in one volume I did get a sense of the six separate books as Stephen would do a bit of a recap at the start of each book. But it didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.
Described as an example of Southern Gothic or magic realism, The Green Mile refers to the green lino corridor leading from the death row cells in the Cold Mountain Penitentiary to the electric chair. It’s narrated by former death row cell block supervisor Paul Edgecombe as he looks back at the year 1932 when a very special inmate arrives. John Coffey is a giant black man who has been convicted of murdering two white twin girls. But there’s something magical and childlike about John and Paul starts to suspect that he isn’t a killer. In fact, John Coffey is a man with extraordinary gift.
The Green Mile has a meandering kind of storytelling that was never boring. The reader really gets to know the prison guards and the different inmates. One inmate is an extraordinary mouse who brings wonder and joy to the cell block. There’s also a loose cannon prison guard who brings his fair share of conflict to the cell block and the story itself.
Paul is an intelligent, sympathetic narrator. The book switches from his 1932 retelling to ‘present times’ where he is an old man in a nursing home, scribbling down his story. Tom Hanks was perfectly cast as Paul in the film.
If you have been wanting to try a non-horror Stephen King that has great characters and a memorable story then I highly recommend trying this book. It’s also a good one for crime thriller and mystery lovers given the prison storyline.
I know that Stephen King is considered a great writer. But reading The Green Mile really confirmed his talent for me. This book gave me all the feels. It was brilliant.
Verdict: A must-read for Stephen King fans or anyone wanting to try a non-horror Stephen King novel.
P.S… Are you on Instagram or Twitter? Feel free to connect with me there.
I also blog about copywriting, book marketing and publishing on my blog at Breezy Words.