Book Review: True Grit by Charles Portis

Title: True Grit
Author: Charles Portis
Published: 1968
Genre: Fiction – Western

Summary: True Grit tells the story of Mattie Ross, who is just fourteen years of age when a coward going by the name of Tom Chaney shoots her father down in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and robs him of his life, his horse, and $150 in cash. Mattie leaves home to avenge her father’s blood. With the one-eyed Rooster Cogburn, the meanest available U.S. Marshal, by her side, Mattie pursues the homicide into Indian Territory.

My Rating: 8igbk4dbt8igbk4dbt8igbk4dbt8igbk4dbt 1/2

This is my second time reading True Grit by Charles Portis and I must say that I enjoyed far more this time.

True Grit follows the story of 14 year old Mattie Ross whose father is killed by the coward Tom Chaney and we follow as she takes it up to avenge his death by hiring veteran marshal and drunkard Rooster Cogburn. This is a straight up adventure but also coming of age story that gives us the smart, resourceful and mature Mattie. She is very matter of fact, has no fanciful notions and is very much a woman in her 40s but in the body of a teen.

I love Mattie, she’s such a fantastic character, the story never gets away from her and she gives us great insight into her male companions. Cogburn is such a complex gray character, his morality is flawed, he has many faults but he’s also selfless and brave. We watching him rise to hero by the end giving us plenty of satisfaction. We also have LaBeouf, a Texas marshal who is also tracking Chaney and he adds the perfect angle for this trio. When we meet LaBeouf he’s completely full of himself, worrying about his hair and not thinking much about Mattie but he also becomes a hero in his own right and we grow to care for the trio (and what great HBO series would it be to follow these three through adventures pretending the end didn’t happen, I would watch the crap out of it).

Needless to say, I highly recommend this story. It’s pure Western with real grit, a great female lead that is complimented with great male counterparts. It is incredibly readable and if you have not watched the 2010 movie please do so, it is a fantastic adaptation.



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