|Nomadic SA Chick||
Publisher: Bantam Classics
Page Count: 160
Fiction Category: Mystery, Humor, Historical Fiction
Dates Read: March 18-21, 2015
Goodreads: At the beginning of Pudd'nhead Wilson a young slave woman, fearing for her infant's son's life, exchanges her light-skinned child with her master's. From this rather simple premise Mark Twain fashioned one of his most entertaining, funny, yet biting novels. On its surface, Pudd'nhead Wilson possesses all the elements of an engrossing nineteenth-century mystery: reversed identities, a horrible crime, an eccentric detective, a suspenseful courtroom drama, and a surprising, unusual solution. Yet it is not a mystery novel. Seething with the undercurrents of antebellum southern culture, the book is a savage indictment in which the real criminal is society, and racial prejudice and slavery are the crimes. Written in 1894, Pudd'nhead Wilson glistens with characteristic Twain humor, with suspense, and with pointed irony: a gem among the author's later works.
Manda's: Set in Missouri, a young, light-skinned, slave woman switches her light-skinned infant for her master's infant after the death of the baby's mother. The young girl is the primary care taker for her child and the infant master, who were born on the same day. The young woman grows to regret this decision as she watches the man her son, dressed as her master's son, becomes. Pudd'nhead Wilson is a young lawyer new to town who quickly earns this unfortunate nickname upon his arrival. The lives of the young woman, the two grown boys, and Wilson continue to collide in this odd tale.
I have to confess that this is the first Mark Twain book I have ever read, though I am very familiar with some of Twain's most famous works (thanks, Johnathan Taylor Thomas). After reading this book I understand now why so many people hold Twain in such high regard, and I will be reading more of his stories later on. I found this book to be enjoyable, albeit predicable, but that did not take away from the quality of the story or the writing. The characters are very well developed, and you end up loving all of them, even the despicable ones. This book was written in 1894, with the science of finger printing as a central theme of the story. This was written well before finger printing was taken seriously in the criminal justice system in America. Well done, Twain.
I give this a 3 out of 5.