Having just been released on Netflix this past Friday, and already creating buzz in terms of possible Oscar nominations and glory, Mudbound is a story that many have been talking about since its run on the festival circuit. While you can read our review of the film, starring Carey Mulligan, Jason Clarke and Garrett Hedlund, we’ve also had the pleasure of reading Hillary Jordan’s book and it certainly strikes a chord.
The American South is a dark, mud-ridden landscape with a clear divide between the white American folks and the black community, extending to households being served by those of African-American origin and even their place on the bus at the back, as well as being forced to exit shops at the back. It’s a harsh reality and one that is looked upon with sadness by Laura, the unassuming wife of Henry McAllen, who looks upon his younger brother Jamie with fond eyes and has to share her home begrudgingly with their father, a mean and racist old man who rarely cracks a smile.
This family in Mississippi find their lives intertwined with the Jacksons, a black family looking to simply earn their living and do best by the ones they love. When their son Ronsel returns from the war, having befriended Jamie on the front, joy finally comes their way but both families find that their involvement with one another isn’t always a good experience.
Mudbound is a sheer joy to read, as Hillary Jordan strikes a chord with her description of the downtrodden lands of the American South and creates a truly imaginable picture of how tough life is in the eyes of each character. The book itself jumps from one character to the next – each chapter a wonderful insight into the thoughts of the core individuals – and works an absolute treat. From Laura’s anguish as she finds herself in a difficult marriage, to Ronsel and Jamie’s recollections of their experience in war, Mudbound nails the character connectivity and then some.
While this can often transfer with difficulty on to the screen, Mudbound works perfectly in presenting each of its passing characters and the ongoing narrative, forging a truly fascinating story of two families whose lives are intertwined in very different circumstances. It’s a true page-turner and one that should certainly be sought out either before or after watching the Netflix Original film.
Mudbound is available in shops now.