Gray Mountain
by John Grisham and Catherine Taber

Overview - John Grisham has a n ew hero . . . and she's full of surprises

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer's career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track--until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building.

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More About Gray Mountain by John Grisham; Catherine Taber
John Grisham has a new hero . . . and she's full of surprises

The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer's career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track--until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the "lucky" associates. She's offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she'd get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town's legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to "help real people with real problems." For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren't so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

  • ISBN-13: 9780385366533
  • ISBN-10: 0385366531
  • Publisher: Random House
  • Publish Date: October 2014
  • Dimensions: 1 x 5 x 6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.7 pounds

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BookPage Reviews

Audio: Women and war

“In love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.” The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah’s latest novel and a departure from her previous bestsellers, explores that powerful statement. Set in France during WWII, it’s told as an epic flashback by an elderly woman, one of two sisters, now urged into assisted care by her son. What unfolds is the story of these sisters. Vianne is a mild, loving wife and mother living in a Loire village as her husband goes off to fight, while Isabelle, 10 years younger, is bold, impetuous, rebellious, and has just been expelled from yet another school. In their very different ways, they must confront the horrors of the Nazi occupation. Isabelle joins the resistance, becoming a famous passeur, leading downed allied airmen to freedom. Vianne quietly begins to save Jewish children in her village from deportation and death. Hannah makes the war’s degradation and deprivation palpable and the valor of the sisters vivid, as does Polly Stone’s Gallic-glazed narration. 

Addie Baum, the irrepressibly feisty, endearing heroine of Anita Diamant’s novel, The Boston Girl, comes to vibrant life in Linda Lavin’s reading, with her pitch-perfect Boston-Jewish accent. Addie, now 85 and a doting grandmother, is more than willing to share her story, warts and all, with her youngest granddaughter. The first U.S.-born child of East European immigrants in 1900, Addie’s life is a mirror of the transformations that made the 20th century so exciting. Her parents, a constantly carping mother and a somewhat disengaged father, held hard to their old-world values, and didn’t understand a girl who wanted to go to high school and college. But Addie persevered and, step by unsteady step, built a life with meaning, found a man with whom she could share her liberal values and had both a career and a family. Diamant offers a heartwarming, but unsentimental, serenade to the immigrant experience.

John Grisham’s latest, Gray Mountain isn’t a whodunit or a traditional legal thriller. You know from the get-go that Big Coal, in collusion with politicians, judges, doctors and even some federal agencies, did it, does it and is determined to keep at it. “It” is the incredible devastation of Appalachia and of the miners and their families. Grisham has wrapped his impassioned advocacy for stopping Big Coal’s rape of the land and the rampant pollution and ruined lives that come as collateral damage in a fast-paced page-turner. It stars an attractive, smart, well-educated young lawyer who was on the fast track to making partner in a prestigious New York law firm—until the 2008 crash. Suddenly, without a salary or a shiny future, Samantha Kofer finds herself at the Mountain Legal Aid Clinic in Brady, Virginia, a very small town in the heart of Appalachia. And suddenly, she’s dealing with the victims of Big Coal’s greed and the crusading local lawyers dedicated to helping them, no matter what the risk. Catherine Taber’s performance makes Samantha, the good guys and the bad real and relevant.


This article was originally published in the February 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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