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From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird Maycomb Alabama Twenty six year old Jean Louise Finch—Scout—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father Atticus Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close knit family the town and the people dearest to her Memories from her childhood flood back and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman and a world in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience Written in the mid 1950s Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom humanity passion humor and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird but also serves as its essential companion adding depth context and new meaning to an American classic


10 thoughts on “Go Set a Watchman

  1. says:

    The best thing I can say about Go Set a Watchman is that no one will ever accuse it of being written by Truman Capote For those living in a cave Go Set a Watchman is a seuel to To Kill a Mockingbird the book that popularized the white people end racism narrative so maligned in The Help but still celebrated in To Kill a Mockingbird However it isn't exactly a seuel The alleged story is that Harper Lee wrote this book first and it was rejected by publishers These publishers were right Go Set a Watchman is a terrible book The book is difficult to review because it was never meant to be published Today it is of a historical document than a novel But this is Goodreads not Goodtexts and as a readable novel Go Set a Watchman fails miserably spoilers abound y'allThis initial effort by Harper Lee lacks the personality humor rich description and gift of dialog present in To Kill a Mockingbird Go Set a Watchman is in the same league as sub par YA fiction today Its 26 year old Jean Louise Scout Finch is incredibly selfish obnoxious and charmless ie in her twenties Plot is non existent Any attempts at humor fall flat The writing is often scattered and confusing slipping clumsily between 3rd and 1st person past and present tense And while a lack of continuity with Mockingbird is forgivable lack of continuity within the book itself is not Michiko Kakutani called the book lumpy the only comment on the actual writing in her non review Kakutani likely takes it easy on Lee because Lee had no agency in publishing this book and is probably being taken advantage of with its publication However she did write this book And as a result we are given this new insight into her thoughts and her writing It is hard to believe that someone could start with this incoherent amateur effort and craft the polished To Kill a Mockingbird in two years Lee must have had a hell of an editor for Mockingbird while this book clearly did not Here is the entire plot of Go Set a Watchman Jean Louise Scout Finch learns her father is not who she thought he was They argue She decides to accept him anyway The end Padding this out are flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks focusing on Scout as a child There is an anecdote about she and Jem her now dead brother and Dill which are much long winded and boring than the childhood tales in Mockingbird There is an anecdote about Scout's fake boobs being thrown by her high school boyfriend onto a billboard There is nothing that actually characterizes Atticus Finch The climax of the novel is the argument between Jean Louise and Atticus but not having the context of Mockingbird Atticus is a completely flat character We are only told how to feel about him then we are told to feel differently And while their conflict evolves from a difference in beliefs it is how they affect Scout not the ramifications of Atticus' beliefs that selfishly drive her motivation In present day context Go Set a Watchman works barely because we have To Kill a Mockingbird to characterize Atticus And just as Scout learns that her father isn't who she thought he was a child we as white readers learn that To Kill a Mockingbird isn't the book we thought it was when we were children Or the book that I gave it the benefit of the doubt when I read it last week This brings us to the historical document part of the review As To Kill a Mockingbird won a Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards this book's and the author's politics cannot be ignored Here is the basic political message of Go Set a Watchman Negroes are inferior to whites in every way but that doesn't mean they should be treated poorly The attitude of white superiority is evident in many ways in fact the characters state this point blank One is Jean Louise's disgusting comment to her uncle Jack that while she doesn't think black people should be treated poorly it's not like she'll marry a black man Without using the phrase jungle fever both characters talk about the myth that respectable whites would ever marry a black person It's only the trash who would do that and the trash will never have power anyway so interracial relationships are nothing to fear There is also Jean Louise's frustration at Calpurnia for talking black and not talking white Yes the scene is a little complicated than that as Jean Louise's true frustration is that Calpurnia is treating her Jean Louise like all the other uppity blacks treat respectable white folk but the foundation of this is that Negroes are backward and whites are superior White girl policing a black woman's dialect is also present in To Kill a MockingbirdThis hateful racism is concealed in To Kill a Mockingbird By regressing into the past with Mockingbird Lee's thinking appears to have progressed Casting the lead as a child gives a sense of learning and growth But with the lead as a young adult this confusion these mixed messages this baffling logic isn't cute any and the racism never is It is front and center in Go Set a Watchman because Watchman is set against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision on Brown vs Board of Education which ended segregation Mockingbird lives in a time of segregation and it is happy with that Although Jean Louise has a slightly progressive view than her father Atticus on the Negro dilemma both Atticus and Jean Louise actively despise the NAACAP and believe that the Federal Government has no right to tell the states what to do This was a volatile argument then and a volatile argument right this second regarding the Supreme Court's 2015 to legalize gay marriage It is interesting to see this point of view in a fictional context But the characters in this book are on the wrong side of history And Harper Lee while celebrated for being somewhat forward thinking in 1961 comes across as completely backwards here The only interesting part of this book is the climax the actual argument between Jean Louise and Atticus However the denouement ruins any impact this climactic battle may have had In it Jean Louise is slapped so violently by her uncle that her mouth bleeds She learns that as a young woman she should respect the beliefs of elder white men To not compromise with those who refuse to compromise Jean Louise is a bigot Her racist father her racist aunt are not bigots because they are right whites are superior to Negroes This is a frustrating argument that still exists today when religious fanatics who believe that their personal beliefs trump the human rights of others beg tolerance Your hate is not to be tolerated If any benefit comes from this book it is to show us that we as a society have not evolved as much as we should have in the last fifty years It's easy to forget that book was written in the 50s because you can imagine these arguments still happening today In its ending which is tragic yet not written as a tragedy Go Set a Watchman endorses undeserved tolerance and respect for hateful white people Jean Louise concedes to tolerate her hateful relatives and to respect them simply because they are white people of good breeding This book's politics are myopic at best hateful at worst Those hateful people and this book deserve no respect These people who believe hate in the name of religion or heritage or whatever reason hold back progress And young people who behave as Jean Louise does at the end of this book are complicit in it The fact that we still have these kinds of debates 60 years after this book was written proves it With these awful beliefs brought into stark relief Go Set a Watchman puts the ending of To Kill a Mockingbird into a different light In that book Atticus tells Scout Most people are real nice Scout when you finally see them This line almost serves as an omen for the conclusion to Go Set a Watchman Atticus is a terrible racist but he's a real nice racist so we should respect himNo Just as it's hard to believe that Lee evolved by leaps and bounds a writer in two years it's even less probable to believe that she evolved into a humanist in that short period of time either Many people on the Internet are shocked that Atticus Finch has changed In this way the book works The thing is Atticus hasn't actually changed He always had these racist beliefs But like Scout many readers are too blinded by their holy regard for him that they ignored it or didn't see it I too gave Atticus and Harper Lee the benefit of the doubt in To Kill a Mockingbird I shouldn't have The book's blurb says that Go Set a Watchman adds depth context and new meaning to an American classic Oh that it does It emphasizes the hateful racism of that novel Jean LouiseScout is a Mary Sue for Harper Lee who while progressive at the time is now stuck in the past And since Harper Lee by choice never published anything else she never showed us that her thinking evolved in any way over the last five decades She is a relic like the Confederate Flag to be preserved behind glass not to be revered but to show us where we came from and how far we still have to goUpdate 71415 A friend shared this excellent article about Tay Hohoff the editor who worked with Lee between Watchman and Mockingbird A fascinating story about a woman I had never heard of until yesterday I corrected my update from 712 There I confused Atticus and Uncle Jack in the jungle fever discussion Jean Louise assures Uncle Jack not Atticus that she'll never marry a Negro Racist patriarchs all look the sameUpdated 71215 to mention Jean Louise's and Atticus's comments on interracial relationships and other minor changes


  2. says:

    “Now think about this What would happen if all the Negroes in the South were suddenly given full civil rights? I’ll tell you There’d be another Reconstruction Would you want your state governments run by people who don’t know how to run ’em? Do you want this town run by—now wait a minute—Willoughby’s a crook we know that but do you know of any Negro who knows as much as Willoughby? Zeebo’d probably be Mayor of Maycomb Would you want someone of Zeebo’s capability to handle the town’s money? We’re outnumbered you know“Honey you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people You should know it you’ve seen it all your life They’ve made terrific progress in adapting themselves to white ways but they’re far from it yet They were coming along fine traveling at a rate they could absorb of ’em voting than ever before Then the NAACP stepped in with its fantastic demands and shoddy ideas of government—can you blame the South for resenting being told what to do about its own people by people who have no idea of its daily problems? I understand that there are a lot of controversy and conspiracy theories regarding the publication of this book and for good reasonI read To Kill a Mockingbird in 8th grade It was class reading I watched the movie starring Gregory Peck he of the patrician demeanor he who indubitably best portrayed the noble American icon that is Atticus Finch To tell you the truth I didn't really understand the book and what it symbolized then I was in 8th grade I had arrived in the US just a few years before My command of the English was good but as with all younger teens the symbolism of the book and its significance largely escaped me I lacked the analytical skills to truly understand what it meant what a landmark it was in terms of American history In 8th grade before reading this book our class studied American history We studied slavery the Civil War We studied the ugly past of racism and segregation We studied Martin Luther King As a newly arrived immigrant this should have made an impact on me but again I was so young that I didn't truly understand the significanceIt was only later on when I was older that I understood how important this book was and how remarkable the character of Atticus Finch was He and this book is an American institution A symbol of righteousness in a past filled with racial injustice A defender of the underdogWhich is why this book this seuel to the iconic To Kill a Mockingbird is such a disappointment If I must be honest it should never have been written for in this book the shining beacon that is Atticus Finch has been grossly tarnished He has now grown old bitter and racistYes I understand that people change We all do I understand that a good lawyer can present his case regardless of his beliefs but that's not the point The point is that Atticus Finch is such an outstanding figure that it feels wrong somehow to blacken his image No pun intendedI've seen comparisons to how this book is the most anticipated book since the release of Harry Potter Well what if JK Rowlings had released a seuel to Harry Potter in which Harry is an old grumpy man going through a mid life crisis leering at young girls at the gym cheating on his wife ignoring his children?Nobody would like that Some symbols are here to stay Some things are meant to remain the way they are Some things should remain pure The memory of To Kill a Mockingbird and that of Atticus Finch should be one of themI wish this book had been left to rot as an old forgotten manuscript in some long forgotten warehouse I want to remember Atticus Finch as a paragon Sometimes I want simplicity and I want bliss in ignorance She heard her father’s voice a tiny voice talking in the warm comfortable past Gentlemen if there’s one slogan in this world I believe it is this eual rights for all special privileges for noneThe one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge “He is a gentleman in his heart he is a gentleman” had betrayed her publicly grossly and shamelessly


  3. says:

    First let me say that this book IN NO WAY affected my opinion of To Kill A Mockingbird If anything it made me love it In my mind it is even of a masterpiece from having read it's predecessor or as Harper Lee herself described it the parent of Mockingbird And Harper Lee herself has lost no respect from meThe characters become even richer from seeing their future selves in Watchman There are scenes and dialogue here that showed up in her later effort She fleshed out some characters and limited others And forget the hype about Atticus being a racist He was a product of his times who thought that the South was not ready for complete euality of the races It was Alabama in 1955 for goodness sake He joined the Klan and went to a few meetings so he would know whose faces were under the hoods in order to limit the harm they could do All the newspaper articles about this book failed to mention that little detail Atticus is still Atticus but of a human being here less of a saint Jean Louise has grown up and like all kids in their 20's thinks she knows everything Dill and Jem make appearances via flashbacks and we see another side of CalpurniaWe should bow down in reverence to the editor who suggested to Lee that she tell the story from Scout's childhood perspective It was a brilliant idea Lee took the advice and Mockingbird was brought into existence as the book so many of us have loved all our lives This book if published then would never have achieved the fame and importance of MockingbirdTo finish I am so glad I read this book I was apprehensive at first because I didn't want this one to ruin my love for Mockingbird but as I said in the beginning it made me love it It just goes to prove how much readers invest in literary characters who can sometimes become real and influential that the people we actually live with


  4. says:

    2015 Goodreads Choice WinnerBest Fiction So I’m not going to lie I was pretty excited when I found out that this book was coming outI was even excited when it showed up at my house I know there is a whole controversy around this book but I just don’t buy it I believe the story that was told No I don’t want to argue with you about it No I don’t want you to tell me why you’re right No I am not going to try to change your mind on the matter So please don’t think you’ll change mineI had the wonderful experience of reading To Kill a Mockingbird reread while reading this one It is absolutely the best thing you could do Reading them together allowed me to see it as one full story arc rather than a book and its seuel It truly read like one book to me I always felt that TKAM was Atticus’ story I realize Scout is the one telling it but it felt like it was his story GSAW feels like Scout’s story Scout was always my favorite character from TKAM and perhaps that is why I enjoyed this one so much Scout is forced to face some harsh realities; realities that turn her world upside down The hardest part of growing up is realizing the world is nothing like what you thought it was I remember facing these realities myself and I remember the devastating blows it delivered But a man who has lived by truth—and you have believed in what he has lived—he does not leave you merely wary when he fails you he leaves you with nothing I think that is why I’m nearly out of my mind”I know there was a huge uproar about the change in Atticus Finch I don’t think it was a change I think it was there all along but that we were too blind to see it When Atticus defends Tom in TKAM he defends him because he knows him to be innocent of the charge of rape In all reality it has little to do about the color of Tom’s skin Atticus defended him for the sake of justice I still disagree with a lot of the claims that Atticus is a racist I think Atticus understood the bigger picture; that we are only capable to do so much only so often I can’t fault him too heavily for that The time period was different the mindset or collective conscious if you will was different I’m not saying it’s an excuse or a justification I’m just saying that sometimes the time and place of an event DO matter It’s easy for us to sit here today and point fingers while yelling “You’re wrong” The fact of the matter is this we can do what’s right most of the time and still be good people In fact it’s what most of us do Look a little deeper in your heart and you’ll know I am right Atticus is no different and THAT is precisely where everyone’s problem with this book seems to be It is hard for us to accept Atticus as a common person when we have held him on a pedestal in our hearts for so long As far as I am concerned he is still on that pedestal If anything I have a higher respect for him now than I ever did if only because he is now a flawed human being; his character realistic substantial Scout is coming to terms with these things in the only way she has ever come to terms with anything by throwing every ounce of her being into it She is passionate and relentless in her beliefs and I can only admire her for her voice She speaks those very harsh truths to whoever will listen and she does so loud enough for all of Maycomb County to hear Why doesn’t their flesh creep? How can they devoutly believe everything they hear in church and then say the things they do and listen to the things they hear without throwing up? I thought I was a Christian but I’m not I’m something else and I don’t know what”If you go into this looking for a seuel I think you will be disappointed If you go into it understanding that it is the whole story that has been there all the time I think you’ll enjoy it It opens the story up and gives us a greater understanding of TKAM We are reunited with characters we love so innately that we feel their anguish as if it were our own We get tales of Scout and Jem as the young and reckless pair they were The best thing you could do is read these two books together in hopes of seeing it as one It will be on my list of favorites and I can’t wait to reread it in the near future


  5. says:

    Review I think this uote really encapsulates both the tone of the book and peoples’ feelings when reading it The audience and Scout’s nostalgia for what once was is a large part of the experience with this To Kill a Mockingbird seuel Things change people change and the lens of our childhood perceptions can be clouded with a rose tint that turns out to be not so consistent with reality Fair warning is given to those dear readers who grew up—like Scout—to idolize Atticus “As you grew up when you were grown totally unknown to yourself you confused your father with God You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart and a man’s failings—I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see he makes so few mistakes but he makes ‘em like all of us You were an emotional cripple leaning on him getting the answers from him assuming that your answers would always be his answers” p 265 Go Set a Watchman has neither the uaint small town feeling or the spooky mystery of Boo Radley whose unexplained absence is suspect in itself; is he dead? and was he buried up the chimney?? Gone too is the middle grade tone though there are plenty of oddly placed flashbacks to parts of Scout and Jem’s teen yearsWe find Scout is fully grown and headstrong but is still terribly naïve which makes for many an explosive outburst She clashes most with her Aunt Alexandra mostly about such things as who she can marry; Alexandra tends to have a deluded vision of Scout as some kind of high society woman and thinks she is too good for “trash” like HankIt isn’t a perfect book It isn’t an entertaining book It isn’t even a necessary seuel I don’t know why it’s even been released other than to cash in on the success of the original The story is boring and meanders along with too many asides before ever making its point


  6. says:

    Atticus Finch as racist There it is Tough to swallow isn’t it? Atticus Finch the embodiment of decency brought to life in To Kill a Mockingbird widely considered one of the greatest novels in American literature magnificently brought to cinematic life by Gregory Peck in the film defender of the powerless dispenser of wisdom a hero to generations of readers and movie goers spouting opinions that do or should make most folks cringe Here are a few samples You realize that our Negro population is backward don’t you? You will concede that? You realize the full implications of the word ‘backward’ don’t you? If the scales were tipped over what would you have? The county won’t keep a full board of registrars because if the Negro vote edged out the white you’d have Negroes in every county office—I’d like my state to be left alone to keep house without advice from the NAACP which knows next to nothing about its business and cares less do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world? So what are we to make of this?First let’s step back from the this version versus that one controversy and consider the book on its own Jean Louise Finch JLF is returning to her home town for the fifth time since moving from Maycomb Alabama to New York City She sees the place where she grew up clearly this time than she ever had before She professes based on her experience of having been brought up with exposure to all sorts and having never been overtly taught to be a racist to be someone who is color blind That makes her uniue in Maycomb as everyone else has been very much aware of color all their lives What comes as the biggest shock for JLF is seeing that her sainted father a man everybody loves and other people she cares for despite their positive ualities hold views that are shocking JLF struggles to come to terms with this realization The crux of the story is how she deals with this While she is already physically an adult Jean Louise must cope with coming of age truths She realizes that when it comes to her appreciation for the people of Maycomb dad included she has been as Jem describes in Mockingbird “a caterpillar wrapped in a cocoon” The watchman of the title is taken from a biblical uotation Isaiah 216 and refers to conscience JLF tries to reconcile her conscience with what she now sees and realizes had been present all along She is anguished by her internal conflict With amazing memories of her childhood in this town it is a huge part of who she is In facing the possibility of rejecting her father and the place in which she became the person she is she is faced with rejecting a part of herself and that is the core conflict of the story Harper Lee from SmithsoniancomSet in a time when Brown vs the Board of Education had recently and unalterably changed the legal and social landscape many in the South perceived changes mandated by that decision as nothing less than another war of northern aggression One of the biggest strengths of the book is how it communicates the locals’ feelings about and arguments against Civil Rights and particularly the activities of the NAACP There is real insight here into the local psyche from a true local Another strength of the book is the clear voice of JLF Scout as a kid particularly in her recollections of a glowing childhood The voice of Scout will take you by the hand and lead you through It is the same voice that appears in Mockingbird warm familiar and welcome I enjoyed JLF’s relationship with her uncle Jack a character absent from Mockingbird Jack offers a perspective that is definitely homegrown but is also decorated with the baubles and gewgaws of an advanced education and unusual interests The affection between JLF and Jack is palpable Her interaction with Henry a friend since childhood was kludgy There are moments of real connection between the JLF and the young man who wants to marry her but so much of their conversation is peppered with excessive use of “honey” and “sweet” that it was distracting from the content of the interaction It felt forced The scenes in which JLF confronts Atticus are powerful and even upsetting but she lays into him without even asking what was up I do recognize that many people and particularly the young jump to conclusions but I wondered whether Scout who is portrayed as a pretty bright person would really be so close minded as to form an opinion particularly so strong an opinion based on unexamined evidence There is also some wonderful and playful use of language although the content reflects some of the very not 2015 politically correct zeitgeist of the era There are also beautiful passages that reflect the attachment Harper Lee through her avatar feels to her native soilThe political views on display are appalling paternalistic racist sexist homophobic and do reflect the attitudes of the time and place depicted I expect But it galls to have characters portray their dark views as accepted wisdom and have far too much of that accepted by a character who should know better In short as a stand alone there is much to like here including some strong characters a wonderful feel for place and a willingness to take on serious and controversial subject matter but there are plenty of flaws as well Go Set a Watchman is no classic Of course Go Set a Watchman would not have become the literary event of 2015 had it not shared DNA with a novel widely regarded as one of the best American novels ever written To Kill a Mockingbird And just in case you are newly arrived on our planet perhaps are recently thawed out from an extended cryogenic holiday or have just come to after a nasty crack on the head in 1960 Mockingbird recounts through the eyes of the grown up Scout a time when she was six years old and her father Atticus Finch was called on to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman It offers a view of a golden childhood and a principled father taking on the bigotry of a deep South town in service of justice and decency If you have not yet read it go scoot scram take a hike go find a copy and come back when you are done Ok read it? Good There has certainly been a lively reaction to Go Set a Watchman Would that reaction have been different if there had never been a Mockingbird baseline against which to compare this version of Atticus? That is something we can never know But it is helpful to think of To Kill a Mockingbird as the second and final version of Nelle Harper Lee’s Yes Harper is her middle name seminal novel Go Set a Watchman was Mockingbird 10 Harper Lee sold her book to the publisher JB Lippincott in 1957 But it was deemed not ready for prime time I do not know the specifics of what editorial direction Lee was given by her editor Tay Hohoff other than to focus on the time of Jean Louise's childhood Racism is taken on very powerfully in 10 There is less telling and showing in Mockingbird The childhood recollections here while wonderful do not occupy as much of the stage as they do in version 20 but you can certainly see how an editor might laser in on those as strengths to magnify when trying to improve the book And if one is then going to re set the primary stage to the time of Scout’s childhood it makes sense to make Atticus purely heroic In fact Mockingbird was intended to have been titled AtticusThere is danger of course that this original depiction of Atticus will forever tarnish the gleaming ideal of a man we admire so from Mockingbird Why splash racist graffiti over a cherished icon? Actually the racist element was there from the start in this 10 version It is instructive to see how Atticus evolved in the writer’s molding from the crusty first version to the graceful fine character that illuminates Lee’s ultimate masterpiece There is no need to overstate Atticus’s racism in Watchman In reviews and commentary some elements have been taken out of context and misrepresented The KKK thing for example Atticus states that his purpose in joining was to find out who was behind the masks not to further the organization’s agenda Another item pertains to a racist screed handed out by a lunatic and found by JLF in her father’s home Atticus agrees that the author is a nut and that he had been granted the right to speak at the town council as any other nut might have Atticus does not subscribe to the views in the pamphlet He subscribes to enough though to cause all who know where his character ends up in version 20 to take a large step back You can get a taste of that in the uotes at the top of this review It continues on with nastiness about the NAACP legalistic hogwash about SCOTUS violating the 10th Amendment a general sense of feeling under assault by outside forces and a paternalistic notion that all would be just fine if those northern rabble rousers would just let Negro advancement proceed at a measured pace This is crucial I believe to one of the strengths of Watchman While the views held by the residents of Maycomb as represented by Atticus Henry and others may not receive a universal welcome in 2015 I believe they do fairly represent the beliefs of most educated southern whites during this era The book might have been instructive to northerners had it been released in its original form as to the nature of the strident opposition the civil rights movement faced As such Watchman offers a valuable guide to a time and place where even folks most at the time would consider pretty decent like Atticus maintained views that while they remain widespread among some segments of our population today are now generally seen as abhorrent There are other interesting elements that come from a consideration of the novels set side by side What remains? What is lost? The courthouse where Scout watches Atticus heroically defend Tom Robinson in Mockingbird is a real place in Monroeville Alabama Lee’s birthplace In Watchman it is a scene of horror as Jean Louise sees a racist propound his views in a public forum in which her father and friend are principal players Calpurnia the Finch housekeeper in Mockingbird plays a major role in Watchman as well In one particularly chilling scene Jean Louise who had seen Cal as a nurturing force her entire life now wonders if Cal ever really cared for her or instead saw her only through a racial lens Dill her avatar for childhood pal Truman Capote is present in both novels but Boo Radley was added in Mockingbird Henry is gone from Mockingbird JLF’s brother Jem a major character in Mockingbird is much less of a presence in Watchman Go Set a Watchman may occupy a place in the shadow of what was to come but it does offer insight into the author her take on the world in the late 1950s and into her characters As a blood relation to one of the greatest books in American literature it is most definitely worth reading Published 71415Review – 72415EXTRA STUFFHarpercollins has made a FaceBook page for GSaWRobert McCrum’s review in The Guardian is uite informative Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee review – a literary curiosity A Charles Leerhsen article in the June 2010 Smithsonian is also worth a look Harper Lee’s Novel AchievementA nice bit of extra intel on Tay Hohoff Lee’s editor in this article by Emma Cueto on Bustlecom Harper Lee's First Editor Tay Hohoff Had A Lot To Do With Creating 'To Kill A Mockingbird' So Here's What You Should Know About Her The reading group guide is now available here21916 Nell Harper Lee passed away today her contribution will be live forever


  7. says:

    I am going to write a full review I think but oh this is not a novel and it was not ready for public consumption There is a faint glimmer of plot There IS something here but it is not coherent It is not robust This reads as notes toward something grand and that makes the book's current state that much a travesty


  8. says:

    Update 21916Rest in peace Scout feel I have to start off by pointing out that this isn’t really a true seuel to To Kill A Mockingbird and you are going to be nothing but disappointed if that's what you're looking for From what I understand this was the first draft of a book that Harper Lee submitted to her publisher in the late 50s Her editor wasn’t so sure about it and suggested Lee write a different version of the story and that feedback ultimately led to To Kill A Mockingbird I was excited to read this because To Kill A Mockingbird is absolutely and without a doubt my favorite book I was a reader long before I picked it up when I was 14 but it was the first book that made me stop and think about things like foreshadowing and character development It was the first book that genuinely moved me because I was so invested in the characters as something than just words on a page I know that's not a terribly uniue opinion To be honest it’s so beloved that I sometimes actually feel kind of cliché calling it my favorite So when this was announced I knew it was either going to be wonderful or just so so I suspected that it was going to be the latter given that Lee's editors initially sent her back to write a different version of the story but I wanted to hold out hope that there was something good there Also I just wanted to form my own opinion about it But I don't even know how to rate this because my feelings are so complicated and varied This is most definitely not a great book but it feels unfair to criticize something that was never properly molded into anything It's not a terrible book either but it’s kind of hard to look past its unsettling faults The truth is I think people are going to hate this but I also think a large part of that’s because people were expecting this book to be something that it just isn't and that's a seuel to To Kill A Mockingbird By now I think most people have at least read the headlines expressing horror that the Watchman version of Atticus is a segregationist The general consensus seems to be “How dare a work be published that challenges the lionized version of Atticus that America has come to embrace as its all time favorite hero?” The thing is though it's not the same guy in both books Not because people change with time or anything else like that that's already been written about in countless articles over the last few days But because when Watchman was written in 1957 the character Atticus Finch as we know and love him did not really exist yet There was a reason that the father in Go Set A Watchman held racist beliefs and it was so that Lee could tell a specific story and that happens to be a very different story than the one she eventually told in Mockingbird In this story it seems clear to me that Lee through the semi autobiographical voice of Scout wanted to find a way to come to terms with loving people who were Southern to the core while also realizing that there's much about the Southern Way of life that her new Northern peers found perplexing and distasteful I think I agree with my husband when he said to me that perhaps this should have been included as a supplement to a new version of Mockingbird released sometime down the road the kind of thing in which the author of the foreword of the afterword examines how the characters became something different I don't know Maybe this shouldn't have been published as a separate book but I think there's some small value in seeing how these characters transformed There's some references to things that ultimately got fleshed out in Mockingbird a few sentence summary of what eventually became Tom Robinson's trial though in this version Atticus won that case summers with Dill the colorful citizens of Maycomb I can totally see why an editor might zero in on these things and say to Harper Lee That's a better story Let's examine that instead I personally enjoyed the opportunity to see things from that perspective In the first half of the book there's a heavy sense of condemnation regarding the Southern way of life Scout's been living in New York for several years and is kind of disappointed to go back home and see her small town through a changed lens She remembers Atticus being polite to the black folks in town noting that he defended Tom Robinson despite potential damage to his reputation not because he wanted to save the black man but because he saw a blatant miscarriage of justice She thinks to herself I didn't grow up to be racist Someone taught me to not be a racist but how can it be the people in this small Alabama town who are saying really awful things about black people? How can it be my father who is sitting in meetings with men who so viciously hate black people?” I find this all very interesting because it’s still sixty years later a conversation that we’re having as a country in the wake of the tragedy at Charleston A lot of the things that shock Scout haven’t really gone away and as someone who grew up on the cusp of Appalachia I do find myself bristling at wholesale dismissals of people from the South as altogether Backwards and Racist Scout’s right; it’s a lot complex than that But Watchman doesn’t really make that argument very coherently Maybe it’s just not possible to make that argument coherently at allThe plot itself is messy and unformed but that's because this is a largely unedited version of a manuscript that was essentially rejected by the publisher in 1957 Well really it seems her editor saw potential and instructed her to go in a different direction but for all intents and purposes I see that as a rejection of the story being told here It’s really not all that bad if you remember that though it does make me appreciate the construction of Mockingbird all the There are some really lovely passages throughout this book and it gave me a lot to think about I think it's also really hard to wrap your brain around the intent here without the context of what was going on in Alabama in the late '50s – I certainly struggled with that myself If nothing else this book really made me want to go back and read every Harper Lee biography I can find in an attempt to get a clearer picture of what she was trying to do as a writer I just found myself wanting context Especially in the back half of the book when Lee’s point kind of becomes muddled I found myself completely uncertain as to what the takeaway of this book was supposed to be exactly You've got some Maycomb townspeople arguing “it’s not about racism it’s about state’s rights” and you've got some characters that seem to be saying “love the sinner not the sin Maybe it's just hard to see the point when today's racism looks so different?I’ve been thinking to some extent that the backlash against this book is a reaction to what seems to be a tearing down of the myth we've collectively built about Harper Lee She wrote this one maybe perfect book that's come to be seen as a bastion of racial tolerance and justiceand then this book comes along and muddies that to some extent because the views on race relations presented here are hardly cut and dried Lee herself may have had some conflicted feelings about race relations which shouldn’t be incredibly shocking given that she was a woman born in post Reconstruction Alabama and it may have been the influence of others that helped shape Mockingbird into a masterpiece I think it’s unfair to get mad at the publishers of Watchman over that It turns out Harper Lee is just a human but we do still have the masterpiece and this doesn’t change my love for that masterpiece at all Maybe it’s easy for me to say that because I never looked at race as the central tenet of Mockingbird It was there definitely but the most important part of the book to me had always been Scout’s coming of age and everything that came with it seeing her father fail learning the world could be ugly but also learning that scary things can be sources of love and redemption how important it is to climb into another man’s shoes and walk around in them In the book the movie differed in this regard I always saw the trial of Tom Robinson as the context for this the backdrop that steered the plot into a conflict that allowed a small girl in the South to learn these lessons I always thought Boo Radley did as much to teach Scout about tolerance as Atticus and Tom Robinson did and it’s the climax surrounding him that touched me way deeply than the climax that surrounded Tom and the Ewells I don’t think those lessons are in anyway under threat by the alternative universe that is Go Set A Watchman You can’t really look at this as a seuel that’s been directly informed by and is following up To Kill A Mockingbird if for no other reason than because in one version you’ve got child Scout learning that racism is this ugly thing that you don’t have to hold in your heart and in another version you’ve got adult Scout coming home and feeling dismayed that she never knew so many people she grew up with could be so racist and working hard to understand the psychology of the South One of the reasons this alternative universe is lacking in the magic of Mockingbird is definitely the absence of the precocious yet innocent point of view of young Scout Without that innocence the sense of possibility and hope are gone and what we’re left with is maybe a bit honest and definitely a lot cynicalI think this is worth reading as a study of how characters and plot and setting are informed by one another and I think this is worth reading so you can form your own opinions I don’t think this is worth reading if you are looking for something that is going to give you the same warm fuzzies as To Kill A Mockingbird or if you are worried that this is going to somehow tarnish your love for it Though for what it's worth I don’t think it should tarnish your love simply because it doesn’t give you a new extension to love farther If this book disappoints you I hope you can use that disappointment as a reminder of what was so great about the first one


  9. says:

    edit in the original review of this novel I gave it three stars after 24 hours of thinking about it I decided to upgrade it to four stars thus giving it the same rating that I gave to To Kill A MockingbirdThis book is the literary euivalent of those reunion episodes of Entertainment Tonight The whole cast of some old sitcom get together and you just spend the whole time thinking about how old everybody looks The basic plot of this new seuelpreuelfirst draft of To Kill A Mockingbird is that our beloved narrator Scout now Jean Louise is now in her twenties and returns from New York to visit her father Atticus in Maycomb However Atticus has changed in these years and now hold views and opinions that greatly upset Jean Louise That's basically itReading the first page of this novel you are immediately dropped into the familiar prose and voice of Lee's masterwork Maycomb is alive again in your hands The novel simmers along at a steady pace as Jean Louise reminisces about her childhood in the town and about her life now Then about half way through the plot turns as we discover about what Atticus has been up to Unless you have been living under a rock then you already know what I'm talking about but if you don't know then I'll tell you view spoilerHE'S A BIG OLE RACIST hide spoiler


  10. says:

    Praise the heavens Now there’s a second inexplicably overly popular novel that people who barely read two books a year can list as one of their favourite novels on their Goodreads Facebook and dating profiles And now there’s another inexplicably overly popular novel I have to ignore while the world fires missiles of contempt into my head bearing the inscriptions “But this is so POWERFUL It is about INJUSTICE and stuff You are an IDIOT for not reading this” Looking forward to not reading or rating any of your reviews of this one come June