Saturday, August 29, 2015

Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee

Go Set a WatchmanFrom 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.

I went into this book with a lot of expectations since I had followed a lot of the hubbub surrounding it's publishing. 

Is it the book that TKMB is?  No, of course not.  It was a first draft that was pretty completely reworked to create TKMB. And, as that, it is a worthwhile read.
Is Atticus a racist?  You know, this is probably what I heard the most about prior to reading - that Atticus does a complete 180 and becomes a racist.  And I really didn't find that to be the case.  Perhaps because I expected to read about him parading around in a white sheet.  Instead, I see him more as a man who is trying to deal with the changing times the best way he knows how given his background and society at the time.  Were some of his actions disappointing?  Yes.  But I think that's because this book shows him as human with flaws and making mistakes in a way that TKMB never did.  And I appreciate that because it also shows a lot about the character of Jean Louise. 

It wasn't spectacular, but I'm glad I read it.

  • a look at Scout all grown up
  • an interesting perspective on how Lee's writing changed
  • a realistic picture of the times
  • flawed characters
  • I think some of the media surrounding the book will drive some people away from reading it
  • I really wasn't fond of grown up Scout

Rating:  2.5/5