Book 39 – Go Set A Watchman

“Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee (2015)

If you read the press leading up to the release of this novel, you, like me, might have been dubious about reading it at all. I felt sure Lee’s best interests were not protected in the decision to publish and made up my mind not to obtain it…

Then my old school friend, Jon, decided to save me the final decision by very kindly posting me a copy as a gift. Now I don’t feel so guilty about reading it, as I didn’t personally contribute to its profits.

Much has been written and said about this book. It is not, as is often cited, a sequel to “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Rather, it is the first draft of a novel that ended up becoming “To Kill A Mockingbird”.

The plot, or what there is of one, centres around adult Scout’s return to Maycomb for a holiday and her ‘discovery’ that Atticus is not the paragon of virtue with whom we all fell in love in “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Rather, he is a voice of reason and measure in complex, racially divided times. Anyone who tells you that this book reveals Atticus as a racist and a bigot hasn’t really read the book. It is perfectly logical that an adult daughter will see her hero-dad has, to varying degrees, feet of clay. So it goes.

The book is a messy lump of a novel, full of plot holes, voice change and weak textual integrity. So it should be. It was a first draft. A much better novel came from it. An old lady has been taken advantage of, and it is a sad state of affairs indeed.

Please don’t buy this book.

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1 Comment

Filed under Adult fiction, Uncategorized

One response to “Book 39 – Go Set A Watchman

  1. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure who’s taken advantage of who – reading the Wikipedia page on the subject, I think you could plausibly suggest she was bullied out of publishing this book and into writing an almost entirely different book in the first place. Which could perhaps explain why she never wrote another one. And that she may feel vindicated by the success of this one. Who knows. What I will say is that I could hardly put this book down. I accept that the criticisms may be justified, but I found it fun, moving, and a fascinating insight into the complex racial issues of the time. FYI – I also didn’t buy it, and probably wouldn’t have on the strength of similar reviews – it was a gift from my wife. But I’m less convinced that you shouldn’t buy it.

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