Book Review

July '15

Go Set a Watchman (Hardcover)
Harper Lee

This much anticipated book was published July 14, 2105.

Go Set a Watchman is the book Harper Lee originally wrote in the 1950's.  At the time, her editor asked her to change the narrative point of view of the book from a rebellious adult Jean Louise to a youthful Scout. Quite a few changes were made, and then two years later, To Kill a Mockingbird was published.   Mockingbird is a classic, it's taught in English classes everywhere, we have multiple copies of the book at the library, continuously.

So, what's all the fuss about this "new" old book?

The manuscript for Go Set a Watchman was recently found in a safety deposit box, and with the author's permission, published.  The characters in Watchman are not the same as they were in Mockingbird, and people are rattled!  

I've read Go Set a Watchman, and I enjoyed it. It's not the best book I ever read, I don't think it's going to become a classic, but I enjoyed it.  I wish people would read it as a stand alone book, and not get involved in their feelings about how different it is from Mockingbird.  Watchman is set in the mid 50's, twenty years later than the depression era Mockingbird.  Racial tensions are high, especially in the south. In Mockingbird, Scout's father Atticus Finch takes on a case involving a black man, and evenhandly, makes sure justice is done.  In Watchman, Scout is referred to by her real name Jean Louise, and many characters from Mockingbird that supported young Scout are missing from Jean Louise's life. She is horrified to hear her father Atticus, and her boyfriend Hank supporting segregationist propaganda and deriding the efforts of the NAACP.  

In reading Watchman, you can understand why Lee's editor had her change her narrative point of view.  In reading Watchman, you will also be reading an interesting book that represents a perspective that, although reprehensible now, was perhaps not so unusual for a white southern man in the 1950's.

A worthwhile read, I recommend it.  I think discussing both Mockingbird and Watchman together would make great book club discussion.