(Review) Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

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Publisher and Publication Date: HarperCollins, 2015.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 278.
Source: Library.
Rating: Very Good.

Amazon

Links of interest on Harper Lee. Her given name was Nelle Harper Lee (1926-2016).
Biography
Britannica
Harper Lee

Readers have remarked, Go Set A Watchman, was published without Harper Lee’s consent. According to what I’ve read online this is untrue. The story was written prior to the story, To Kill A Mockingbird, but was not accepted for publication. The publishers asked her to write a story centering on Scout as a child, and she began work on To Kill A Mockingbird. Go Set A Watchman rested in a safe-deposit box for years. The manuscript was found by her attorney and given to HarperCollins with Lee’s consent. The book was published in 2015.
I enjoyed reading the above links. A few questions were answered about her life. I love it that she didn’t care for fashion and the conventions of the culture of her era. She did not marry. She was close to her sister. She was educated, and lived in both New York City and Alabama. Despite how Truman Capote treated her, she forgave him and went on with life. She was an avid reader.
Go Set A Watchman set off strong reactions of angst and anger. I’ve heard some people say it is its own book, a stand alone story. I’ve heard some people remark they hate it, because of the dramatic difference in Atticus.
Go Set A Watchman is strongly related and it is the after story of To Kill A Mockingbird. I believe people reconcile by stating the two books are not a book 1 and 2. However, both books hold the same characters. Go Set A Watchman refers to the other story. They are apart of each other. However, they are different facets of the characters. And they show a different perspective. To Kill A Mockingbird is told through the eyes of a child. Go Set A Watchman is told through the eyes of a young woman.
As I have grown older, I have learned that life is messy and complicated. The reason is this is real life and not a fictional story. Another reason is people are messy and complicated. Further, we see in people what they choose to reveal and what our own maturity sees. I have been married 35 years. I do not know everything about my husband. I know what he has told me and what I have seen. People do not know another person’s heart unless they share through their voice or it is displayed in their life. I’ve known some people, usually older, who reveal a hidden secret. No other person knew of this secret, they’d held on to this secret deep in their heart. I say all this to state my point: Scout, who is known in Go Set A Watchman as Jean Louise, finds out things about her father, childhood friend, and town that is NOT what she’d remembered as a child. What she thought she knew about them is not true or incomplete. She feels betrayed and angry. She has been stripped of innocence. Another way of looking at this is she has finally grown up.
To Kill A Mockingbird is a magical story. Not a fantasy fiction magic story. It is a story that speaks to any age or generation of people. It is a nostalgic story. It’s a classic. And it used to be required reading in high school!
Go Set A Watchman does not hold the same feelings and thoughts as the more beloved book. It is a book that causes discussion. It is a great book for a book club. It is a book that can be dissected and read for its own merit.
Both books were written in the 1950s. This was a pivotal point in Civil Rights. People’s views began to change. It was a long labor intensive fight. It reminds me of a woman who is in labor. The labor is necessary to bring about birth.
My parents were born in the 1920s. Their perspective was radically different from mine. My dad came around quickly to believing in Civil Rights. My mother never did. I still loved my mother, I just disagreed with her.
I’m glad I read Go Set A Watchman. I’m glad to read it through the lens and maturity of my age, 54.

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2 thoughts on “(Review) Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

  1. Great review! The books are so different from one another. I think I will always prefer To Kill A Mockingbird. But I don’t regret reading Go Set a Watchman at all. I think expectations can be tricky, tricky things.

    Liked by 1 person

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