Go set a watchman- Harper Lee   Leave a comment

I was keen to read this novel, after all of the attention it had received in the press. I loved ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, having read it several times, appreciating it more as I grew older and more aware of the racial background it spoke of.

Harper Lee, on whom Scout, the character is based, only wrote these 2 books. She based ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ on observations of her friends and family, and an event which occured in 1936 when she was 10 years old. She attempted to describe the narrow adult attitudes towards race and class which she was surrounded with, through the eyes of a young child. She received awards for the book. In 2015 she released ‘Go Set a Watchman’ as the ‘sequel’, written during the 1950s. It was later revealed to be the first draft of ‘Mockingbird’.

I was intrigued by the title, which references Isa 21v6, and refers to Atticus Finch, whom Scout saw as the moral compass of Maycomb. The book is set when Scout is 26. She now lives in New York and is now referred to by her full name of Jean Louise. The novel is set during her annual 2 week trip home to Maycomb. She becomes disillusioned with her father, as she sees him no longer as the ‘perfect man’, but a flawed person struggling to deal with racial tensions.

The novel caused a lot of controversy. The fact that it was wrongly released as a sequel and not first draft was criticised strongly. In addition, many people expressed concern at the timing of the publication: a mere 2 months following the death of Lee’s sister, Alice, who had been her caregiver for many years. One family friend claimed that Lee is almost blind and deaf, wheelchair bound and suffering dementia, and that she would sign anything, now that her sister had gone. Regardless, the novel broke all records for sales on the first day.

Personally, I was disappointed by the book, although I imagine it will be a fascinating source to use when studying ‘Mockingbird’. I did not relish removing Atticus Finch from the pedestal I and Scout had put him on. Although, the story was more mature and rounded, I missed the innocence of the child’s eye view. Give me Mockingbird anyday!


Posted September 19, 2017 by dianne7 in book review

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