Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set A WatchmanWhat’s it about?

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch – ‘Scout’ – returns home from New York City to visit her ageing 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 painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past – a journey that can be guided only by one’s own conscience.

My thoughts

To Kill a Mockingbird has been an all time favourite book of mine since reading in school 20+ years ago and is still the only book I’ve ever read several times since. I’ve seen the Gregory Peck movie and a stage play so you could say I love it!  So it was kind of out of the blue some 50 odd years later along comes a ‘sequel’ and I use that term lightly. I was intrigued but I waited for all the hype to die down, I’d seen snippets and comments but avoided detailed reviews.

It’s difficult to really tell you anything about this book without spoilers as there’s a lack of any real plot for 75% of the book which makes for a long drawn out read. Lots of padding and not a fat lot going on in my humble opinion. I can totally see how critics have labelled it as a first draft for Mockingbird or even as a companion.

We do revisit with most of the original characters; Jean Louise (Scout) is older, Calpurnia makes a cameo appearance towards the end, Dill is mentioned fleetingly, Henry Clinton is  a main player now as her suitor and Atticus; he’s old with crippling arthritis in his hands so is left with his sister Alexandra to care for him.

This really is what happened when Scout grew up and returns to visit Atticus so is more of a coming of age novel in that sense. While it seems to Scout that the rest of the world is moving forward, Maycomb’s views are still very firmly stuck in the past which she really struggles with.  It’s very hard reading this book and marrying up the Atticus in TKAM to Atticus in this book as there are conflicting beliefs…I’m not surprised Scout is torn because as reader you are as well.

In a nutshell, the last quarter of the book has Scout finally realising that she doesn’t hold the same views as her father and she has a bit of a wake up call that he is no longer the person, the hero figure, she thought him to be.

It was a 3* read for me, I was too curious to read it despite all the criticism it received but I shouldn’t have got sucked into the hype and would have preferred to remember all the characters as they were originally.

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Jera's Jamboree/Talk of the Town
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4 thoughts on “Book Review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

  1. shazjera says:

    I know I said on Twitter earlier Lindsay but it is frustrating when you wish you could keep the memory of the characters as they were. The up side is you would never have known how you felt …

    Thank you for linking with #TalkoftheTown

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Clare Thomson says:

    I haven’t read Go Set a Watchman yet. I too, have been put off by the hype. To me it just smacked of publishers trying to cash in on a book that is on so many people’s list of favourite books ever. I think I will read it one day though but as it’s been a very long time since I read To Kill a Mockingbird. I hope it won’t spoil my views of the original characters too much. Perhaps then I’ll pick up the first book again. I’m looking forward to sharing that with my two boys although still not sure when is the perfect age for a first read.
    #TalkoftheTown
    Clare (currently re-reading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility which is utter joy)

    Liked by 1 person

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