Go Set A Watchman: Yea or Nea?

This is a preliminary post for the novel Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee.  I have not read the book, nor have I given much attention to what I’ve read in reviews in terms of it’s how it lives up to it’s predecessor, To Kill A Mockingbird.  The following will contain mild spoilers – as I said I haven’t read the book, this is just information gathered from various review articles.  But this post is more of a ‘will I? won’t I?’ sort.

To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favourite books – I’ve read my sister’s copy three times but it’s one of those books that you really need to own, so, last week, I finally said, why not? and bought my own copy.  Identical to my sisters. I was torn between getting a paperback or a hardback but I opted for paperback.  Sometimes paperbacks are the best options for a book that is loved.

To get back on track…

One of my favourite books.  But I never really looked into the history of it, or it’s influence.  I loved the story and the relationships in the book.  I loved Atticus Finch.  I thought he was one of the coolest fictional dads/lawyers I’d ever encountered.  What I never realised was how influential he was for the civil rights movement.  In 2003, he was named one of the most influential figures of all time (sic).

But why am I talking so much about a character from a book that this blog post isn’t about?

Because in the ‘sequel’, Go Set A Watchman, Atticus Finch is a racist.  The man who, in Scout’s childhood, defended a black man in a trial and was threatened for doing so; who went to great lengths to defend this man and his family, not just legally but their lives as well, is now, in Scout’s adulthood, going to KKK meetings and denounces desegregation.

You’re probably wondering why I have sequel in quotation marks.  Go Set a Watchman was written before To Kill A Mockingbird, was supposed to be published before Mockingbird was ever conceived.  But Lee’s publisher thought that a better story would be Scout’s childhood, instead of as an adult.  So Lee began Mockingbird and Watchman was forgotten about.  Until now.

Although, the two novels have the same characters and are coming from the same place and person, I really don’t think that they should be taken as a pair.  I think it’s important to remember that, initially, Mockingbird  came from Watchman and that, perhaps, they’re not intertwined.

Or maybe I’m completely wrong.

Of course I’m going to read this book.  But I’m going to go into it with a pinch of salt.  I’m going to begin it with the point of view that it is  a different entity from Mockingbird and hope that somewhere in there there is a really interesting and cleverly conceived way of connecting the two books. I’m really looking forward to seeing Lee’s initial approach to the subject matter and how she dealt with it.

And, of course, I shall be ever comparing it to Mockingbird in terms of writing and approach.

I’ll update a review as soon as I’ve read the book – but since I’m number 9 on the request list, I don’t really see that happening any time soon.



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