Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman

3.8 443
by Harper Lee

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From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights


From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging 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 only be guided by one’s own conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer under- standing and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.

Editorial Reviews

B&N Reads
The publication of Go Set a Watchman was one of the most exciting and unexpected literary events in recent memory. Now that we’ve all had a chance to digest a novel we never thought we’d get to read, we’re ruminating on a few of its most powerful and memorable moments. Warning: spoilers throughout. Read More
Denver Post
“[Go Set a Watchman is a] brilliant book that ruthlessly examines race relations
New York Times Opinion Pages: Taking Note
Go Set a Watchman is such an important book, perhaps the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades…
NPR's "Code Switch"
“In this powerful newly published story about the Finch family, Lee presents a wider window into the white Southern heart, and tells us it is finally time for us all to shatter the false gods of the past and be free.”
Buffalo News
“[Go Set a Watchman is] filled with the evocative language, realistic dialogue and sense of place that partially explains what made Mockingbird so beloved.”
Los Angeles Times
“Don’t let ‘Go Set a Watchman’ change the way you think about Atticus Finch…the hard truth is that a man such as Atticus, born barely a decade after Reconstruction to a family of Southern gentry, would have had a complicated and tortuous history with race.”
Wall Street Journal
“[Go Set a Watchman] contains the familiar pleasures of Ms. Lee’s writing- the easy, drawling rhythms, the flashes of insouciant humor, the love of anecdote.”
Washington Post
“A significant aspect of this novel is that it asks us to see Atticus now not merely as a hero, a god, but as a flesh-and-blood man with shortcomings and moral failing, enabling us to see ourselves for all our complexities and contradictions.”
“The success of Go Set a Watchman... lies both in its depiction of Jean Louise reckoning with her father’s beliefs, and in the manner by which it integrates those beliefs into the Atticus we know.”
San Francisco Chronicle
Go Set a Watchman’s greatest asset may be its role in sparking frank discussion about America’s woeful track record when it comes to racial equality.”
Chicago Tribune
“What makes Go Set a Watchman memorable is its sophisticated and even prescient view of the long march for racial justice. Remarkably, a novel written that long ago has a lot to say about our current struggles with race and inequality.”
Columbus Dispatch
“[Go Set a Watchman] captures some of the same small-town Southern humor and preoccupation with America’s great struggle: race.”
Vanity Fair
Go Set a Watchman’s gorgeous opening is better than we could have expected.”
The Guardian
Go Set a Watchman is more complex than Harper Lee’s original classic. A satisfying novel… it is, in most respects, a new work, and a pleasure, revelation and genuine literary event.”
“Lee’s ability with description is evident… with long sentences beautifully rendered and evoking a world long lost to history, but welcoming all the same.”
The Independent
“A coming-of-age novel in which Scout becomes her own woman…Go Set a Watchman’s voice is beguiling and distinctive, and reminiscent of Mockingbird. (It) can’t be dismissed as literary scraps from Lee’s imagination. It has too much integrity for that.”
USA Today
Go Set a Watchman provides valuable insight into the generous, complex mind of one of America’s most important authors.”
New York Post
“Atticus’ complexity makes Go Set a Watchman worth reading. With Mockingbird, Harper Lee made us question what we know and who we think we are. Go Set a Watchman continues in this noble literary tradition.”
“A deftly written tale… there’s something undeniably comforting and familiar about sinking into Lee’s prose once again.”
“One overarching theme that many critics have zeroed in on is that there is a lot to learn from the novel, as both a writer and a reader.”
Daily Beast
“As Faulkner said, the only good stories are the ones about the human heart in conflict with itself. And that’s a pretty good summation of Go Set a Watchman.”
Bloomberg View
Go Set a Watchman offers a rich and complex story… To make the novel about pinning the right label on Atticus is to miss the point.”
The Barnes & Noble Review

Now that the brouhaha from the publication of Go Set a Watchman has quieted, we are left, like Maycomb's citizens, to examine society's rough judgment. In no particular order, we've heard the following: that the book is a rough first draft of Mockingbird. That it's our first taste of an adult Scout or a shockingly racist Atticus. That it's an odious money-grab on the part of its publishers, since Lee herself vowed to never write another book — and, now deaf and nearly blind in a nursing home, Lee hasn't sanctioned its publication. That the discussion of race lacks the subtlety and strength of the original, and, most important, parents who've named their children after Atticus have to rethink the whole thing.

Some of these are opinions, and some are mistaken. (Search "the Jane Austen of southern Alabama" for Harper's subsequent writing efforts — and read Mockingbird itself to see that it is entirely from the point of view of the adult Scout, looking back.) They show we have not paid a great deal of attention to Mockingbird — or to Watchman, either. Because Watchman is not a failed race novel or a rough draft of Mockingbird. It's a novel about Jean Louise becoming a woman and a sexual being.

In the novel's most vivid and brilliant chapters, the childhood Jean Louise gets her period, a teen Jean Louise unsuccessfully stuffs her (nonexistent) bra, and her adult self fumbles with the idea of marrying childhood beau Henry Clinton. That Jean Louise, just off the train and being driven home by Henry, coldly rejects his proposal at the prospect of "another shabby little affair ... la the Birmingham country club set" amid the "latest Westinghouse appliances."

Jean Louise's adult self is as cosmopolitan as her childhood self is ignorant. In this book, the dramatic crisis comes when Jean Louise's falsies wind up on a billboard honoring WWII veterans from the high school. (By way of boyfriend Henry Clinton, Atticus saves her from conviction.) In a more disturbing section, when a sixth-grade classmate gets pregnant by her father, Jean Louise, who has recently begun to menstruate, thinks she can become pregnant by a classmate who's forced a kiss on her. A brutal year passes, at the close of which she attempts suicide. She is only narrowly saved by Henry.

Slowly and deliberately Calpurnia told her the simple story. As Jean Louise listened, her year's recollection of revolting information fell into a fresh crystal design; as Calpurnia's husky voice drove out her year's accumulation of terror, Jean Louise felt life return. She breathed deeply and felt cool autumn in her throat. She heard sausages hissing in the kitchen, saw her brother's collection of sports magazines on the living room table, smelled the bittersweet odor of Calpurnia's hairdressing.
When Aunt Alexandra — whose milk glass collection, Jean Louise tells us, is a signifier of a woman who "despises men and thrives out of their presence" — throws Jean Louise a much-feared Coffee, her social gathering of the town's women, we are treated to a stunning chapter worthy of The Group (with notes of Peyton Place). Like an anthropologist, Jean Louise is the silent recipient of the idle chatter that codifies the world of Maycomb's women: "When Jerry was two months old he looked up at me and said . . . toilet training should really begin with . . . he was christened he grabbed Mr. Stone by the hair and Mr. Stone . . . wets the bed now."

Jean Louise's breasts come up again — literally — when she scandalizes the town by swimming fully clothed with Henry in the river. The gossip has Henry and Jean Louise skinny-dipping. This, like her childhood scrapes, Aunt Alexandra finds horrifying, Atticus amusing. "I hope you weren't doing the backstroke," Atticus notes wryly.

Atticus's sense of humor in that moment is much closer to the one we find in Mockingbird, but much of the hoopla over Atticus's racism may have stemmed from a misunderstanding of Mockingbird's take on race in the first place. I'm far from the first to make this observation, but for a novel that purports to be about racial tensions, most of the action in Mockingbird happens between white people. Mockingbird takes place during the boom of historically black colleges and Negro secondary schools, one in which black educators and intellectuals fanned out across the South to create an educated middle class in the midst of segregation and unchecked violence. But Calpurnia's "white" voice, it seems, is mostly learned from her proximity to white people, and her humanity is shown through her love of Scout and Jem.

The same is true of Maycomb's black community, whose humanity is evidenced mostly through their deference to white people. (Readers may note the irony in the fact that, in a book published in 1960, Maycomb's black citizens seem always to be getting up and giving the Finch children seats.) We never know how Tom feels about being stuck in a jail with only a child and lawyer between him and a lynch mob — I can't imagine heading securely off to sleep at Atticus's assurance, myself — and we'll never know how Dolphus Raymond's partner feels about the fact that he must pretend he's drunk in public to be with her. Add Lee writing about Scout breathing in "the warm bittersweet smell of clean Negro," or admiring Tom as a "black-velvet Negro, not shiny, but soft black velvet," you see that while Go Set a Watchman is controversial for some, Mockingbird was always pretty controversial for others. (I'm still waiting for the book in which a white character is introduced by his or her color and smell.)

Despite the official story, it's unlikely that Watchman is a first draft of Mockingbird. It's an entirely different book, in time period, point-of-view, and plot. (Save a few should-be- stricken scenes dropped in whole cloth from the classic.) Many reviewers have noted the oddity of Watchman's assuming readers will have such familiarity with a cast of characters we've never met before, or that Mockingbird was born of a scant two paragraphs mentioning Atticus's famous case.

Instead, Go Set a Watchman reads more like a companion book, even simultaneous draft, one in which Lee shows she's aware of a black community that attends Tuskegee and, in Uncle Jack's speeches, finds an ugly, quasi-intellectual racism closer to home. As a character, Henry Clinton gives voice to the "trash" cursorily dismissed by Atticus in Mockingbird — but as a love interest, Reader: thank God she doesn't marry him. If it's true that editor Alice Tayoff gently steered Lee into Mockingbird, I think Lee could have produced something as vibrant and interesting here, but these sections as they exist are clumsy and underworked — probably of more use to scholars and interested parties than to the devoted Lee fan.

That is not true, however, of the nearly half of the book that comprises Jean Louise's growth from Scout to a woman. Among Coffees, falsies, and the codes of southern womanhood, this book finds its truest thread. I want to see more of the post-WWII social stratum of families with their Mixmasters and matchbox houses, more of Jean Louise's life in New York, where she does not date but goes to the Artist's League to paint at night. In Aunt Alexandra's Coffee, we find an antihero that unseats Atticus. There's another novel in the ruination Jean Louise visits upon southern femininity, in what happens when she descends from the balcony below which Atticus and the townsmen talk. Mockingbird took us into the world through the eyes of a child, but Lee might have had it in her to write a classic about the education of a woman.

Lizzie Skurnick is the author of Shelf Discovery: The Teen Classics We Never Stopped Reading. She lives in Jersey City.

Reviewer: Lizzie Skurnick

Publishers Weekly
Reviewed by Louisa ErmelinoThe editor who rejected Lee's first effort had the right idea. The novel the world has been waiting for is clearly the work of a novice, with poor characterization (how did the beloved Scout grow up to be such a preachy bore, even as she serves as the book's moral compass?), lengthy exposition, and ultimately not much story, unless you consider Scout thinking she's pregnant because she was French-kissed or her losing her falsies at the school dance compelling. The book opens in the 1950s with Jean Louise, a grown-up 26-year-old Scout, returning to Maycomb from New York, where she's been living as an independent woman. Jean Louise is there to see Atticus, now in his seventies and debilitated by arthritis. She arrives in a town bristling from the NAACP's actions to desegregate the schools. Her aunt Zandra, the classic Southern gentlewoman, berates Jean Louise for wearing slacks and for considering her longtime friend and Atticus protégé Henry Clinton as a potential husband—Zandra dubs him trash. But the crux of the book is that Atticus and Henry are racist, as is everyone else in Jean Louise's old life (even her childhood caretaker, Calpurnia, sees the white folks as the enemy). The presentation of the South pushing back against the dictates of the Federal government, utilizing characters from a book that was about justice prevailing in the South through the efforts of an unambiguous hero, is a worthy endeavor. Lee just doesn't do the job with any aplomb. The theme of the book is basically about not being able to go home again, as Jean Louise sums it up in her confrontation with Atticus: "there's no place for me anymore in Maycomb, and I'll never be entirely at home anywhere else." As a picture of the desegregating South, the novel is interesting but heavy-handed, with harsh language and rough sentiments: "Do you want them in our world?" Atticus asks his daughter. The temptation to publish another Lee novel was undoubtedly great, but it's a little like finding out there's no Santa Claus.
Library Journal
As every reader knows, Lee's second novel, from which her iconic To Kill a Mockingbird was spun 55 years ago, has just been published by Harper with considerable excitement and some still-shifting uncertainty, as reported by the New York Times, about how the manuscript was rediscovered. Lee's original work has feisty 26-year-old Jean Louise Finch, nicknamed Scout as a child and the basis for Mockingbird's beloved heroine, returning home from New York to Maycomb Junction, AL, post-Brown v. Board of Education and encountering strongly resistant states'-rights, anti-integrationist forces that include boyfriend Henry and, significantly, her father, Atticus Finch, Mockingbird's moral center. Readers shocked by that revelation must remember that there are now two Atticus Finches; the work in hand is not a sequel but served as source material for Lee's eventual Pulitzer Prize winner, with such reworked characters a natural part of the writing and editing processes. Even if one can imagine that the seeds of the older Atticus are there in the younger Atticus—and that's possible—these are different characters and different books. More significantly, the current work stands as you-are-there documentation of a specific time and place, contextualizing both Mockingbird and the very beginnings of the civil rights movement, and for that reason alone it's invaluable and recommended reading. Mockingbird's Atticus was right for 1960, just after the Little Rock integration crisis, with his defense of a wrongly accused African American making him a moral beacon and a lesson for all. Yet for many readers, even those who love and admire Mockingbird, it also smacked of white self-congratulation, and the current book is a rawer, more authentic representation of Southern sentiment at a tumultuous time, years removed from the solidly (and safely) segregationist era of Mockingbird. If Watchman is occasionally digressive or a bit much of a lecture, it's good enough to make one wish that Lee had written a dozen works. It's also a breathtaking read that will have the reader actively engaged and arguing with every character, including Jean Louise. In the end, despite Jean Louise's powerful articulation that the court had to rule as it did, that "we [whites] deserve everything we've gotten from the NAACP," and that Negroes (as the novel says) will rise and should rise, it's unsettling and, yes, disappointing that the confrontation between Jean Louise and Atticus is ultimately an engineered effort to make her stand up for herself and stop worshipping her father. That's not quite believable, and what's right gets a little lost in states' rights, which Jean Louise herself supports. At least she doesn't run back to New York, but did she really win her argument? The ugly things she hears around her are still being said today. VERDICT Disturbing, important, and not to be compared with Mockingbird; this book is its own signal work.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
Kirkus Reviews
The long-awaited, much-discussed sequel that might have been a prequel—and that makes tolerably good company for its classic predecessor. It's not To Kill a Mockingbird, and it too often reads like a first draft, but Lee's story nonetheless has weight and gravity. Scout—that is, Miss Jean Louise Finch—has been living in New York for years. As the story opens, she's on the way back to Maycomb, Alabama, wearing "gray slacks, a black sleeveless blouse, white socks, and loafers," an outfit calculated to offend her prim and proper aunt. The time is pre-Kennedy; in an early sighting, Atticus Finch, square-jawed crusader for justice, is glaring at a book about Alger Hiss. But is Atticus really on the side of justice? As Scout wanders from porch to porch and parlor to parlor on both the black and white sides of the tracks, she hears stories that complicate her—and our—understanding of her father. To modern eyes, Atticus harbors racist sentiments: "Jean Louise," he says in one exchange, "Have you ever considered that you can't have a set of backward people living among people advanced in one kind of civilization and have a social Arcadia?" Though Scout is shocked by Atticus' pronouncements that African-Americans are not yet prepared to enjoy full civil rights, her father is far less a Strom Thurmond-school segregationist than an old-school conservative of evolving views, "a healthy old man with a constitutional mistrust of paternalism and government in large doses," as her uncle puts it. Perhaps the real revelation is that Scout is sometimes unpleasant and often unpleasantly confrontational, as a young person among oldsters can be. Lee, who is plainly on the side of equality, writes of class, religion, and race, but most affectingly of the clash of generations and traditions, with an Atticus tolerant and approving of Scout's reformist ways: "I certainly hoped a daughter of mine'd hold her ground for what she thinks is right—stand up to me first of all." It's not To Kill a Mockingbird, yes, but it's very much worth reading.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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5.32(w) x 7.98(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She is the author of the acclaimed To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman, which became a phenomenal #1 New York Times bestseller when it was published in July 2015. Ms. Lee received the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and numerous other literary awards and honors. She died on February 19, 2016.

Brief Biography

Monroeville, Alabama
Date of Birth:
April 28, 1926
Date of Death:
February 19, 2016
Place of Birth:
Monroeville, Alabama
Place of Death:
Monroeville, Alabama

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Go Set a Watchman 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 443 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Watchman is how it is, Mockingbird is how you would hope it would be. Both capture our long history of shame and hope. Buzzy Wyland
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a shame she only wrote the two books. I enjoyed Watchman almost as much as Mockingbird. There are some suprises in store, but the characters are still vibrant, albiet slightly more human. She can make you laugh, cry and mad all at the same time. I found it well paced and easy to read. Scout is still Scout, and yes Atticus is still Atticus, having said this though I think the publisher was right, Mockingbird was superior and a better fit for the time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very good. It conveys messages of love and forgiveness. I would recommend this book anyday. It helped me better understand To Kill A Mockingbird even better.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This highly anticipated book is nothing more than a greedy money grab by the publishers, lawyers and agents. I am skeptical that this book was entirely written by Lee. It appears to be the result of an unfinished manuscript that has been highly edited to create a buzz around a forced political agenda. In her orginal novel the memorable characters were created through subtle language and the innocence of a child. This novel is full of endless tirades, tedious dialouges and references that are meaningless to the plot. I feel that Miss Lee has been the victim of greedy people that do not care about her legacy. Maybe the Atticus of Mockingbird could answer the question where has integrity gone?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book as much as her first and I am glad I took the day off simply to read it. It was very dramatic and really kind of opened my mind! I hate the fact that this probably will not be allowed in schools because this was marvelous read just as To Kill A Mockingbird.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With TKAM as one of my favorite books, I had high hopes for GSAW. My hopes were completely shattered. It's as if Harper Lee was just brainstorming character stories and race plots to better prepare for the second book (Mockingbird.) Nothing lined up with Mockingbird. Jem died (and we're not going to even talk about it?), there's a childhood friend we've never heard of, and where's Boo Radley? Not to mention, the entire Tom Robinson court case plot line is completely changed. Part of me feels like Lee wasn't even the author and if she truly was, I hate that this was published and "ruined" (for lack of a better word) her legacy. Just read and reread Mockingbird and let's forget Watchman ever existed. (Like I believe Harper Lee wanted it. )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book is better than the critics seem to think.
Penny Hoene More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I ever read. Atticus is not a racist; he is a bigot, but then again - everyone is a bigot. If you think about this word in depth, then you will realize that everyone is a bigot. Scout lived her whole life under the opinion her father had no flaws. Yet he had profound wisdom.... Scout reiterates what she heard from him and is angered by his state at the Council Meeiing; he states "Equal rights for all; special privileges for none" He expains himself and it is all taken out of context, because Voting is a priviledge and one needs to be fully responsible of citizenship, and he felt that the vast majority who were voting at the moment, had no full understanding of the implications it had, due to lack of education. Altough 75% were black, this wasn't the issue; it was the lack of education and understanding in the law, and that the 10th Amendment was being overstepped. He complained that they should be left alone to manage their own affairs in a live and let-live economy, and that the NAACP who didn't know anything about local business and could care less came in to dictate and make demands because they only cared about votes . It is more indepth than this, but you get the impression that Atticus has seen ugliness of politics and is trying to navigate around it. Scout decides she can not tolerate this and wants to run from her life, die almost literally and that her childhood friend, Hank is the same as her father - a disappointment. Yet when she storms away and goes home to pack and run off, her Uncle Jack comes and sheds lights . He basically slaps her (even in the literal sense) and begins to tell her that she was born and raised a bigot. Through Jack's eyes she comes to realize that he has valid point, he states,"you were born with a conscience somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father's. As you grew up, when you were grown, to-tally unknown to yourself, you confused with your father with God. You never saw your father as a man with a man's heart, and a man's failings..... he makes few mistakes, but he makes them like the rest of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers" He adds, "your father and I wondered sometimes when your conscience and his would part company, and over what. And now we know what." He explained earlier that every man's watchman is his conscience, so it is all becoming clear to her know. He asks her, "What does a bigot do when he meets someone who challenges his opinion? He doesn't give, He stays rigid and doesn't even try to listen, just lashes out. She realizes that she is a bigot, because she did this to her father. He defends his brother by stating that his brother, Atticus will always try to do better by the spirit of the law (there is more to this - much more). In the end, Scout finds peace with Attiticus and they immediately reconcile, because Scout asks forgiveness for lashing out at him, and then Attitcus states "Scout, you may be sorry, but I'm proud of you. I certainly hoped a daughter of mine'd hold her ground for what she thinks is right - stand up to me first of all." Atticus is not racist and Scout wasn't raised racist I thank H L for publishing this book. Better late than never. I appreciate the wait, because I do not think this book would have been well-received in the 1950's Releasing it now, is pure GENIUS....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book. Now granted it is a book of its time and Harper was just recilatipn on what she remembers growing up in the deep south and during that time as it is now the abuse is still going on. If these people don't get that well that their opinion. Reality check people this book also teaches history.
furrawn More than 1 year ago
I refuse to write spoilers. The book needs to unfold for you, the reader. Having said that, the book is amazing. Different from Mockingbird yet the same. I think the first paragraph in chapter three is identical to a paragraph in Mockingbird. Most of Mockingbird is encapsulated in a few sentences looking back by an adult Scout. Atticus. He's a moral good one-dimensional man in Mockingbird. Scout was starting first grade. Atticus in Mockingbird was the Atticus of a six-year-old who adored her father. Atticus in Watchman is three-dimensional, flawed, and amazing still. Watchman will rip out your insides. It's a damned uncomfortable read. The first half is funny as Hell. The second half makes you so uncomfortable that it's hard to breathe. The honesty in the voices. The guileless comments. The hatred. The love. I don't think this book could be written now. It's not politically correct to even attempt to discuss this book. Many will say they hated the book simply because that will preclude having to talk about it. It's uncomfortable. It's a shockingly honest peek into human bejngs and how flawed they are, especially when afraid. It's a peek into how heroic a human father can be, flawed though he is, in loving his daughter and wanting her to believe what is right for her. It's an honest book. Every bit as good as Mockingbird. It's hard to read though. Be prepared to hold your mind open. There are many different sides in the book. Seeing all of them while not agreeing with them is hard. Which, I think, after all, is exactly the point Harper wanted to make. We're all Childe Harold.
thedarknight More than 1 year ago
I just finished GSAW and I wanted to contribute my thoughts on this work. As a high school English teacher, I have read TKAM many times, and was looking forward to reading GSAW. I was looking forward to visiting my old friends as they continued on their path of life. My hope was that their continued journey would further add enlightenment to my own world. That being said, I will admit that I was caught off-guard many times as I read this novel. As I read GSAW, I endeavored to put the two works together in one timeline. I worked to rectify the Atticus in GSAW with the Atticus in TKAM. I worked to accept the fates of all the characters as they passed into GSAW while keeping in mind that GSAW was written first. It was impossible to do. I WANTED the Atticus and the Scout and Jem and Dill of TKAM to continue on the character path that was begun in TKAM. I was not being fair to Ms. Lee or her monumental works. The irony is that GSAW deals with the very issue with which I was wrestling: rectifying what a person really is versus what we want him/her to be. This realization caught me by surprise, made me cry, and endeared this book to me. GSAW is NOT TKAM, it's deeper in its understanding of people versus characters as icons. People are flawed and people justify their actions to themselves and others. For example: we, as a society, are addicted to the sagas of the movie and TV icons who fall short in our eyes and prove that they're all just flawed humans beings like the rest of us. The difference is that their troubles and misdeeds end up on the cover of "People" magazine. My feeling is that the characters in GSAW go beyond the characters in most novels, they are not characters who will settle as mere icons to be put on a shelf like in TKAM who get read and romanticized when we need them to make us feel better and remind us to stand up for one another. The characters in GSAW are closer to real people and they have views and beliefs that we may not agree with. Just like real people, these characters hold to their beliefs and thumb their noses at the reader who would like them to be someone or something else of icon status. Just like those we live with and live nearby in our own Maycomb community, these characters demand the right to their own views and beliefs. Such an uncompromising approach will leave many cold and pass this unique work off as a footnote in TKAMs shadow. I feel that such a placement is missing out on the beauty of the work and its message. I don't feel that I absorbed everything on the first read. I will read this work again after absorbing what it says versus what I wanted it to say. I owe Ms. Lee that. I hope others will give it the benefit of thought as well. I can visualize this novel becoming a college course. From the humor to the beauty of its deeper message, I feel this book could lead to many late night discussions if given the chance. I will never have the opportunity to read this book again for the first time but I will enjoy it again with opened eyes. I am saddened that these two works are all we'll ever get from Ms. Lee but I'm grateful that we have them. Just like Jean Louise on her train ride to Maycomb, I hope others will enjoy the ride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Received this book in hardback as a gift. I tried to finish it, but just scanned it about half way. I do not think this was written by Harper. Maybe it was an outline and some ghost writer finished it. Just did not ring true. Even the time setting seemed false, like someone who did not live in the 50's. Just poorly written and not true to the original characters. I cannot recommend this book. I read on-line a bookstore is offering customers' money back. For my friend, thanks for the gift. At least, I understand that a great writer was taken advantaged of in her elder years. Maybe she will receive enough revenue to make her life easier.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Time has weathered the heroes of my youth quite beautifully. Like a beautiful old wooden door time has taken liberties with the character of my heroes off To Kill a Mockingbird. In some places the wood seems harsh and raw while in other ways smooth and polished as it ever was. The door doesn't quite fit in the jam the way it used to, but it's still a beautiful door. Don't let fear get the best of you. The internet is a buzz with fear mongering tales of blatant racism and hatred for humanity now evident in the characters. Only believe half of what you've heard. Sometimes tolerance can be unclean. As we get older we find that if we take off our blinders we may see that we have changed as much as our world appears to have changed around us. READ THIS BOOK. It's just as good and powerful as the more popular tale we used to love.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the book thank you nook
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very alive and absorbing. I read it in one sitting. The links between this book and To Kill A Mockingbird make it extra interesting even though it's a different story. Go Set a Watchman is about a young woman growing up, not about one childhood summer. I found both stories uplifting even though they delve into the complexities and ugliness of human relations.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I finally finished the book, kept thinking it would get better...it didn't. I even stopped reading and switched to "To Kill a Mockingbird", thinking that Harper Lee didn't write this latest, to check the style. I'm still not convinced, as " Mockingbird " flowed so nicely and "Watchman" didn't. I would've given only one star, but there were some parts made me laugh, otherwise, it was a boring story.
LoveToReadJFE More than 1 year ago
When Jean Louise [Scout] Finch returns home from New York City for her annual two-week visit, she is forced to face some unsettling truths about her family, her friends, and her home town. Jean Louise finds herself questioning her own long-held beliefs. Can she reconcile what she believes in her heart with the disturbing facts that are brought to light? How will these facts affect the relationship she has with her father? Set in the mid-1950s, Maycomb, Alabama is a microcosmic view of the southern response to political and cultural transformations amid the tumult of the growing civil rights movement. Richly-drawn flashbacks of Scout’s growing-up years are a highlight, providing insight into the events that shaped the young woman she has become as well as speaking to the character of Atticus Finch. There is humor, pathos, love, joy, melancholy, heartache . . . the stuff of life itself. Readers will find Jean Louise’s bittersweet coming-of-age story relevant both to the time period in which it occurs and to the characteristics and values of her father. Eight-year-old Scout’s hardscrabble 1930s Deep South life has morphed into Jean Louise’s adult world in which the burgeoning civil rights movement is taking hold. Atticus, once seen only through depthless childhood eyes, has become a more complex, more complete, multi-dimensional character. At seventy-two, he’s a man of the time in which he lives. And yet, in ways that matter, he remains essentially unchanged. “The law is what he lives by,” Uncle Jack tells Jean Louise. And if we somehow discover that perhaps our idols are somewhat less than pure perfection, we would be wise to remember the good they’ve done instead of tumbling them from the pedestals upon which we’ve enshrined them. GO SET A WATCHMAN, written with wit and humor and a wonderful lyrical quality, is absolutely outstanding. A narrative that is moving and often uncomfortable, its compelling story will remain with readers long after the final page has been turned. Highly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Impossible to compete with to kill a mockingbird but it gives an insightful view of the times in the south.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Go set a watchman by Harper Lee is one of the best novels I have ever read. The book itself is full of messages and is extremeley insightful/relateable to the world around us today. I whole heartedly recomend this book to everyone with an open mind. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did! P.S. Harper Lee is a genious!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Probably one of the very best books written. My husbsnd and I generslly have different reading taste, but we both loved it. The author brings the story so vividly. I can't wait for the paperback version so I csn send it as a gift to someone special. Definately five star!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Having read the varied reviews i decided to read it. I wanted it to be great but i didnt love it. It just doesn't sound like the same author. For me, the best thing to have happened is that i found i that mockingbird was realeased finally to ebooks.
NeedlepointShop More than 1 year ago
An insight into the 50's mindset, but can help see the mindset of today. A very good book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Started out promising but got bogged down in the swamp of trying to explain Atticus ' racism. I finished it but know several people who gave up in the middle .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book never gets off the ground and ends without any resolution. It is a real disappointment. To Kill a Mockingbird is a much better book that makes the reader care about the characters. I found myself skimming sections in the hope that it would get interesting, but it never improved. :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mockingbird portrayed Scout,Jem and Atticus as ideal people. Watchman made them real. Scout " came of age" in Watchman, no longer seeing her Father as the perfect man she believed him to be. Atticus seemed to depend on the law to bring order tto an imperfect world. No politician in the south during the forties and fifties would have everyone love him and not have the taint of racism, even if it was not obvious. I wonder what Atticus would have been like if he was not born and raised in the South