Read Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee Online

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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 tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the SoFrom 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 a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past--a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding 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....

Title : Go Set a Watchman
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780062409850
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 278 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Go Set a Watchman Reviews

  • Chance Lee
    2018-12-08 11:17

    The best thing I can say about Go Set a Watchman is that no one will ever accuse it of being written by Truman Capote. For those living in a cave, Go Set a Watchman is a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, the book that popularized the "white people end racism" narrative so maligned in The Help but still celebrated in To Kill a Mockingbird. However, it isn't exactly a sequel. The alleged story is that Harper Lee wrote this book first, and it was rejected by publishers. These publishers were right. Go Set a Watchman is a terrible book. The book is difficult to review because it was never meant to be published. Today, it is more of a historical document than a novel. But this is Goodreads not Goodtexts, and as a readable novel, Go Set a Watchman fails miserably. *spoilers abound, y'all*This initial effort by Harper Lee lacks the personality, humor, rich description, and gift of dialog present in To Kill a Mockingbird. Go Set a Watchman is in the same league as sub-par YA fiction today. Its 26-year-old Jean Louise "Scout" Finch is incredibly selfish, obnoxious, and charmless, i.e. in her twenties. Plot is non-existent. Any attempts at humor fall flat. The writing is often scattered and confusing, slipping clumsily between 3rd- and 1st-person, past- and present-tense. And while a lack of continuity with Mockingbird is forgivable, lack of continuity within the book itself is not. Michiko Kakutani called the book "lumpy," the only comment on the actual writing in her non-review. Kakutani likely takes it easy on Lee because Lee had no agency in publishing this book, and is probably being taken advantage of with its publication. However, she did write this book. And as a result, we are given this new insight into her thoughts and her writing. It is hard to believe that someone could start with this incoherent amateur effort and craft the polished To Kill a Mockingbird in two years. Lee must have had a hell of an editor for Mockingbird, while this book, clearly, did not. Here is the entire plot of Go Set a Watchman: Jean Louise "Scout" Finch learns her father is not who she thought he was. They argue. She decides to accept him anyway. The end. Padding this out are flashbacks, and flashbacks within flashbacks, focusing on Scout as a child. There is an anecdote about she and Jem (her now dead brother) and Dill, which are much more long-winded and boring than the childhood tales in Mockingbird. There is an anecdote about Scout's fake boobs being thrown by her high school boyfriend onto a billboard. There is /nothing/ that actually characterizes Atticus Finch. The climax of the novel is the argument between Jean Louise and Atticus, but, not having the context of Mockingbird, Atticus is a completely flat character. We are only told how to feel about him, then we are told to feel differently. And while their conflict evolves from a difference in beliefs, it is how they affect Scout, not the ramifications of Atticus' beliefs, that selfishly drive her motivation. In present-day context, Go Set a Watchman works, barely, because we have To Kill a Mockingbird to characterize Atticus. And just as Scout learns that her father isn't who she thought he was a child, we as (white) readers learn that To Kill a Mockingbird isn't the book we thought it was when we were children. Or the book that I gave it the benefit of the doubt when I read it last week. This brings us to the historical document part of the review. As To Kill a Mockingbird won a Pulitzer Prize and numerous other awards, this book's, and the author's, politics cannot be ignored. Here is the basic political message of Go Set a Watchman: Negroes are inferior to whites in every way, but that doesn't mean they should be treated poorly! The attitude of white superiority is evident in many ways (in fact, the characters state this point blank). One is Jean Louise's disgusting comment to her uncle Jack that while she doesn't think black people should be treated poorly, it's not like she'll marry a black man! Without using the phrase "jungle fever," both characters talk about the "myth" that respectable whites would ever marry a black person. It's only the trash who would do that, and the trash will never have power anyway, so interracial relationships are nothing to fear! There is also Jean Louise's frustration at Calpurnia for talking "black" and not talking "white." Yes, the scene is a little more complicated than that, as Jean Louise's true frustration is that Calpurnia is treating her, Jean Louise, like all the other uppity blacks treat respectable white folk, but the foundation of this is that Negroes are backward, and whites are superior. White girl policing a black woman's dialect is also present in To Kill a Mockingbird.This hateful racism is more concealed in To Kill a Mockingbird. By regressing into the past with Mockingbird, Lee's thinking appears to have progressed. Casting the lead as a child gives a sense of learning and growth. But with the lead as a young adult, this confusion, these mixed messages, this baffling logic isn't cute anymore, and the racism never is. It is front and center in Go Set a Watchman, because Watchman is set against the backdrop of the Supreme Court decision on Brown vs. Board of Education, which ended segregation. Mockingbird lives in a time of segregation, and it is happy with that. Although Jean Louise has a slightly more progressive view than her father Atticus on the Negro dilemma, both Atticus and Jean Louise actively despise the NAACAP and believe that the Federal Government has no right to tell the states what to do. This was a volatile argument then, and a volatile argument right this second regarding the Supreme Court's 2015 to legalize gay marriage. It is interesting to see this point of view in a fictional context. But the characters in this book are on the wrong side of history. And Harper Lee, while celebrated for being somewhat forward-thinking in 1961, comes across as completely backwards here. The only interesting part of this book is the climax: the actual argument between Jean Louise and Atticus. However, the denouement ruins any impact this climactic battle may have had. In it, Jean Louise is slapped so violently by her uncle that her mouth bleeds. She learns that, as a young woman, she should respect the beliefs of elder white men. To not compromise with those who refuse to compromise, Jean Louise is a bigot. Her racist father, her racist aunt, are not bigots because they are right: whites are superior to Negroes. This is a frustrating argument that still exists today, when religious fanatics who believe that their personal beliefs trump the human rights of others beg "tolerance." Your hate is not to be tolerated. If any benefit comes from this book, it is to show us that we, as a society, have not evolved as much as we should have in the last fifty years. It's easy to forget that book was written in the 50s, because you can imagine these arguments still happening today. In its ending, which is tragic yet not written as a tragedy, Go Set a Watchman endorses undeserved tolerance and respect for hateful white people. Jean Louise concedes to tolerate her hateful relatives, and to respect them, simply because they are white people of good breeding. This book's politics are myopic at best, hateful at worst. Those hateful people, and this book, deserve no respect. These people who believe hate in the name of religion, or heritage, or whatever reason hold back progress. And young people who behave as Jean Louise does at the end of this book are complicit in it. The fact that we still have these kinds of debates 60 years after this book was written proves it. With these awful beliefs brought into stark relief, Go Set a Watchman puts the ending of To Kill a Mockingbird into a different light. In that book, Atticus tells Scout "Most people are [real nice], Scout, when you finally see them." This line almost serves as an omen for the conclusion to Go Set a Watchman. Atticus is a terrible racist, but he's a real nice racist, so we should respect him.No. Just as it's hard to believe that Lee evolved by leaps and bounds a writer in two years, it's even less probable to believe that she evolved into a humanist in that short period of time, either. Many people on the Internet are shocked that Atticus Finch has "changed." In this way, the book works. The thing is, Atticus hasn't actually changed. He always had these racist beliefs. But like Scout, many readers are too blinded by their holy regard for him that they ignored it, or didn't see it. I, too, gave Atticus, and Harper Lee, the benefit of the doubt in To Kill a Mockingbird. I shouldn't have. The book's blurb says that Go Set a Watchman adds "depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic." Oh, that it does. It emphasizes the hateful racism of that novel. Jean Louise/Scout is a Mary Sue for Harper Lee, who, while progressive at the time, is now stuck in the past. And since Harper Lee, by choice, never published anything else, she never showed us that her thinking evolved in any way over the last five decades. She is a relic like the Confederate Flag, to be preserved behind glass -- not to be revered, but to show us where we came from, and how far we still have to go.[Update 7/14/15: A friend shared this excellent article about Tay Hohoff, the editor who worked with Lee between Watchman and Mockingbird. A fascinating story about a woman I had never heard of until yesterday: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/13/boo...Also, I corrected my update from 7/12. There I confused Atticus and Uncle Jack in the "jungle fever" discussion. Jean Louise assures Uncle Jack, not Atticus, that she'll never marry a Negro. Racist patriarchs all look the same.][Updated 7/12/15 to mention Jean Louise's and Atticus's comments on interracial relationships, and other minor changes.]

  • Khanh (the meanie)
    2018-12-16 13:12

    “Now think about this. What would happen if all the Negroes in the South were suddenly given full civil rights? I’ll tell you. There’d be another Reconstruction. Would you want your state governments run by people who don’t know how to run ’em? Do you want this town run by—now wait a minute—Willoughby’s a crook, we know that, but do you know of any Negro who knows as much as Willoughby? Zeebo’d probably be Mayor of Maycomb. Would you want someone of Zeebo’s capability to handle the town’s money? We’re outnumbered, you know.“Honey, you do not seem to understand that the Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people. You should know it, you’ve seen it all your life. They’ve made terrific progress in adapting themselves to white ways, but they’re far from it yet. They were coming along fine, traveling at a rate they could absorb, more of ’em voting than ever before. Then the NAACP stepped in with its fantastic demands and shoddy ideas of government—can you blame the South for resenting being told what to do about its own people by people who have no idea of its daily problems?I understand that there are a lot of controversy and conspiracy theories regarding the publication of this book, and for good reason.I read To Kill a Mockingbird in 8th grade. It was class reading. I watched the movie starring Gregory Peck, he of the patrician demeanor, he who, indubitably, best portrayed the noble American icon that is Atticus Finch. To tell you the truth, I didn't really understand the book and what it symbolized then. I was in 8th grade. I had arrived in the US just a few years before. My command of the English was good, but as with all younger teens, the symbolism of the book and its significance largely escaped me. I lacked the analytical skills to truly understand what it meant, what a landmark it was in terms of American history. In 8th grade, before reading this book, our class studied American history. We studied slavery, the Civil War. We studied the ugly past of racism and segregation. We studied Martin Luther King. As a newly arrived immigrant, this should have made an impact on me, but again, I was so young that I didn't truly understand the significance.It was only later on, when I was older, that I understood how important this book was, and how remarkable the character of Atticus Finch was. He, and this book is an American institution. A symbol of righteousness in a past filled with racial injustice. A defender of the underdog.Which is why this book, this sequel to the iconic To Kill a Mockingbird is such a disappointment. If I must be honest, it should never have been written, for in this book, the shining beacon that is Atticus Finch has been grossly tarnished. He has now grown old, bitter, and racist.Yes, I understand that people change. We all do. I understand that a good lawyer can present his case regardless of his beliefs, but that's not the point. The point is that Atticus Finch is such an outstanding figure that it feels wrong somehow to blacken his image. No pun intended.I've seen comparisons to how this book is the most anticipated book since the release of Harry Potter. Well, what if J.K. Rowlings had released a sequel to Harry Potter, in which Harry is an old, grumpy man, going through a mid-life crisis, leering at young girls at the gym, cheating on his wife, ignoring his children?Nobody would like that. Some symbols are here to stay. Some things are meant to remain the way they are. Some things should remain pure. The memory of To Kill a Mockingbird and that of Atticus Finch should be one of them.I wish this book had been left to rot as an old, forgotten manuscript in some long-forgotten warehouse. I want to remember Atticus Finch as a paragon. Sometimes, I want simplicity, and I want bliss in ignorance.She heard her father’s voice, a tiny voice talking in the warm comfortable past. Gentlemen, if there’s one slogan in this world I believe, it is this: equal rights for all, special privileges for none.The one human being she had ever fully and wholeheartedly trusted had failed her; the only man she had ever known to whom she could point and say with expert knowledge, “He is a gentleman, in his heart he is a gentleman,” had betrayed her, publicly, grossly, and shamelessly.

  • Diane Barnes
    2018-12-05 14:10

    First, let me say that this book IN NO WAY affected my opinion of "To Kill A Mockingbird". If anything, it made me love it more. In my mind, it is even more of a masterpiece from having read it's predecessor, or, as Harper Lee herself described it, the parent of Mockingbird. And Harper Lee herself has lost no respect from me.The characters become even richer from seeing their future selves in Watchman. There are scenes and dialogue here that showed up in her later effort. She fleshed out some characters and limited others. And forget the hype about Atticus being a racist. He was a product of his times who thought that the South was not ready for complete equality of the races. It was Alabama in 1955, for goodness sake. He joined the Klan and went to a few meetings so he would know whose faces were under the hoods, in order to limit the harm they could do. All the newspaper articles about this book failed to mention that little detail. Atticus is still Atticus, but more of a human being here, less of a saint. Jean Louise has grown up, and like all kids in their 20's, thinks she knows everything. Dill and Jem make appearances via flashbacks, and we see another side of Calpurnia.We should bow down in reverence to the editor who suggested to Lee that she tell the story from Scout's childhood perspective. It was a brilliant idea, Lee took the advice, and Mockingbird was brought into existence as the book so many of us have loved all our lives. This book, if published then, would never have achieved the fame and importance of Mockingbird.To finish, I am so glad I read this book. I was apprehensive at first because I didn't want this one to ruin my love for Mockingbird, but as I said in the beginning, it made me love it more. It just goes to prove how much readers invest in literary characters who can sometimes become more real and influential that the people we actually live with.

  • Stepheny
    2018-12-12 12:15

    2015 Goodreads Choice Winner:Best FictionSo, I’m not going to lie. I was pretty excited when I found out that this book was coming out.I was even more excited when it showed up at my house. I know there is a whole controversy around this book but I just don’t buy it. I believe the story that was told. No, I don’t want to argue with you about it. No, I don’t want you to tell me why you’re right. No, I am not going to try to change your mind on the matter. So, please don’t think you’ll change mine.I had the wonderful experience of reading To Kill a Mockingbird (reread) while reading this one. It is absolutely the best thing you could do. Reading them together allowed me to see it as one full story arc, rather than a book and its sequel. It truly read like one book to me. I always felt that TKAM was Atticus’ story. I realize Scout is the one telling it, but it felt like it was his story. GSAW feels like Scout’s story. Scout was always my favorite character from TKAM and perhaps that is why I enjoyed this one so much. Scout is forced to face some harsh realities; realities that turn her world upside down. The hardest part of growing up is realizing the world is nothing like what you thought it was. I remember facing these realities myself and I remember the devastating blows it delivered. "But a man who has lived by truth—and you have believed in what he has lived—he does not leave you merely wary when he fails you, he leaves you with nothing. I think that is why I’m nearly out of my mind.”I know there was a huge uproar about the change in Atticus Finch. I don’t think it was a change. I think it was there all along, but that we were too blind to see it. When Atticus defends Tom in TKAM he defends him because he knows him to be innocent of the charge of rape. In all reality it has little to do about the color of Tom’s skin. Atticus defended him for the sake of justice. I still disagree with a lot of the claims that Atticus is a racist. I think Atticus understood the bigger picture; that we are only capable to do so much only so often. I can’t fault him too heavily for that. The time period was different, the mindset or collective conscious if you will, was different. I’m not saying it’s an excuse or a justification. I’m just saying that sometimes the time and place of an event DO matter. It’s easy for us to sit here today and point fingers while yelling “You’re wrong!”. The fact of the matter is this: we can do what’s right most of the time and still be good people. In fact, it’s what most of us do. Look a little deeper in your heart and you’ll know I am right. Atticus is no different- and THAT is precisely where everyone’s problem with this book seems to be. It is hard for us to accept Atticus as a common person when we have held him on a pedestal in our hearts for so long. As far as I am concerned, he is still on that pedestal. If anything, I have a higher respect for him now than I ever did, if only because he is now a flawed human being; his character more realistic, more substantial. Scout is coming to terms with these things in the only way she has ever come to terms with anything- by throwing every ounce of her being into it. She is passionate and relentless in her beliefs and I can only admire her for her voice. She speaks those very harsh truths to whoever will listen and she does so loud enough for all of Maycomb County to hear. Why doesn’t their flesh creep? How can they devoutly believe everything they hear in church and then say the things they do and listen to the things they hear without throwing up? I thought I was a Christian but I’m not. I’m something else and I don’t know what.”If you go into this looking for a sequel I think you will be disappointed. If you go into it understanding that it is the whole story that has been there all the time, I think you’ll enjoy it. It opens the story up and gives us a greater understanding of TKAM. We are reunited with characters we love so innately that we feel their anguish as if it were our own. We get more tales of Scout and Jem as the young and reckless pair they were. The best thing you could do is read these two books together in hopes of seeing it as one. It will be on my list of favorites and I can’t wait to reread it in the near future.

  • Darth J
    2018-11-30 16:12

    Review:I think this quote really encapsulates both the tone of the book and peoples’ feelings when reading it. The audience and Scout’s nostalgia for what once was is a large part of the experience with this To Kill a Mockingbird sequel. Things change, people change, and the lens of our childhood perceptions can be clouded with a rose-tint that turns out to be not so consistent with reality. Fair warning is given to those dear readers who grew up—like Scout—to idolize Atticus: “As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings—I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ‘em like all of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers.” -p. 265Go Set a Watchman has neither the quaint small town feeling or the spooky mystery of Boo Radley, whose unexplained absence is suspect in itself; is he dead? and was he buried up the chimney?? Gone too is the middle grade tone, though there are plenty of oddly placed flashbacks to parts of Scout and Jem’s teen years.We find Scout is fully-grown and headstrong, but is still terribly naïve (which makes for many an explosive outburst). She clashes most with her Aunt Alexandra, mostly about such things as who she can marry; Alexandra tends to have a deluded vision of Scout as some kind of high society woman and thinks she is too good for “trash” like Hank.It isn’t a perfect book. It isn’t an entertaining book. It isn’t even a necessary sequel. I don’t know why it’s even been released other than to cash in on the success of the original. The story is boring and meanders along with too many asides before ever making its point.

  • Navessa
    2018-12-15 15:12

  • Jessica
    2018-12-02 09:24

    Update 2/19/16Rest in peace, Scout: http://gothamist.com/2016/02/19/rip_h...I feel I have to start off by pointing out that this isn’t really a true sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird and you are going to be nothing but disappointed if that's what you're looking for. From what I understand, this was the first draft of a book that Harper Lee submitted to her publisher in the late 50s. Her editor wasn’t so sure about it and suggested Lee write a different version of the story and that feedback ultimately led to To Kill A Mockingbird.I was excited to read this because To Kill A Mockingbird is absolutely and without a doubt my favorite book. I was a reader long before I picked it up when I was 14, but it was the first book that made me stop and think about things like foreshadowing and character development. It was the first book that genuinely moved me because I was so invested in the characters as something more than just words on a page. I know that's not a terribly unique opinion. To be honest, it’s so beloved that I sometimes actually feel kind of cliché calling it my favorite. So when this was announced, I knew it was either going to be wonderful or just so-so. I suspected that it was going to be the latter, given that Lee's editors initially sent her back to write a different version of the story, but I wanted to hold out hope that there was something good there. Also, I just wanted to form my own opinion about it. But I don't even know how to rate this, because my feelings are so complicated and varied. This is most definitely not a great book, but it feels unfair to criticize something that was never properly molded into anything. It's not a terrible book, either, but it’s kind of hard to look past its unsettling faults.The truth is I think people are going to hate this but I also think a large part of that’s because people were expecting this book to be something that it just isn't, and that's a sequel to To Kill A Mockingbird. By now, I think most people have at least read the headlines expressing horror that the Watchman version of Atticus is a segregationist. The general consensus seems to be, “How dare a work be published that challenges the lionized version of Atticus that America has come to embrace as its all-time favorite hero?” The thing is, though, it's not the same guy in both books. Not because people change with time or anything else like that that's already been written about in countless articles over the last few days. But because when Watchman was written in 1957, the character Atticus Finch as we know and love him did not really exist yet. There was a reason that the father in Go Set A Watchman held racist beliefs and it was so that Lee could tell a specific story, and that happens to be a very different story than the one she eventually told in Mockingbird. In this story, it seems clear to me that Lee -- through the semi-autobiographical voice of Scout -- wanted to find a way to come to terms with loving people who were Southern to the core while also realizing that there's much about the Southern Way of life that her new Northern peers found perplexing and distasteful. I think I agree with my husband when he said to me that perhaps this should have been included as a supplement to a new version of Mockingbird released sometime down the road, the kind of thing in which the author of the foreword of the afterword examines how the characters became something different. I don't know. Maybe this shouldn't have been published as a separate book, but I think there's some small value in seeing how these characters transformed. There's some references to things that ultimately got fleshed out in Mockingbird: a few-sentence summary of what eventually became Tom Robinson's trial (though, in this version, Atticus won that case), summers with Dill, the colorful citizens of Maycomb. I can totally see why an editor might zero in on these things and say to Harper Lee, "That's a better story. Let's examine that instead." I personally enjoyed the opportunity to see things from that perspective. In the first half of the book, there's a heavy sense of condemnation regarding the Southern way of life. Scout's been living in New York for several years and is kind of disappointed to go back home and see her small town through a changed lens. She remembers Atticus being polite to the black folks in town, noting that he defended Tom Robinson despite potential damage to his reputation not because he wanted to save the black man but because he saw a blatant miscarriage of justice. She thinks to herself, "I didn't grow up to be racist. Someone taught me to not be a racist, but how can it be the people in this small Alabama town who are saying really awful things about black people? How can it be my father, who is sitting in meetings with men who so viciously hate black people?”(I find this all very interesting because it’s still, sixty years later, a conversation that we’re having as a country in the wake of the tragedy at Charleston. A lot of the things that shock Scout haven’t really gone away, and as someone who grew up on the cusp of Appalachia, I do find myself bristling at wholesale dismissals of people from the South as altogether Backwards and Racist. Scout’s right; it’s a lot more complex than that. But Watchman doesn’t really make that argument very coherently. Maybe it’s just not possible to make that argument coherently at all.)The plot itself is messy and unformed -- but that's because this is a largely unedited version of a manuscript that was essentially rejected by the publisher in 1957. Well, really, it seems her editor saw potential and instructed her to go in a different direction but for all intents and purposes I see that as a rejection of the story being told here. It’s really not all that bad if you remember that, though it does make me appreciate the construction of Mockingbird all the more. There are some really lovely passages throughout this book and it gave me a lot to think about. I think it's also really hard to wrap your brain around the intent here without the context of what was going on in Alabama in the late '50s – I certainly struggled with that myself. If nothing else, this book really made me want to go back and read every Harper Lee biography I can find in an attempt to get a clearer picture of what she was trying to do as a writer. I just found myself wanting more context. Especially in the back half of the book, when Lee’s point kind of becomes muddled. I found myself completely uncertain as to what the takeaway of this book was supposed to be, exactly. You've got some Maycomb townspeople arguing, “it’s not about racism, it’s about state’s rights” and you've got some characters that seem to be saying, “love the sinner, not the sin." Maybe it's just hard to see the point when today's racism looks so different?I’ve been thinking, to some extent, that the backlash against this book is a reaction to what seems to be a tearing down of the myth we've collectively built about Harper Lee. She wrote this one, maybe-perfect book that's come to be seen as a bastion of racial tolerance and justice....and then this book comes along and muddies that, to some extent, because the views on race relations presented here are hardly cut and dried. Lee herself may have had some conflicted feelings about race relations, which shouldn’t be incredibly shocking given that she was a woman born in post-Reconstruction Alabama, and it may have been the influence of others that helped shape Mockingbird into a masterpiece. I think it’s unfair to get mad at the publishers of Watchman over that. It turns out, Harper Lee is just a human but we do still have the masterpiece and this doesn’t change my love for that masterpiece at all.Maybe it’s easy for me to say that because I never looked at race as the central tenet of Mockingbird. It was there, definitely, but the most important part of the book to me had always been Scout’s coming of age and everything that came with it: seeing her father fail, learning the world could be ugly, but also learning that scary things can be sources of love and redemption, how important it is to climb into another man’s shoes and walk around in them. In the book (the movie differed in this regard) I always saw the trial of Tom Robinson as the context for this, the backdrop that steered the plot into a conflict that allowed a small girl in the South to learn these lessons. I always thought Boo Radley did as much to teach Scout about tolerance as Atticus and Tom Robinson did, and it’s the climax surrounding him that touched me way more deeply than the climax that surrounded Tom and the Ewells. I don’t think those lessons are in anyway under threat by the alternative universe that is Go Set A Watchman. You can’t really look at this as a sequel that’s been directly informed by and is following up To Kill A Mockingbird, if for no other reason than because in one version you’ve got child Scout learning that racism is this ugly thing that you don’t have to hold in your heart and in another version you’ve got adult Scout coming home and feeling dismayed that she never knew so many people she grew up with could be so racist and working hard to understand the psychology of the South. One of the reasons this alternative universe is lacking in the magic of Mockingbird is definitely the absence of the precocious, yet innocent, point of view of young Scout. Without that innocence, the sense of possibility and hope are gone and what we’re left with is maybe a bit more honest and definitely a lot more cynical.I think this is worth reading as a study of how characters and plot and setting are informed by one another, and I think this is worth reading so you can form your own opinions. I don’t think this is worth reading if you are looking for something that is going to give you the same warm fuzzies as To Kill A Mockingbird or if you are worried that this is going to somehow tarnish your love for it. Though, for what it's worth, I don’t think it should tarnish your love simply because it doesn’t give you a new extension to love farther. If this book disappoints you, I hope you can use that disappointment as a reminder of what was so great about the first one.

  • Roxane
    2018-11-17 17:19

    I am going to write a full review I think but oh this is not a novel and it was not ready for public consumption. There is a faint glimmer of plot. There IS something here but it is not coherent. It is not robust. This reads as notes toward something grand and that makes the book's current state that much more a travesty.

  • Barry Pierce
    2018-12-04 10:13

    (edit: in the original review of this novel I gave it three-stars, after 24-hours of thinking about it I decided to upgrade it to four-stars, thus giving it the same rating that I gave to To Kill A Mockingbird)This book is the literary equivalent of those reunion episodes of Entertainment Tonight. The whole cast of some old sitcom get together and you just spend the whole time thinking about how old everybody looks.The basic plot of this new sequel/prequel/first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird is that our beloved narrator, Scout (now Jean Louise), is now in her twenties and returns from New York to visit her father, Atticus, in Maycomb. However, Atticus has changed in these years and now hold views and opinions that greatly upset Jean Louise. That's basically it.Reading the first page of this novel you are immediately dropped into the familiar prose and voice of Lee's masterwork. Maycomb is alive again in your hands. The novel simmers along at a steady pace as Jean Louise reminisces about her childhood in the town and about her life now. Then about half-way through the plot turns as we discover about what Atticus has been up to. Unless you have been living under a rock then you already know what I'm talking about but if you don't know then I'll tell you, (view spoiler)[HE'S A BIG OLE RACIST (hide spoiler)]. The rest of the book is spent with Jean Louise trying to comprehend her father's new views and it fizzles out after that. The ending of this was far too saccharine for my liking. TKAM was brutal at parts but there is no brutality in this book. It takes a fairly safe and maudlin approach to telling its story. I wouldn't call it bland but it is certainly quite vanilla.However, if we look past these minor qualms we still have a thoroughly enjoyable novel by one of the 20th century's most celebrated writers. Celebrate that. TKAM purists might hiss and groan at the mere existence of this book, but don't listen to them. This is a good book.

  • Will Byrnes
    2018-12-06 12:14

    Atticus Finch as racist. There it is. Tough to swallow, isn’t it? Atticus Finch, the embodiment of decency, brought to life in To Kill a Mockingbird, widely considered one of the greatest novels in American literature, magnificently brought to cinematic life by Gregory Peck in the film, defender of the powerless, dispenser of wisdom, a hero to generations of readers and movie-goers, spouting opinions that do or should make most folks cringe. Here are a few samples:…You realize that our Negro population is backward, don’t you? You will concede that? You realize the full implications of the word ‘backward’ don’t you?…If the scales were tipped over, what would you have? The county won’t keep a full board of registrars, because if the Negro vote edged out the white you’d have Negroes in every county office—…I’d like my state to be left alone to keep house without advice from the NAACP, which knows next to nothing about its business and cares less. …do you want Negroes by the carload in our schools and churches and theaters? Do you want them in our world? So what are we to make of this?First, let’s step back from the this version versus that one controversy and consider the book on its own. Jean Louise Finch (JLF) is returning to her home town for the fifth time since moving from Maycomb, Alabama to New York City. She sees the place where she grew up more clearly this time than she ever had before. She professes, based on her experience of having been brought up with exposure to all sorts, and having never been overtly taught to be a racist, to be someone who is color blind. That makes her unique in Maycomb, as everyone else has been very much aware of color all their lives. What comes as the biggest shock for JLF is seeing that her sainted father, a man everybody loves, and other people she cares for, despite their positive qualities, hold views that are shocking. JLF struggles to come to terms with this realization. The crux of the story is how she deals with this. While she is already physically an adult, Jean Louise must cope with coming-of-age truths. She realizes that when it comes to her appreciation for the people of Maycomb, dad included, she has been, as Jem describes in Mockingbird, “a caterpillar wrapped in a cocoon.” The watchman of the title is taken from a biblical quotation, (Isaiah 21:6), and refers to conscience. JLF tries to reconcile her conscience with what she now sees, and realizes had been present all along. She is anguished by her internal conflict. With amazing memories of her childhood in this town, it is a huge part of who she is. In facing the possibility of rejecting her father and the place in which she became the person she is, she is faced with rejecting a part of herself and that is the core conflict of the story. Harper Lee - from Smithsonian.comSet in a time when Brown vs the Board of Education had recently and unalterably changed the legal and social landscape, many in the South perceived changes mandated by that decision as nothing less than another war of northern aggression. One of the biggest strengths of the book is how it communicates the locals’ feelings about and arguments against Civil Rights, and particularly the activities of the NAACP. There is real insight here into the local psyche, from a true local. Another strength of the book is the clear voice of JLF, Scout as a kid, particularly in her recollections of a glowing childhood. The voice of Scout will take you by the hand and lead you through. It is the same voice that appears in Mockingbird, warm, familiar and welcome. I enjoyed JLF’s relationship with her uncle Jack, a character absent from Mockingbird. Jack offers a perspective that is definitely homegrown, but is also decorated with the baubles and gewgaws of an advanced education and unusual interests. The affection between JLF and Jack is palpable. Her interaction with Henry, a friend since childhood, was kludgy. There are moments of real connection between the JLF and the young man who wants to marry her, but so much of their conversation is peppered with excessive use of “honey” and “sweet” that it was distracting from the content of the interaction. It felt forced. The scenes in which JLF confronts Atticus are powerful and even upsetting, but she lays into him without even asking what was up. I do recognize that many people, and particularly the young, jump to conclusions, but I wondered whether Scout, who is portrayed as a pretty bright person, would really be so close minded as to form an opinion, particularly so strong an opinion, based on unexamined evidence. There is also some wonderful, and playful use of language, although the content reflects some of the very not 2015-politically-correct zeitgeist of the era. There are also beautiful passages that reflect the attachment Harper Lee, through her avatar, feels to her native soil.The political views on display are appalling, paternalistic, racist, sexist, homophobic, and do reflect the attitudes of the time and place depicted, I expect. But it galls to have characters portray their dark views as accepted wisdom and have far too much of that accepted by a character who should know better. In short, as a stand-alone there is much to like here, including some strong characters, a wonderful feel for place and a willingness to take on serious and controversial subject matter, but there are plenty of flaws as well. Go Set a Watchman is no classic. Of course Go Set a Watchman would not have become the literary event of 2015 had it not shared DNA with a novel widely regarded as one of the best American novels ever written, To Kill a Mockingbird. And just in case you are newly arrived on our planet, perhaps are recently thawed out from an extended cryogenic holiday, or have just come to after a nasty crack on the head in 1960, Mockingbird recounts, through the eyes of the grown-up Scout, a time when she was six years old and her father, Atticus Finch, was called on to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman. It offers a view of a golden childhood and a principled father taking on the bigotry of a deep South town in service of justice and decency. If you have not yet read it, go, scoot, scram, take a hike, go find a copy, and come back when you are done. Ok, read it? Good. There has certainly been a lively reaction to Go Set a Watchman. Would that reaction have been different if there had never been a Mockingbird baseline against which to compare this version of Atticus? That is something we can never know. But it is helpful to think of To Kill a Mockingbird as the second and final version of Nelle Harper Lee’s (Yes, Harper is her middle name) seminal novel. Go Set a Watchman was Mockingbird 1.0. Harper Lee sold her book to the publisher JB Lippincott in 1957. But it was deemed not ready for prime time. I do not know the specifics of what editorial direction Lee was given by her editor, Tay Hohoff, other than to focus on the time of Jean Louise's childhood. Racism is taken on very powerfully in 1.0. There is less telling and more showing in Mockingbird. The childhood recollections here, while wonderful, do not occupy as much of the stage as they do in version 2.0, but you can certainly see how an editor might laser in on those as strengths to magnify when trying to improve the book. And if one is then going to re-set the primary stage to the time of Scout’s childhood, it makes sense to make Atticus more purely heroic. In fact Mockingbird was intended to have been titled Atticus.There is danger, of course, that this original depiction of Atticus will forever tarnish the gleaming ideal of a man we admire so from Mockingbird. Why splash racist graffiti over a cherished icon? Actually the racist element was there from the start, in this 1.0 version. It is instructive to see how Atticus evolved in the writer’s molding from the crusty first version to the graceful, fine character that illuminates Lee’s ultimate masterpiece. There is no need to overstate Atticus’s racism in Watchman. In reviews and commentary some elements have been taken out of context and misrepresented. The KKK thing, for example. Atticus states that his purpose in joining was to find out who was behind the masks, not to further the organization’s agenda. Another item pertains to a racist screed handed out by a lunatic and found by JLF in her father’s home. Atticus agrees that the author is a nut, and that he had been granted the right to speak at the town council, as any other nut might have. Atticus does not subscribe to the views in the pamphlet. He subscribes to enough, though, to cause all who know where his character ends up in version 2.0, to take a large step back. You can get a taste of that in the quotes at the top of this review. It continues on, with nastiness about the NAACP, legalistic hogwash about SCOTUS violating the 10th Amendment, a general sense of feeling under assault by outside forces, and a paternalistic notion that all would be just fine if those northern rabble-rousers would just let Negro advancement proceed at a more measured pace. This is crucial, I believe, to one of the strengths of Watchman. While the views held by the residents of Maycomb, as represented by Atticus, Henry and others, may not receive a universal welcome in 2015, I believe they do fairly represent the beliefs of most educated southern whites during this era. The book might have been instructive to northerners, had it been released in its original form, as to the nature of the strident opposition the civil rights movement faced. As such, Watchman offers a valuable guide to a time and place, where even folks most at the time would consider pretty decent, like Atticus, maintained views that, while they remain widespread among some segments of our population today, are now generally seen as abhorrent. There are other interesting elements that come from a consideration of the novels set side by side. What remains? What is lost? The courthouse where Scout watches Atticus heroically defend Tom Robinson in Mockingbird is a real place in Monroeville, Alabama, Lee’s birthplace. In Watchman it is a scene of horror as Jean Louise sees a racist propound his views in a public forum in which her father and friend are principal players. Calpurnia, the Finch housekeeper in Mockingbird plays a major role in Watchman as well. In one particularly chilling scene, Jean Louise, who had seen Cal as a nurturing force her entire life, now wonders if Cal ever really cared for her or, instead, saw her only through a racial lens. Dill, her avatar for childhood pal Truman Capote, is present in both novels, but Boo Radley was added in Mockingbird. Henry is gone from Mockingbird. JLF’s brother, Jem, a major character in Mockingbird, is much less of a presence in Watchman.Go Set a Watchman may occupy a place in the shadow of what was to come, but it does offer insight into the author, her take on the world in the late 1950s, and into her characters. As a blood relation to one of the greatest books in American literature, it is most definitely worth reading. Published - 7/14/15Review – 7/24/15=============================EXTRA STUFFHarpercollins has made a FaceBook page for GSaWRobert McCrum’s review in The Guardian is quite informative - Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee review – a literary curiosity A Charles Leerhsen article in the June 2010 Smithsonian is also worth a look - Harper Lee’s Novel AchievementA nice bit of extra intel on Tay Hohoff, Lee’s editor in this article by Emma Cueto on Bustle.com,Harper Lee's First Editor, Tay Hohoff, Had A Lot To Do With Creating 'To Kill A Mockingbird', So Here's What You Should Know About Her The reading group guide is now available here2/19/16 - Nell Harper Lee passed away today - her contribution will be live forever

  • MJ Nicholls
    2018-11-20 14:14

    Praise the heavens. Now there’s a second inexplicably overly popular novel that people who barely read two books a year can list as one of their favourite novels on their Goodreads, Facebook, and dating profiles. And now there’s another inexplicably overly popular novel I have to ignore, while the world fires missiles of contempt into my head, bearing the inscriptions: “But this is so POWERFUL. It is about INJUSTICE and stuff. You are an IDIOT for not reading this.” Looking forward to not reading or rating any of your reviews of this one come June.

  • Petra X
    2018-11-19 17:14

    So we all felt that praise was due to Atticus in Mockingbird because he defended a black kid accused of rape, unsuccessfully. And we all fell about slathering and slobbering with joy that such a wonderful example of humanity could have come out of such racist times. So much so it's a standard school curriculum book.But we were wrong. He didn't defend the kid from any feeling of the equal humanity of blacks and whites. Not a bit, Atticus was a member of the Ku Klux Klan and a firm racist, absolutely convinced of the inferiority of blacks. What worried him in Watchman with another, similar case and presumably in Mockingbird, was that if the accused black person didn't get representation (from him or another white lawyer) then the NAACP would come in with their clever lawyers and arguments and insist on black people on the jury. And then the status quo would be upset, blacks would get ideas, the whole town might be forced to change and there would be no guarantee that the accused would be found guilty. That is why O.J. Simpson got off. It wasn't a case of guilt or innocence, it was that people, black people, had had enough. What was one guilty person not convicted compared to the huge numbers, the excessive percentage of blacks filling the prisons in the US for crimes that whites .. well let's not go into that. If you firmly believe that the prisons in the US are overwhelming black because blacks commit disproportionately more crimes than whites and need to be locked up with much harsher sentences than whites, then you and I have nothing to say to each other and if you aren't a paid-up member of the KKK, then you are in spirit.I've rewritten my review of To Kill a Mockingbird in the light of knowing that this book was the first draft for it and seeing that Atticus was no kind of saint, but the very opposite._____All the rest is thoughts, rants, even the initial review. (view spoiler)[Looking back on To Kill a Mockingbird after having read Watchman is like looking at an advert for icecream, it makes your mouth water, you really would like some of it. Then you read that the food stylist that did it used mayonnaise because real icecream would melt and what the fuck does it matter if you were fooled. Those who did the fooling would not just be fine with it but happy that the stylist had been so creative. Those who were fooled even if they knew it would say good job, it was the right thing to do, we wouldn't have been happy with the mess the real thing would have made. Only a few would say man, wtf, how could you cheat people like this? And everyone else would look at you and say, 'What you thought it was for real? Come on, this is all about money, use sense."**The writing of the book seems to me to be by two hands. The first was obviously top of their creative writing class and the second was a hard, knife-sliced professional work.The book was good, very good even, but left a nasty taste in my mouth, it isn't a book I could say I enjoyed with a smile on my face and sad that I will never be able to have that experience of reading it again for the first time.**I've not been more explicit because I don't want to spoil the book for anyone. But I might write a full review and use spoilers. You could resist clicking on spoilers right? Trouble with spoilers is, they are like wet paint, more or less irresistible. And then sometimes you regret it.All the rest in spoilers is just notes before, during and after reading the book. (view spoiler)[Update 1 After reading what the NYTimes Thanks Gary has to say, I am wondering if maybe Watchman was just a draft and was written by someone else from that and the someone else is not anyone with a big literary name, so if the book was published honestly it would garner some publicity but everyone would be looking for flaws as they always do when one author takes over another's book. So the publishers think that they will make much more if instead of writing, 'from an original idea by Harper Lee', they just make out the whole entire finished work was hers. And there is no one alive in a position to contradict them except the ghost writer who is under contract and stands to earn an awful lot of money from this and isn't going to say anything. I wonder.Everyone is saying more or less that this was a first manuscript, but the discussion group I was in the other night was saying that might not necessarily be true. That could be a concocted story to 'prove' authorship. They were saying that it might have been an idea of Harper Lee or even a draft but that the finished work might be the work of another hand altogether. I find it tries my credibility to think there was a finished manuscript that would likely make millions of dollars but the publishers didn't like the story so they didn't publish it until the author has dementia and there is no one left alive who can attest to the provenance of the book. Altruistic businesses who put principles before money? How many of those can you name?_____First thoughts I was given this for a breakfast present this morning so I'm probably going to read it quite soon. I don't know that I would have bought it though. From everything I've read I have concerns about the authorship of the book. It wouldn't be the first time an author has been persuaded to put their name to a book they didn't write. Sometimes they don't even put their name to it but the publishers do and then you get abominations like Story of O.This is a brilliantly-written story of business-owning career woman who likes to get her freak on by being utterly humiliated and punished. Such sex makes her hot, it makes us hot too. The writing is fabulous. The 'follow up' Story of OII or Return to the Chateau if written by a very inferior hack indeed. It's obvious to anyone who reads the books. The follow-up is just a sub-par sex book. But librarians on GR insist that it is a series. Such wilful ignorance upsets me.And so it is for Go Set a Watchman. If this doesn't live up to the original writing, I will feel cheated and let down and just taken for a patsy by the publisher. So, if it isn't genuine (as I suspect) I hope it's at least well-written enough to be enjoyable and make me unsure. (hide spoiler)]Finished 30 July 2015. (hide spoiler)]

  • Steph Sinclair
    2018-12-13 13:23

    I guess this is as good time as any to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird.

  • Delee
    2018-11-19 11:28

    Wooooo Hooooo!!!https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rc...Update July 14th, 2105*I read a review that made me change my mind- and normally I don't do that (I like to think for myself thank you very much)...but I am going to leave To Kill a Mockingbird as it should be- My final memory of a great author- and characters I will always love- just the way they were.

  • Maxwell
    2018-12-12 17:19

    When I readTo Kill a Mockingbird for a second time this last May, I realized I didn’t like Atticus Finch nearly as much as I remembered liking him. He seemed too perfect, almost frustratingly so. And as Scout is only a child narrating that story, she puts her father on a god-like pedestal that is understandable when everyone tells her how integrous and upright and honest he is.So while reading Go Set a Watchman, I couldn’t help but be a bit pleased to see Atticus Finch humanized. I know, contrary to popular opinions about this book, I really enjoyed reading from Scout’s perspective as the harsh reality of seeing one’s idol knocked down happened before her own eyes. She’s twenty-six now and returning to small, smarmy Maycomb, Alabama. She’s coming from the big city, with a new perspective, conflicting with the ones she assumes everyone else now holds. Her childhood might not be as ideal as she remembers it, or at least the repercussions of Atticus’s methods of child-rearing aren’t as positive as one might assume. And now Scout has to face the harsh reality of differing opinions, seeing the ones she loves drift from her, as she comes into her own opinions.I found Scout’s internal struggle to be incredibly interesting to read about. It’s scary and hard to try and reconcile one’s upbringing with the newfound beliefs of becoming an adult. And while the book had some problematic moments, I found overall that I resonated deeply with Scout’s journey. I didn’t mind seeing Atticus as he is in GSAW, because A.) I’m a fan of To Kill a Mockingbird but in no way am I overly attached to that picture of Atticus and B.) the sad reality of life is that sometimes things aren’t as perfect as they might seem. Alongside that, knowing Harper Lee wrote this before TKAM helped me to try and separate the two stories. However, I do think that it’s difficult to see this novel without the source material of TKAM. But I don’t think it’s impossible to see both Atticus Finch’s as one and the same. This book does an interesting and, in my opinion, good job at explaining Atticus’s actions (not that they are justifiably good, but that they at least can be actions taken by the same man from TKAM), even to the detriment of Scout’s image of him.I meant to keep this review short, but as you can see from this book sprouted a lot of ideas in my mind. It had me thinking about the transition from childhood to adulthood that everyone must at some point come to terms with. And though I wish it had been more fleshed out—it’s an early draft and wasn’t edited before publication by Lee’s request—I was happy with how the story resolved. I think it leaves enough to the imagination and mind to keep considering the issues, while giving a sense of closure for Scout. 4/5 stars

  • Jibran
    2018-11-16 12:13

    If someone described the publication of this book as a money making racket I would find it hard to criticise. Even if the senile author had been manipulated into acceding to its publication, the kind of money that was growing on the trees would make it a mere peccadillo. But I suspect had Mr Finch been fortunate to live as long as his creator-author, he'd have taken umbrage at the moral failure on the part of the agents and publishers no?Be that as it may, this novel couldn’t have appeared at a worse time. Atticus Finch, the regressive sophist of this sequel, now retired and redundant, yet full of intellectual charm, has made his reappearance in the year when American streets are in the grip of a renewed racial rebound; the reality that once ironically hid behind rainbow songs that envisioned a colour-blind society has bounced back with its glaring contradictions and shoddy equivocations, while those who wield power have resorted to all manner of chicanery to suggest all is well.By that I mean there are countless people around still blaming the victims of racial framing who are vindicated by Atticus’ intellectual (and inexplicable) metempsychosis from a young lawyer fighting for justice for the oppressed race to an ornery old man who is unsettled by the “slow pace” at which the blacks are making “progress.” Sounds familiar? Yes, the judgments are still in the coming; yes, the black community must still get a certificate of progress from their previous oppressors; yes, now that they have stopped treating them as subhumans, by opening an equal playing field before them (in theory), they want them to be quick to dissolve the weight of the past and join in the patriotic song-singing and nationalistic flag-waving, to live happily ever after, till kingdom come.I did not think much of the first installment. Its flattened prose aside, its symbolic cardiac arrest apart, I have some strong objections to how it is conceptualised. In my opinion the character of Atticus Finch is an exhausted moral allegory for a tormented racial conscience that offers a saccharine palliative to assuage the collective guilt born of centuries of atrocities inflicted upon the "lesser races.” Yet at the same time he so plainly and obviously symbolises an internalised thought process social theorists have labelled the “saviour complex.” So Mockingbird series is not about human rights and equality for black people but something else entirely. I tried to look at it differently but couldn’t ignore the fine print even though my emotions had been manipulated into applauding the great “moral message” floating on the surface of the novel.Mockingbird has failed me and I have failed the Mockingbird. Dear Harper Lee, I beg your pardon.July 2015

  • Brigid ✩ Cool Ninja Sharpshooter ✩
    2018-11-18 16:28

    “Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.”Important things to understand about Go Set a Watchman:• It is not exactly a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. If you go into it thinking of it as a sequel, you will be disappointed. • This book was never supposed to be published. For most of her life, Harper Lee did not want it to be published. There's a lot of sketchiness surrounding the publication of this book. You can read up on it here.• It was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird. In other words, it's not a sequel––it's essentially an early draft and an alternate version of the story.With those things in mind, on to the review ...General thoughts:Like many others, I was initially excited about the unearthing of a second Harper Lee book––but, of course, nervous about it as well. Especially as I learned about all the controversy surrounding it, I grew even more nervous.I decided long before I read it that I would go into it with no expectations whatsoever. If anything, I would try to read it as a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird and view it as an interesting insight into Lee's development of her beloved, world-famous book.With that in mind, I wasn't really disappointed in this book. I liked it. It's just that, essentially, it's a weaker version of To Kill a Mockingbird.What I liked:• The strongest parts of the book are definitely the flashbacks about Jean Louise's childhood and teenage years. (It's no wonder Lee's editors told her to focus more on these childhood memories and make them the heart of the book, which is what became To Kill a Mockingbird.) There was a really great scene about Scout, Jem, and Dill as kids that had me laughing hysterically. • This book deals largely with issues of racism, bigotry, and hypocrisy that are still relevant to this day. I don't think it deals with them extremely well, but the effort is there––and especially at the time it was first written, it would've been quite risky. What didn't work for me:• The characters in this version of the story are not very well-developed. They all kind of seem like mouthpieces to spout different points of view. There are hints of interesting characteristics hiding in there somewhere, but they're not fully realized.• In general, Go Set a Watchman is more political than its predecessor. While To Kill a Mockingbird has a lot more heart and deals with themes of prejudice in a much more compelling way, the "sequel" is largely comprised of characters arguing back and forth. While these arguments have some interesting points, they're quite repetitive and often feel stilted. The final word:I don't think Go Set a Watchman is horrible. I don't think it's great. But I did find it fascinating to read Lee's original concept of To Kill a Mockingbird and see how much had changed from one draft to another. I think it's unfortunate that the publication of this book was so shady, but ultimately I'm glad I had a chance to read it, even if it isn't amazing.---------Pre-review ranting/fangirling under the cut.(view spoiler)[ANOTHER HARPER LEE BOOK????!!!!!AND NOT ONLY THAT BUT A SEQUEL TO TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD??????TKAM is one of my favorite books of all time (yeah yeah I know, just like everyone else on the planet). So UMMMM this is very exciting.That said, the circumstances under which it's being published are a bit sketchy, I must say. From what I understand, Ms. Lee didn't want this book to be published until after she died, because she didn't want to deal with the publicity and people comparing it to TKAM. Her sister was a lawyer who helped her avoid all the press, bad contracts, etc. but her sister recently died. So some say that the publishers have kind of jumped on the opportunity to publish it even though it was against Lee's wishes; but since she's more vulnerable (and I guess a bit senile) they were able to convince her. So, am I upset that HarperCollins is potentially taking advantage of Lee just to make a profit? Yes, I do find it troubling. Supposedly she's said that she's okay with it, though ... so ... eh? Weird circumstances aside, I am still thrilled that it's going to be published at last. I'm sure I'll have trouble not comparing it to TKAM, but I think it's great that we finally get to see more of Lee's work. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Elyse
    2018-11-27 17:05

    "Home for 19 hours and you've already indulged your predilection for ablutionary excesses,hah! A classic example of Watsonian Behaviorism – – I think I'll write you up and sendyou to the AMA 'Journal'." "Hush you old quack," whispered Jean Louise between clenched teeth. "I'm coming to seeyou this afternoon. "You and Hank mollockin' around in the river – –hah! – – ought to be ashamed of yourselves – – disgrace to the family – – have fun?"The editors of "To kill a mockingbird", got it right when they suggested to Harper Lee, she might think about trying again, (when she first presented 'this' manuscript). They suggested she focus on the flashbacks to the life in Maycomb, Alabama, during the Great Depression.... which definitely turned out to be the great choice, the better novel, than"Go Set a Watchman". Yet.....I still enjoyed re-visiting the characters....the small town....and I especially enjoyed the relationship between Scout & Atticus.....( inspiring love) "Go Set a Watchman" ...( divided into seven parts...a small book), has heart...(a little nostalgia for some of us). I appreciate it for what it is. 3.6 rating

  • Diane S ☔
    2018-11-25 16:13

    I decided not to re-read TKAM, which I last read many, many years ago. Thought it would be better not to compare these two books, a first draft is not a prequel or a sequel. As for how this book came to light, as a reader that is not my job either. The book is out there now to be read or not. Actually think it would be more interesting to read this one first and than TKAM, because it gives the reader insights into the creative mind at work, what was changed and edited to make TKAM the successful book it has become.I liked it, alot. Seeing Scout older, Addicus in his seventies was a bit strange but with it I went. Even in this unedited draft of her first manuscript, her love of Monroe County shines through, as do all her characters. Lee's sense of time and place is so very apparent and show in her writing. I loved her Uncle John in this one, such a very wise but eccentric man. Seeing Scouts growing pains, changes in her opinions and ability to articulate what it is she believes, was wonderful. Some of the parts where Scout is thinking back to her childhood were very funny, especially the revival scene.At the end it got a bit preachy, but it clearly defined both her and Atticus's attitudes towards the South and its Black residents.This book in no way changed the way I felt about Atticus, he is still a very wise man, in my opinion. Whether you agree with his opinions or not, they are easily understandable from his position and in keeping with his character, where he lived and when. Since I did not live during this time, I feel I am unable to say if he was right or wrong.A good novel that stands alone in its own right. I am left just wishing she had written more, it was and is a huge loss.

  • Abby
    2018-11-30 15:35

    I've seen that this book has been getting so much flack lately. But that's probably because everyone's treating it like manna from heaven and are therefore disappointed when it's not perfect. Let's remember this very important fact: Go Set a Watchman was written and then shelved by Harper Lee, who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird instead. Hmm... there's probably a reason she opted to do that. I, for one, loved this book for the simple reason that it isn't all sunshine and rainbows. It shows that how we view our parents when we're children may not be the same way we view them as adults, that everyone has a darker side. Thank you, Harper Lee, for showing the nitty gritty of life back in this time.

  • Becca
    2018-11-20 17:05

    Freshman English teachers everywhere gather in the streets. The chanting begins. terror rises. no one is safe. The mockingbird cannot be killed....update:apparently, Atticus is an old racist now. I always knew I would loose the original hot dad, just didn't want it to be like this.

  • BrokenTune
    2018-12-01 16:09

    "Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.”Go Set a Watchman was released this week and despite the warnings that reading this long awaited companion (it is NOT a sequel) to To Kill A Mockingbird may spoil everything I have ever believed about the story and its main characters, I read the book. Mostly, I wanted to see for myself how this supposed manuscript provided the material for one of my favourite books, how it was different, and whether the differences would allow some insight into the mind of one of the most reclusive authors.Having read the book, I have more questions than answers. What I do know for certain is that it has not spoiled my appreciation for To Kill a Mockingbird, a book which is greater than the sum of its parts and the message of which is what will endure.Having read Go Set a Watchman, it does not cast a shadow on the Atticus and Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird, because they are evidently completely different characters struggling against circumstances in what seems like a parallel universe. In a way, Go Set A Watchman is neither a sequel nor an undeveloped manuscript. In a way, Go Set a Watchman is an alternative version altogether - like a standalone book so far removed in character, voice, plot, style even, from To Kill a Mockingbird that comparison by their differences becomes more exhausting than a comparison by their similarities. Call me cynical, but for the first rather uneventful 20% of the book, Go Set a Watchman read like the insipid brainchild of someone who wanted to pay tribute to both To Kill a Mockingbird and Gone With the Wind in their own creation of a work of fan fiction. It was quite funny how scenes taking place in Jean Louise's childhood read like scenes well-loved in To Kill a Mockingbird, but scenes set in Jean Louise's present (a 26-year-old woman returning home from New York City) read like the recreation of an emotionally stilted Scarlett O'Hara. In short, the scenes mismatched and - dare I say it - read doctored, or at best badly self-edited (even for an unedited manuscript). However, it was not only the writing style that was all over the place. For two thirds of the book, I had no idea what the book was driving at, what the book was trying to be even: it started of as something that tried to be a romance novel as much of the early plot focused on Jean Louise's relationship with Henry. Then there were glimpses of Jean Louise's insistence on being an independent woman, hinting at a sort of feminist side to the story. Then these were lost again in favour of her discovery that her home town and even her family turned out to be a bunch of racists.(view spoiler)[ "What was this blight that had come down over the people she loved? Did she see it in stark relief because she had been away from it? Had it percolated gradually through the years until now? Had it always been under her nose for her to see if she had only looked? No, not the last. What turned ordinary men into screaming dirt at the top of their voices, what made her kind of people harden and say “nigger” when the word had never crossed their lips before?" This discovery caused Jean Louise much turmoil and seemed to suggest that the point of the book was to follow her standing up to the society around her, which of course would have been in line with To Kill a Mockingbird. “Cynical, hell. I’m a healthy old man with a constitutional mistrust of paternalism and government in large doses. Your father’s the same—”“If you tell me that power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely I will throw this coffee at you.” However, instead of any of these approaches, the Go Set a Watchman finally settled on the persuasion of Jean Louise to let go of her convictions and accept the racists around her as humans just trying their best to preserve her world, acquiesce, and try and change society little by little without making much fuss. “That’s the one thing about here, the South, you’ve missed. You’d be amazed if you knew how many people are on your side, if side’s the right word. You’re no special case. The woods are full of people like you, but we need some more of you.”She started the car and backed it down the driveway. She said, “What on earth could I do? I can’t fight them. There’s no fight in me any more….”“I don’t mean by fighting; I mean by going to work every morning, coming home at night, seeing your friends.”Why? Because apparently speaking out and standing up for her convictions is childish: “I mean it takes a certain kind of maturity to live in the South these days. You don’t have it yet, but you have a shadow of the beginnings of it. You haven’t the humbleness of mind—”Now, if this had been the straight message delivered by this book, I could have possibly accepted it as a book of its time and place, despite even the presentation of, and what at times seemed a justification of, the vilest of prejudices. (If ever one needed a list of white supremacist reasoning, this book lists them all.) I probably would have rated it a little, tho not much, higher, too.What really got to me, however, was the way that the conclusion was delivered - that Jean Louise's bigotry was caused by her textbook pseudo-Freudian father-fixation, and that she needed a good slap to snap out of it - and she did. “… now you, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father’s. As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings— I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers.” (hide spoiler)]Because, really, what the world needs more of are patronising amateur psychologists telling women to shut up and accept that racism is just natural.Oh, please."I need a watchman to lead me around and declare what he seeth every hour on the hour. I need a watchman to tell me this is what a man says but this is what he means, to draw a line down the middle and say here is this justice and there is that justice and make me understand the difference. I need a watchman to go forth and proclaim to them all that twenty-six years is too long to play a joke on anybody, no matter how funny it is."

  • Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
    2018-12-10 14:27

    Got a copy in my hot hands... I'm just saving it for the right moment, so I can dive in and not come up for air till I am done with it!! Because life has a thing about annoying me, while I'm reading. :)Just read the first chapter on The Wall Street Journal's site.I'm glad I did because it's going to be awesome!!! Then the bombshell that is revealed mid chapter had me in a turrets fit and I started to cry. :(Pre-ordered this on Amazon!!Holy cow!!!!I'm so excited.To Kill a Mockingbird is my favorite book EVER. :D

  • Lindsey Rey
    2018-11-17 15:15

    [4.5 Stars]

  • Michael Finocchiaro
    2018-12-01 17:11

    As beautiful and powerful as To Kill A Mockingbird was, with a fantastic Atticus Finch defending an innocent black man against charges of rape brought by a white woman in pre-60s Alabama, one would like to hope that a followup book by Harper Lee featuring the same protagonists would be similarly impressive. I read many frontal attacks on this book here on Goodreads and am a bit "partagé" as we say in French. On one hand, I like Lee's easy going prose, her southern speech inflections, her strong-willed Jean Louise (Scout at 26 years old back home from NYC), and her nostalgic writing about the south. On the other hand, I was disappointed with the shallowness and one-dimensionality of her beau, Henri Clinton, the absence of my favorite character Boo Radley, and the vapid conclusion which seemed to be about fighting racism from within the KKK or Citizen's Councils. Calling Jean Louise a "turnip-sized bigot" is how Atticus' brother Uncle Jack dismisses her natural (and justified) revulsion to the hate-tinged speech of the segregationists. I also found it a stretch to see Jean Louise "shocked and angered" by the Supreme Court's decision to forcibly de-segregate the South. That seemed in my humble (and originally southerner's) mind to be a contradiction in her character. The whole story has a bit too much of an anti-climactic feel to it as - especially given the high stakes of Mockingbird - here we are just given a "crise de conscience" of Jean Louise that leads to a sort of peaceful acceptance of cohabitation (albeit perhaps not permanent) between her and her now-unveiled-as-a-racist father. How apropos though when we are in the context of the reappearance of white supremacism in the forefront of the news and the hideous comments from Drumpf trying to cast blame on "many sides." There were a few quote-worthy moments in the book: "It was not because this was where your life began. It was because this was where the people were born and born until finally the result was you, drinking a Coke in the Jitney Jungle." (P. 154). So, while I was quite disappointed in how this story panned out, it still gets 3 stars for talking about the unspeakable, in relatively vague terms however, about how someone from the South who is "color-blind" tries to reconcile her beliefs in equality for all to the belief system in the south which is born and bread on inequality and victorian sexual mores (this much is explicit in the characters of the aforementioned Uncle Jack as well as his and Atticus' sister, Aunty Zandra). If you have not already read To Kill A Mockingbird or seen the epic film version, please do not deprive yourself. However, Go Set A Watchman is not really required reading unless you are, like me, someone born in the south and trying to make sense of the wave of racial hate spewed by Republicans and Drumpf in the current administration in terms of its origin and how to wipe it out.

  • Helen Ροζουλί Εωσφόρος Vernus Portitor Arcanus Ταμετούρο Αμούν Arnum
    2018-11-17 13:20

    Και να που η μικρή αφηγήτρια με τον αυθόρμητο χαρακτήρα,με την αγνή αντιδραστική στάση σε όλο το κατεστημένο και κυρίως με την αγάπη που της μεταγγισαν -σαν ιερό άχρωμο αιμα- τα πρότυπα του περιβάλλοντος της, φτάνει ενήλικη πια να επιστρέφει στην παλιά της γειτονιά, στο πατρικό της σπιτι, στα πολύτιμα όνειρα των παιδικών της χρόνων...και ενώ ολα ειναι εκεί και την περιμένουν, ταυτόχρονα απουσιάζουν. Που ειναι ο αδελφός της; τι συμβαίνει με τον πατέρα της που υπερασπιζόταν ενάντια σε όλους τα απαξιωμένα "κοτσύφια";Που έχουν παει όλοι οι φίλοι της;Οι δικοί της άνθρωποι;Η νεγρα νταντά που τη μεγάλωσε σαν μάνα;Ξεπεράστηκε το πένθος και ο χρόνος που αφιέρωναν ως τιμή στο τραγούδι των κοτσυφιων;Ολα έχουν αλλάξει. Υπάρχει μια ψυχρή στάση ασφαλείας. - κάπου εδω απογοητεύομαι και γω και αναζητώ με πάθος τον Άττικους των κοτσυφιων, θυμώνω, χάνω την εμπιστοσύνη μου και κατανοώ απολύτως, ταυτίζομαι με την Σκαουτ. Χάθηκαν τα ιδεώδη και οι αξίες περί ίσων δικαιωμάτων και ελευθερίας. Κατακρημνίστηκαν τα ινδάλματα και τα εξιδανικευμενα πρόσωπα απο το θρόνο τους. Δεν υπάρχουν ήρωες και υπέρμαχοι της ισότητας. Άλλη μια φορά κέρδισε το ρατσιστικό ατομικό συμφέρον. Δε σας κρύβω συνέχισα να διαβάσω με μεγάλη απογοήτευση και μια αίσθηση διάψευσης προς ολα και κυρίως προς τα μηνύματα που μου πέρασε η συγγραφέας στο πρώτο βιβλίο. Μέχρι που αναρωτήθηκα γιατι συμβαίνει αυτό; Γιατι το κάνει; Μήπως κάτι δεν έχω καταλάβει; Μήπως συνεχίζω να βαυκαλιζομαι με τα παραμύθια με αίσιο τέλος και όλους τους καλούς νικητές;Εδω άρχισα μαζί τη Σκαουτ να απομυθοποιώ τα μεγάλα λόγια, να αποστασιοποιούμαι απο τη γενικότητα της πλάνης να καταλαβαίνω το μεγαλείο της γραφής της Χάρπερ Λη. Βάλε έναν φύλακα. Το δικό σου φύλακα. Τη συνείδηση σου. Μην παγιδεύεται στη συλλογική συνείδηση. Μην ψάχνεις για αναίμακτες νίκες. Τίποτα δεν ειναι δεδομένο. Μην αντιδράς με εγωισμό και μισαλλοδοξία. Επιλεξε τη θέση σου στον κόσμο και δώσε τις δικές σου μαχες όσο μπορείς απο όπου μπορείς. Τότε βλέπεις καθαρά, τότε αγαπάς πραγματικά τα πάντα όπως ακριβώς ειναι με σύντροφο το δικό σου "φύλακα".Καταπληκτικό βιβλίο. Πεθαίνει ένας μύθος και γεννιέται μια πραγματικότητα. Καλή ανάγνωση.Πολλούς ασπασμούς!

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)
    2018-12-15 16:11

    I was actually gifted a copy of this book (many thanks Eddie!!!!) and today I received notice from the library that the copy I put on hold umpteen months ago was available for pick up (in case you aren't aware, I'm not so bright). I realize there are two sides to every story and that obviously I'm not truly privy to either when it comes to the circumstances surrounding the release of this book, but I've decided that (at this point in time at least) I don't feel compelled to read it. I simply can't run the risk that my first hero is merely a mortal man and I can't have two of my best childhood friends turn out to be people I don't like when they grow up.ORIGINAL REVIEW:Talk about having unrealistic expectations for perfection. Holy crap. Must. Calm. Down.

  • Jon
    2018-12-12 17:07

    All controversy aside, I'm still rooting for Harper Lee and for this novel to be amazing!

  • Angela M
    2018-11-24 17:28

    3.5 stars.My first inclination was to say that this book should not have been published . So much controversy and so much press and so many reviews for a book that perhaps wasn't meant to be published but yet here it is . It would be sad to know that it was published without Harper Lee's approval, but we have no way of really knowing for sure . In spite of what I don't know , there was never a minute when I thought I wouldn't read it .How to look at - a rough draft , a first novel in need of an editor as it's been described ? I find it totally impossible to look at this separately from TKAM as so many others have said they've done . We have TKAM because of GSAW. I immediately felt the style of writing was so familiar. I went in reading this believing that this was the seed for what became the great classic that so many of us love and I can definitely see it as that . And it was a seed , certainly not the perfect book that it became .Jean Louise will forever be Scout to me no matter that she is Jean Louise in this book and I have to admit for all the standing up for her ideals and standing up to Atticus , I liked her better as young Scout . I admired her conviction, but thought quite honestly that she behaved badly , in spite of the different Atticus. My favorite parts of the book were the flashbacks to Scout's childhood when we see Jem and Dill again who are not in the present story. So sad about Jem and I missed Dill . Calpurnia was only here briefly except for the flashbacks and the short reunion between Calpurnia and Jean Louise was rather sad but enlightening . What can I say about Atticus ? Of course I loved him TKAM and I'll forever see him as Gregory Peck portrayed him. Is he the same man in this book . Sadly , he is not . He is a racist but is the product of his time and place . Bringing us to that specific time and place is what Harper Lee is so good at . It's hard to think about Atticus this way, but we will forever have the man that Lee wanted him to be in TKAM . This book did change my feelings for TKAM . It gave me a greater appreciation for it .

  • Tehanu
    2018-11-20 13:18

    OH, YOU TWO!!OF COURSE THIS HAD TO HAPPEN IN THE YEAR THAT BOTH JURASSIC PARK AND STAR WARS CAME BACK!! 2015: THE YEAR OF THE RETURNS!!