Books, Fiction, Reviews

BOOK REVIEW: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Despite all the criticism the book will continue to receive in coming days, months, and years, I think you should read Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee if you have read To Kill A Mockingbird. I cannot argue about the timing of the publishing of the book. I think it is fair that it got published after fifty-five years of Lee’s first novel and I am curious about what would have happened if this book would have published many years before.

The story starts as Jean Lousie, twenty-six years old, returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus Finch, now seventy-two and crippled by arthritis. Considered as the sequel the book is 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.

While my fellow critics may claim that the plot is loosely bound, I would say there is nothing wrong with the plot of this book. It is not as unique it’s prequel, but it is an average plot. There are glimpses of Harper Lee’s wonderful narration, the kind which we get to read in To Kill A Mockingbird. The characters are not well build and I think the author has assumed the build up shall be continued from the prequel. The scenes described by the author are either loosely bound or some of them are just average. Nothing extraordinary is there in the book except that it reveals the darker side of renowned, Atticus Finch, who is considered by her daughter as her hero, and by the readers as a perfectly honourable man. You will be slightly  shocked on reading to know about how a man who prioritized equality and justice over race, gender and other norms of society has become one of them, whom he despised.

It is a shock when we admire someone for the something does exactly the opposite of that ‘something’. The case here is similar and it is the reference of the time that people change and one’s surroundings affect one deeply and may turn him in to one of the demons the society is full of. That oneself is the puppet of his own surroundings. Go Set A Watchman is an example of the scenario described and Atticus Finch is the puppet. The book is a perfect example of the toxicity of the society and how venomous it can be. It is annoying to see something similar happen to someone you are close to but people change and especially with time.

I think the novel’s ending is not at all satisfying and Lee should have considered changing it or come to a stiff conclusion that would have been perfect in this case. I don’t blame the author, since all of the characters are her creations, it is totally up to her to do whatever with them. There is a lesson in this book too, but it’s a pity that it the lesson itself is under-shadowed by the author.

Go Set A Watchman, does not full fills the standard set by To Kill A Mockingbird and is an average novel to read.

3 out of 5

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27 thoughts on “BOOK REVIEW: Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee”

  1. Can I just tell you how extremely, utterly, unbelievably ENVIOUS of you having read that book? Although the rating came as a surprise for me, but I am still looking forward to reading it. To Kill a Mockingbird taught me a lot and got me through a lot as well…Good review!

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    1. Thanks, and don’t be envious of me, do get your hands on the book. It will not teach as much as TKAM but there’s only one lesson to be learned and that you will realise when read it. Do share with me your view when you are done.

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      1. I will! I almost fainted when I saw the news few months ago that Lee has this book to release! I look like a crazy stalker at bookstores looking for it haha! I’m thinking about buying the TKAM with the new cover together with Go Set A Watchman!

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  2. I’m an English Lit. student and I still haven’t read To Kill a Mockingbird! It’s such a classic, but I just never studied it at GCSE so I’ve never had the chance to read it. I have read all the criticism about Go Set a Watchman and I can understand why people might be disappointed, especially when hopes are set so high from the first popular novel! It would be like J.K.Rowling releasing a shockingly awful sequel to the Harry Potter series; there would be uproar. Nice review, thanks for sharing 🙂

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  3. Ah, the racial grievance industry! Where regress is our most important product.
    Here’s an American political secret: If racial harmony were achieved, the Democrat Party would be out of business. So they make it their business to see that the pot is kept boiling.
    Which is why this book was dragged out of Harper Lee’s trunk after almost 60 years.

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  4. Given that Harper Lee probably wrote this book over 50 years ago, never edited, and didn’t have the mental wherewithal to have anything to do with its current publication, I’m surprised that you’re criticizing her. There’s a reason she never wanted to publish this and didn’t intend to

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  5. I have heard so much hullaballoo over this much-awaited sequel to TKAM, and I am very anxious about reading it. Much like I feared, this novel doesn’t seem to live up to its predecessor, though I shall read it nevertheless, for Atticus’ sake.

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  6. From everything I’ve read and heard in the publishing world, it sounds like Go Set a Watchman was more of a first draft than a finished product. Like this was her starting point and an editor rejected it and suggested she tell a story about racism from a child’s point of view instead (which became To Kill a Mockingbird).

    I’m tempted to read Go Set a Watchman, but I know I don’t want anyone reading MY first drafts, so I’ll probably skip it, despite all the talk about it. It could be interesting to see how much the story changed, but I feel sad that so many people are thinking of it as a sequel. I suspect looking at it that way will kind of tarnish their view of the Atticus they loved in Mockingbird.

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    1. since it published after TKAM, and the story takes us ahead instead, I consider it as a sequel. I think you should it give it a read, and make your own opinion. This book is more about Scout than Atticus Finch.

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  7. Reblogged this on Ms M's Bookshelf and commented:
    This is a first for me: I’m reblogging a post I haven’t actually read yet. I’m waiting until after I’ve read the book for myself. But that’s no reason why you shouldn’t read Aman’s review of the book. For more than a week now, all my posts (save the Mystery Monday meme) have had to do with Harper Lee. I hope you’ve been enjoying them and that you’ll also enjoy my Sunday reblog!

    Liked by 1 person

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