Go Set A Watchman
Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Harper Collins 2015
Hardcover Edition: 278 pages
Source: Library copy
This book has come into print amidst much publicity and the memories of the many readers who hold Harper Lee’s Pulitzer winner To Kill A Mockingbird in high esteem. Many readers thought we knew the story behind this book. Some wondered at what the publishers were about; well, making money of course and that is the business. Some readers couldn’t wait to get their hands on anything written by Harper Lee. Some of us were much more skeptical and even certain Go Set would not be a personal reading choice.
Instead, this naysayer found pleasure in sinking into Harper Lee’s familiar prose about a familiar place. The description of Maycomb, Alabama, the place and the people brings to life another time and place with nostalgia and magic. When a grown-up Jean Louise ––Scout––returns home from New York for a visit, she sees her childhood love, her beloved father Atticus, and all her family and the community with a different eye than previously. As is often true, losing memories and assumptions brings her pain.
The novel has something important to say about race relations. Race continues to be a very big issue in our country as it has been for many years. The landscape may change, but the issue remains. Seeing the situation in 1950’s rural Alabama informs us about the issue as we may see it today. These characters share some of their wisdom. Which is not to say that readers will not identify with Jean Louise’s passion and viewpoint. She’s a strong character. She plunges into living with a heartfelt conscience.
More experienced critics have dissected the book. Google Go Set A Watchman reviews if you wish a learned look at the book.
I found it an enjoyable read. Yes, the familiar characters and Lee’s strong writing of place were major reasons. Most readers remember when they began to see “home” differently from how they had seen it previously, and thus identify with Jean Louise, her memories, and her painful discoveries. The book moves along pleasantly, especially if a reader enjoys childhood fun and long family discussions on the important issues of life.
So, this reader is eating a double helping of crow with all the trimmings. I’m glad I read this book. I enjoyed the read. Especially, if you are a Harper Lee fan, don’t miss it.