Go Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman: A Novel by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman: A Novel

byHarper Lee

Hardcover | July 14, 2015

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#1 New York Times Bestseller

Go Set a Watchman is such an important book, perhaps the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades…
   — New York Times (Opinion Pages)

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

Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—“Scout”—returns home to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of the late 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.

Harper Lee was born in 1926 in Monroeville, Alabama. She attended Huntingdon College and studied law at the University of Alabama. She is the author of two novels,To Kill a MockingbirdandGo Set a Watchman. Harper Lee has been awarded numerous literary awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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Title:Go Set a Watchman: A NovelFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.04 inPublished:July 14, 2015Publisher:HarperCollinsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0062409859

ISBN - 13:9780062409850

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Reviews

Rated 2 out of 5 by from Could Not Hold a Candle to Mockingbird While it was great that Harper Lee decided to publish some of her unfinished work. For those who are fans of To Kill A Mockingbird do not expect the same characters for literary quality. Since this was found among Lee's papers, I understand the rushed and scattered format. However, as a complete novel, you are better off with the original classic.
Date published: 2017-12-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Overrated to the max really overrated. Just exploiting the authors previous success.
Date published: 2017-12-07
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Okay I enjoyed this book, but not as much as the author's other works.
Date published: 2017-12-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from good book I love this book, it was such a great read I could not put it down #plumreview
Date published: 2017-12-01
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Provides some insight for fans of the To Kill A Mockingbird Provides some insight for fans of the To Kill A Mockingbird. Not the masterpiece To Kill A Mockingbird was, but I still enjoyed reading it.
Date published: 2017-11-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Thrilling You will keep on reading if you have already read To kill a mockingbird
Date published: 2017-11-18
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Some stories are better left untold There are some things that are better left alone and this was true for this sequel. To kill a mockingbird was just such a triumph I felt that regardless this booked had just too much hype to live up to. It was a disappointing read into the lives of some of my favourite characters. To kill a mockingbird should have been a stand alone story, sometimes the end should really be the end. I am glad I read it but I will not be rereading it.
Date published: 2017-11-16
Rated 2 out of 5 by from I expected more! It was okay. I really don't remember much. Still glad I read it. Read only if you loved To Kill A Mockingbird.
Date published: 2017-11-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Slow Moving It cannot compare to the original in that it was not meant to be published.
Date published: 2017-10-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Awful I was so disappointed in this sequel - To Kill a Mockingbird is 1000000X times better. Boring, pointless stories of Scout's past that do not add to the story AT ALL. Almost no plot, just boring stories, and little discussion about racial prejudices - pointless, unfinished, waste of time.
Date published: 2017-10-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Surprisingly Dull I was very excited for this book, as To Kill a Mockingbird has been one of my favourite books for most of my life. I really, really wanted to like this one, but it was extremely dull for the first 3/4. The ending was pretty good, and there were some parts that I enjoyed, but the way it was written and the supreme lack of events made it not worth the read.
Date published: 2017-10-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from There's a reason this wasn't meant to be published This was meant to be a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, and it shows. Not only does it tarnish a beloved character, there's some inherent racism throughout that makes the whole thing really difficult to swallow. Harper Lee apparently was strong-armed by her publisher to release this version and it's a shame. Hopefully people will dismiss it and not hold too much weight on it being a "sequel".
Date published: 2017-09-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It was a ride! I was initially hesitant about buying this because I loved "To Kill a Mockingbird" so much that I didn't want this novel to change my opinion. However, Ms. Lee wrote this really well so it wouldn't kill your hopes and favourite characters. Once you're finished reading, it all truly makes sense considering the time and age. It was so worth the buy, despite being a slight bore at the beginning.
Date published: 2017-08-29
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee This is the book I went into with pretty low expectations I tried my hardest not to be spoiled or get anyone else's opinion stuck in my head before I started the book. However I did talk to other book readers about the book before starting it just to see what they thought or if they thought I shouldn't even read it. I feel like there was a lot of typos and grammar errors that could've been fixed even though this was a rough draft of the book. It's a vibe for the book is pretty strong if you read Harper Lee before you know what vibe she gives when she is writing a book as well as the writing style she uses. I think this book brings up a lot of ideas and opinions that even people in today's world years and years later still have and it was eye opening to think outside of what i’m used to. This was such a complicated book to put into words after finishing it. I dont really like it, and doesn't compare to my love for To Kill A Mockingbird.
Date published: 2017-08-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not that great It was a very easy ready, mildly entertaining, but had a lot of holes. It was almost like it was an unedited, unfinished version of what could have been a great story.
Date published: 2017-08-23
Rated 1 out of 5 by from If "To Kill a Mockingbird" is a favourite, leave this one alone Really looked forward to reading this and now I wish I hadn't. The book is no where near as grand as To Kill a Mockingbird and even works to turn you against characters you once loved. The story (if there is one...) is sluggish and never really reaches the reader. Perhaps this is the high expectations talking, but I would not recommend "Go Set a Watchman".
Date published: 2017-06-30
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Disappointing I agree with others that this book was never intended to be published in its state. It lacks the grandeur of To Kill A Mockingbird and I found it very boring until maybe the last 10 pages. If you enjoy this author, only read the first book. Don't bother with this one. #plumreviews
Date published: 2017-06-30
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Watchman Good, but nowhere near as great as the first novel
Date published: 2017-06-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Fantastic The book was interesting, great plot, and amazing cover.
Date published: 2017-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from loved it! I barely put the book down. Having the characters back and following an older scout was wonderful in itself but following the journey and learning more about maycomb was an enjoyable journey!
Date published: 2017-05-08
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Dishonours its predecessor Maybe it is completely unfair to compare this book to its predecessor, "To Kill a Mockingbird", but it was impossible not to. I found my lips curling into a tight smile as I reacquainted myself with an older Jean Louise Finch, aka Scout, and equally found those same lips droop into a sad frown as I learned that her brother Jem had died in the interim. But the biggest shock was what both I and Jean Louise learned at the same time: her father, the indomitable Atticus Finch, was a racist. What? How? He explains himself, eventually, to his daughter, and says that he defended "negroes" in court because every man is entitled to a fair trial, but that doesn't change the fact that they are simple and that they should never be counted on. Jean Louise is devastated, having grown up with the ideal that all men were equal in every way, and having learned that from her father. But Atticus maintains his views, and Jean Louise eventually accepts that his views don't make him a bad man, but rather more human than she once imagined. Ok, I get the theme of learning that your parents (in this case father) are not infallible, and that they have flaws too, but this...this is too big a flaw in a character idolized by many as one of the 20th century's greatest literary personas. I grew up worshipping my father, but as I grew older I come to realize that he is human and isn't perfect, but Atticus Finch was supposed to be better than this. I can understand why Harper Lee didn't want this book to be published, but once the lawyers gained control of its rights, then the idea of making money far outweighed the methodical destruction of the illusion of the existence of a great man.
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A long-awaited sequel Bought this for a teacher who loves classic literature and was itching to get her hands on the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, and she was very excited to read it
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It was okay.. not up to Lee's standard though Really wanted to love this and love almost everything by Lee. The language and sequence of events was somewhat challenging to follow and wasn't as riveting, but it's worth pushing through.
Date published: 2017-01-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Shatter Your Illusions, and Ego The father you've always wanted is now the uncle you refuse to talk about at parties. Excellent pairing to the first book, even if it was the second.
Date published: 2017-01-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Expected better i know this is an earlier work of harper lee but it didn't really do to kill a mockingbird justice
Date published: 2017-01-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it! The writing was just as strong as it was in To Kill a Mockingbird! The book complicates its predecessor and while in some ways I wish we could view Atticus only through the originally published novel, I am still glad that I got to read this! I learned a lot from it!
Date published: 2017-01-03
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Terrible Did not make past chapter 4
Date published: 2016-12-31
Rated 1 out of 5 by from god awful this should have remained unpublished
Date published: 2016-12-25
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great book Really enjoyed this one. You may be disappointed if your expecting a TKaMB sequel (which this is not).
Date published: 2016-12-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Let down, still a good read I was expecting a "sequel" to TKaM, one of my all-time favourite novels. This was not it. Characters were very different, although it still proved to be a good read and social commentary. If it was not related to TKaM and Scout and Atticus I would have enjoyed it a lot more. But because of the attachments I have to those characters I was let down. Would not recommend to someone who believes it to be a sequel.
Date published: 2016-12-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Adjust your expectations If you're expecting a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, or you aren't aware of the circumstances of the publishing (Google it!) you will need to adjust your expectations. This is an unedited manuscript written before TKaM was in existence. It is not the beloved version of the characters you know (Atticus in particular). That being said I still gave it 3 stars based on the social commentary value of the novel. Although I didn't like some of the characters I previously did, I feel like this version of them probably is a bit more true to the time period than the ultra-idealistic ones described in TKaM. I also see many ways that this novel could be used to more honestly discuss the racist views held by those who see themselves as 'allies' - and to explore how many people are unaware of how condescending their views of others really are. Don't expect a literary masterpiece, do expect interesting social issues presented with less polish.
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from liked clearly unfinished but there were some good moments
Date published: 2016-12-08
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Never should have been published The plot of this book is Jean Louise Finch becoming disenfranchised with her father, learning that he's not the liberal, open-minded, accepting man that she thought defied times and Southern culture. Atticus Finch is now a supporter of the KKK. If To Kill A Mockingbird had never been published, I think I would've liked this book. Many children grow up and learn that their parents are neither perfect nor wholly good. It's an interesting plot-line. Can you love your father unconditionally even if he believes in the subjugation and segregation of black people? Yes, it's an interesting idea. But these aren't brand new characters: THEY'RE SCOUT AND ATTICUS. They are beloved characters from a beloved book. I can see now why Harper Lee never wanted this book published in the first place.
Date published: 2016-12-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from let down I really really wanted to love this book because Harper lee is amazing but it just didn't do it for me. You can definitely tell this was early in her career and she needed more polishing
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Understanding Why this Wasn't Published Till Now Scout's story of growing up and the women's experience of a time in the deep south was interesting. However the book lacked the endearing story and powerful themes of To Kill a Mockingbird. I can understand why Harper Lee didn't set out to publish this.
Date published: 2016-11-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not a Novel Ignoring all the troubling elements around the publishing of this manuscript - it's painfully clear while reading how much this story needed an editor. It features terrible stream of conscious writing and fails to function even as a glimpse into the creation of to kill a mockingbird.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Just Ok I read this thinking it would be as good as to catch a mockingbird... it is not.
Date published: 2016-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Left me wanting more. I am glad I read this book, because Lee's first book is such as a classic. I found that the themes were profound and quite relevant, but I didn't feel like there was much character development.
Date published: 2016-11-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright As to be expected, it was not as good as the original since clearly it had not been completely finished by Harper Lee. I'm a little disappointed but if you loved 'To Kill a Mockingbird' , I believe you should read this at least once!
Date published: 2016-11-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointed I should have known better!!! This book was a huge disappointment. To Kill A Mockingbird was and still is a classic and should never have been tampered with.
Date published: 2016-11-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Brilliant I love this book a lot. The best way to sum it up would be to say that it takes everything that you thought you knew about certain characters, and tears it down. Your whole perception changes. It's very interesting, and I enjoyed it a lot.
Date published: 2016-11-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from i read it knowing ... i read it knowing i would be disappointed, but didn't care. i'm glad i read it - i think every Harper Lee fan has wanted this for all these years, right? yes, it's awful, a poorly-written bit of closure to the Finch world
Date published: 2016-11-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Go Set A Watchman And Me So now we finally know what happened to Scout. And quite a few simply did not like the result. At all. My feelings fall right down the middle. But only about the story. For those not in the know, I am going on about Go Set A Watchman, the sequel to the book To Kill A Mockingbird. Back in 1960, author Harper Lee published her first novel, a coming of age tale set in the 1930’s about a young girl called Scout. She lives a tomboy life with her widowed father, the saintly Atticus, and her older brother. As time goes by, Atticus gets involved as a lawyer for a local racially charged trial, one with far reaching consequences. Legions of fans, including myself, fell in love with this amazing classic story about love, justice, society, parents, and learning what is right. We also all kinda realized Scout was Lee. The award winning book spawned an award winning movie, released in 1962 and starring Gregory Peck. And Harper Lee just went back to living to her life, eventually shunning publicity, and not publishing anything at all for decades and decades. Until her new lawyer found an old manuscript and the now over eighty year old Lee gave the go ahead to publish. Much controversy ensued as many thought the lawyer was controlling and using the elderly Lee to her advantage, all for profit. I fully believe Lee did want this book published, since everything I have heard about her is of a lady very much in charge of her faculties. Now as for the controversy with the actual book, which also blew up social media. It is very overblown to say the least. And it is all about Atticus. Go Set A Watchman takes place years after Mockingbird, with a now adult Scout heading back to town since she is now living in New York. Her fiancé and Atticus still reside in town and she mostly gets along quite well with both of them. Her aunt is constantly riding her about how to be proper and a lady, while her uncle is supportive and quirky. Scout can tell she does not quite fit in with the town or people or family. So much has changed but also not changed, and it is obvious Scout is not a happy camper with it all. But partway through Watchman, Scout finds out Atticus has joined a local Citizens Council, along with her fiancé, and this shatters her into a zillion pieces of emotions. These Councils were just fancy ways to disguise racist activities and discussions. The life of Scout careens like a crazed ping pong ball as she tries to grapple with Atticus and his involvement with these people. Why? What does it mean? Was all of his teachings a flat out lie? This revelation also rocked the real world, as breathless headlines, online and not, were flipping out about the sullying of the eternally beloved Atticus. What these people fail to realize is that Atticus’s attitude is not a full and complete betrayal of what came before. Our previous example of Atticus is, as Watchman points out, partly a construct of a child’s understanding of the world and the people in it. Atticus is still a good man in many many ways, who tries to move forward in his own way, but he simply cannot live up to what Scout thinks and feels and lives as to what he is. Which is another issue the disgruntled and disillusioned fans cannot seem to grasp. This Atticus is a bit more realistic then the Mockingbird version. A man born in his time, raised where and when he was, would be probably be way more conservative, and never even take on the law case from the first book. His views here are still repugnant and repellant, but are positively progressive compared to the rest of Citizen’s Council. Atticus Finch may not be a Liberal God anymore, but this one seems more in tune with being a true flawed human being. As for the writing of Go Set A Watchman, it is easy to see Lee being behind the typewriter. But the wonderful flow and rhythm from Mockingbird is not really evident at first here. It is not until the Atticus revelation that the true beauty of Lee’s writing takes hold and the slightly clunky beginning fades away. All through Watchman Lee does flashbacks, sometime quite extensive, showing us snippets of Scout’s upbringing over the years. These are interesting and dire and really tells us so much more about Scout and the time she exists in. One bit of past history that is mentioned a few times is the story of To Kill A Mockingbird, with one interesting twist here. Because Watchman was written before Mockingbird, in this version of reality Atticus won the case. This is a bit jarring and snapped me out of the story a few times. Which is why in my personal headcannon, Go Set A Watchman can be a sequel to Mockingbird and I am fine with it. But also in my personal headcannon, Watchman can be an alternative Earth 2 version of what might have happened after To Kill A Mockingbird. In my review long ago for To Kill A Mockingbird, I envisioned Scout marrying Dill and she becomes a lawyer. And they would have a son named Atticus. I still believe Scout will name her child Atticus.
Date published: 2016-06-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A huge disappointment! i managed to read about four chapters of this book before I put it down (for ever). There is no way that Harper Lee wrote this book! It reads like a cheap novel. Someone took advantage of her and made a lot of money, but you can't fool people who studied To Kill a Mockingbird in school with a really good English teacher. Don't waste your money on this book!!
Date published: 2016-06-11
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A huge disappointment! i managed to read about four chapters of this book before I put it down (for ever). There is no way that Harper Lee wrote this book! It reads like a cheap novel. Someone took advantage of her and made a lot of money, but you can't fool people who studied To Kill a Mockingbird in school with a really good English teacher. Don't waste your money on this book!!
Date published: 2016-06-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Simply Interesting I pre-ordered the novel back when it was first released and read it instantly. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting when I read the novel, but I feel that someone who is genuinely interested in literature, as I am, should definitely read this novel. Simply put, if this novel (unedited, bland storyline, etc.) had been released in place of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' students across North America would not know the name Harper Lee as they do now. That being said, I found it extremely interesting looking at this rough idea, this first draft of what morphed itself into our beloved 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' So what is Atticus has a different personality? So what if it is not a fairytale ending? Being able to read the same novel that Harper Lee's publisher rejected gave depth to the writing process that evolved into 'To Kill a Mockingbird.' If anything, I recommend reading this novel specifically out of interest, do not read it for an inspiring storyline because you will not find it! Read this novel for a love of books and out of pure interest!
Date published: 2015-10-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from should never have been released !! Just bought it to satisfy my curiosity as to why it suddenly comes out at this point in time all these years later...thought Harper didn't want it published and didn't want to write again, well now I see why it was not put out back then...to put it bluntly, it stinks, big disappointment...do I smell someone cashing in on some ones good name for the almighty buck ??...do I smell elder abuse ??...do I smell...leave us all with the memory of that great literary classic To Kill a Mockingbird, and not this C grade drivel...
Date published: 2015-10-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from the biggest disappointment for this year To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my fav novel, I had a high expectation on this release. I putted the release date on my calendar and purchased it on the first day. Thisis the biggest disappointment I had for this year. I couldn't believe who once wrote "Well I'm gonna be a new kind of clown. I'm gonna stand in the middle of the ring and laugh at the folks." came up this.
Date published: 2015-10-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Middling I’ve never read Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. My first encounter with To Kill a Mockingbird was as a 9th Grader listening to the 10th Graders in Goethals Memorial School in the Himalayan foothills, discussing it on the walk down from the dorms to school some mornings, It was on the English curriculum. I was intrigued and asked a friend to loan me a copy. When I held the book in my hands, I was turned off by its uninspiring exterior. I decided there and then that reading it was ‘schoolwork’, not real reading, and dropped it there and then. It was only years later that I watched To Kill a Mockingbird on TV in Canada, and was riveted. I’ve watched the movie 3 times. When the big news story about the prequel, Go Set a Watchman, broke a few months ago, my wife insisted on purchasing a copy. We did. I finished reading the book last night. I read the novel more out of curiousity to know how life evolves for the great hero of To Kill a Mockingbird and his two children... My thoughts… I approached the book with a great deal of pent-up anticipation and high regard for Ms. Lee’s story-telling skills (or does the credit rightfully belong to Cary Grant’s acting skills?). So, there was a bias in Ms. Lee’s favour right from Page 1. The one thought that dominated all else in my reading was that I found it hard to believe this novel was written in 1957 and was a prequel to To Kill a Mockingbird. For one thing, Jean Louise’s thought processes belong more to the USA of the Eighties or Nineties and seem to be retrofitted to the language of the Fifties. There are some strange coincidences of newsworthy tidbits from the nineties, and more recently, which seem to have been grabbed by the scruff and somehow shoved into the narrative – like Dr. Finch talking about Stanley, Dean of Westminster, digging up the Abbey to unearth the grave of James the First. The reader is forced to endure a most confusing, pretentiously intellectual exchange between Dr. Finch and Jean Louise in the final few chapters. Before that, there’s an entire chapter devoted to the high school dance episode - -totally unnecessary to the novel and excruciating to read, but then I suppose, the additional pages must have added $1.50 the book’s sale price. The most poignant lines in the novel are on page 137, where the burden of a false, unwanted pregnancy is finally lifted from Scout’s young mind – ‘as Calpurnia’s husky voice drove out her year’s accumulation of terror, Jean Louise felt life return. She breathed deeply and felt cool autumn in her throat. She heard sausages hissing in the kitchen…’ My overall impression... not really a novel. Some great humour in the Alexandra's Tea portion where we get a peek into Jean Louise's refreshingly rebellious mind. Other than that? Not much to say. Glad to hear the protagonists are still alive... except for Jem.
Date published: 2015-09-12
Rated 3 out of 5 by from A little heavy for summer I love the way Harper Lee puts the reader into the small town south. Found the story a little weak. Huge verbal conflict between major characters ends the book.
Date published: 2015-08-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Gutsy Novel Let's be clear. Go Set a Watchman is definitely written by Harper Lee — sharp humour, witty repartee, graceful phrasing, adult, educated vocabulary, and wonderful literary references — and nothing about it suggests that it could have been edited to create To Kill a Mockingbird — it is totally new. It's easy to see why Lee's agent didn't want to publish it in 1960. Even readers today are incensed at the idea that Atticus might be harbouring racist thoughts, which is, after all, what Jean Louise, age 26, thinks when she returns home for her 5th annual 2-week vacation. Read it through to the end to learn that Jean Louise needs to escape her childhood hero-worship of Atticus, think for herself, and to listen to people who don't necessarily agree with her. Listen to what she hears at the courthouse during the Maycomb County Citizens' Council, to her argument with Atticus, to the one with Hank, and the one with her uncle. Find out what she learns about herself, her father, and her beliefs. Jean Louise is still rather naïve despite the fact she's been living and working in New York City and she has grown up, been brought up to be, is colour blind. Not in the physical sense, but when she looks at people who are a different colour than her (or language, or accent, or religion, or whatever makes them different) she doesn't see it — she sees a person. But she's been away from Maycomb for several years, hasn't seen the changes, and hasn't heard the arguments. In this book, Jean Louise is telling the story in the era it's happening — the fifties. She has returned to find changes she doesn't understand, and because these changes are voiced by three of the people she loves most in the whole wide world, she doesn't know how to debate with them, doesn't know how to listen to their viewpoints — all she sees is that everything she has counted on, believed in, and thought she understood no longer holds true. We meet many of the characters introduced to us in Mockingbird. Aunt Alexandra still has the same class consciousness she had when Scout was nine, as well as the futile desire for her to become the embodiment of Southern womanhood. Atticus is still highly respected for his "integrity, humor, and patience . . . His private character was his public character". He is older and has arthritis but is coping. He believes in the law but also in States' rights. Her Uncle Jack still speaks to her in circles while trying to convey important social truths and to get her to carefully think through what she knows and how it all relates. We see in flashbacks to her childhood persona of Scout, her teen years with its times of sadness, times of naïveté that made her totally desperate, and times of creativity that became exactly the worst possible moment only to turn at the last minute into gales of laughter and relief. We see times of support and tenderness during which Calpurnia played a huge role. We learn that Jem "dropped dead in his tracks" in the town square one day and when Jean Louise is standing in the square, she shudders with the realization that she's standing in the very spot he died. We learn about the young man across the street, Hank Clinton, who was the same age as her brother Jem, his best friend, who spent his summers elsewhere but grew up to love her. He has become like a member of the family. Atticus has taken him under his wing from the time his mother died, and, in turn, Hank has become his legs and hands in the law firm and in his personal life. He also seems to have a clear handle on who Jean Louise is: "She was easy to look at and easy to be with most of the time, but she was in no sense of the word an easy person. . . She was a person who, when confronted with an easy way out, always took the hard way." But he just might not have a complete handle on who she is and what she wants. Some of the best writing in the novel is when Aunt Alex's coffee club ladies (Jean Louise calls them 'magpies') come over. Jean Louise is picking up snatches of various conversations from the two rows of women whom she divides in her mind into little groups: the Newlyweds, the Diaper set, the Light Brigade, and the three Perennial Hopefuls. The separate thoughts run together: "I never in all my life . . . saw that marvelous picture . . . with old Mr. Healy . . . lying on the mantelpiece in front of my eyes the whole time . . . is it? Just about eleven, I think . . . she'll wind up gettin' a divorce. After all, the way he . . . rubbed my back every hour the whole ninth month . . . would have killed you. If you could have seen him . . . piddling every five minutes during the night. I put a stop . . . to everybody in our class except that horrid girl from Old Sarum. She won't know the difference . . . between the lines, but you know exactly what he meant." Hilarious juxtaposition! And there's much more! Watchman may not be what you expected, it may leave you unsettled, you may find it offensive where the innocent eyes that related Mockingbird told a similar story of a different time tucked into family memories of a 9-year-old, but it is the perfect companion to Mockingbird, it is wonderful writing, it is well worth reading, and it is most definitely, Harper Lee.
Date published: 2015-08-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Should Have Stayed Lost I don't believe Harper Lee ever wanted to publish this amateurish piece of fiction. Nor do I believe it was ever lost. Her sister, Alice, who handled Harper's affairs, was, I believe, well aware of the manuscript and made sure it stayed filed away, never to see the light of day. The problem with reading it now is that we read it through glasses tinted by "To Kill A Mockingbird." Were one to begin reading this book with no knowledge of the Harper Lee Classic published later, chances are the book would be put aside and never finished. There are well written scenes that indicate the writer has potential, but not enough to merit its publication. The plot is vague, the characters lack depth and credibility and the flashbacks occur with little rhyme or reason. I'm sure that the book will be examined and debated ad naseum, but only because of its predecessor. Alice and Harper made one mistake - they should have destroyed the manuscript rather than filed it. But take heart you lovers of "To Kill A Mockingbird," this book will do nothing to tarnish the reputation of Lee's classic or that of the characters we have come to love and admire. I feel someone has taken advantage of a beloved senior citizen and that is most unfortunate. Robert Frost's first attempt at his classic poem "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening" has very little similarity to the final poem. What the comparison of the two does, however, is show the work that went into creating the final version and the artistry of Frost. I believe the same can be said for "Go Set A Watchman" were one to compare it to "To Kill A Mockingbird." You are looking at an early draft of a work that ended up having little similarity to the original. If you really love "To Kill A Mockingbird" then you should read Marla Mills book - "The Mockingbird Next Door." It sheds much light on this whole controversy of did she or did she not really want this early manuscript published? In conclusion, the discounted price "Watchman" was selling at from the very first day of its release should tell us something.
Date published: 2015-07-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I WILL be re-reading this! Before you read this, ask yourself why . For me, this is probably the most controversial book I have ever read because of the argument on whether or not Harper Lee is allowing this book to be published. The drama bothered me for some time and so to get my mind off that, and really assure I should be reading Go Set A Watchman, was to re-read To Kill A Mockingbird, which I read about 7 years ago in Gr.10 English. I believe it was the first adult novel I read and is certainly the first I re-read for my own leisure. Re-reading gave me the security to think ‘maybe I will read Go Set A Watchman’, only if Harper Lee herself is allowing the publication. Harper Lee then thankfully said she was “hurt" and “humiliated" on the debate of whether this should be published or not and was quite frankly upset this period caused controversy. Some may still argue that she is being taken advantage of, but I read this novel for a couple reasons: 1. She wrote this book first and wanted it published. The publishers declined and requested a younger Jean Louise. So she did and wrote Scout in Mockingbird. 2. The fact that this was the first submitted to her publisher makes me think she DID want this published. She would be over the moon. But having an unpublished manuscript rediscovered years later and then published may not be something respectful. I understand that since I can relate, having a similar piece of work I have done. I would hope that my manuscript(s) that are unpublished will remain that way and will make sure of that in writing. You don’t need to hear what I’ll say if I find out from above that it has surfaced around the world and what will happen to the person(s) that caused such an act. There are those who won’t read this because they are used to a younger Jean Louise, versus the older Scout in this book, and that is fine. I, however, enjoyed reading Jean Louise’s story just as much as I did with Atticus as Scout was a couple decade's younger. The actual story is about Jean Louise going back to her home in Maycomb, Alabama, as she’s been residing in New York for a few years. It is on this trip however that she experiences a change in herself, society, and the world around her. That includes her loved ones that I dare not name for fear of spoiling. The ending was quite dramatic as well but that all ties in as to how she’s dealing with all the changes. What I most appreciated of this novel was the flashbacks Jean Louise had; so there are Scout scenes that are post Mockingbird. Just to be also clear, Scout is not present in this novel. It’s Jean Louise. Scout was her childhood name, as Jean Louise likes to point out. I also believe that the publishers back then may have enjoyed seeing Scout in Watchman, and so requested Harper Lee writes that, and primarily also focused on Tom Robinson's case, also mentioned in this novel. I will re-read this book because I loved it before I surpassed the hundred-page mark. I read it because I don’t think Harper Lee would have appreciated this novel being left to rot as she intended for this to be read by the world. And the fact that she is still living today makes me surer of the fact that she would have wanted this to happen. Other books that were published posthumously, I dare not touch it for fear of the fact I will be deeply upsetting the author from above because sure enough, I expressed my view of that above. I may look into the fact that permission could have been granted but if not, I won't. I would recommend this to everyone, especially if they have read and admired To Kill A Mockingbird. I believe this is a historical event in literary fiction but will also always remain to be a controversial one at that. If someone is not comfortable because of the controversy during the publication process, they probably shouldn’t read it. If they don’t want to see Jean Louise and rather stick with Scout, then don’t pick it up. If it doesn’t bother them or they are more assured like myself, then by all means read it and be in awe of its genuine beauty, the same way I did.
Date published: 2015-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Lesson In Time This was a very rewarding read. I loved revisiting Scout, Jem and Dill, and "seeing" Jean Louise as an adult - in all her ferocity. It also taught a lesson for us about growing up and the danger of holding people too much in esteem - Atticus, of course. He had become God-like; now, he is human: "As she welcomed him silently to the human race, the stab of discovery made her tremble a little" (278). Jean Louise trembled. I cried. Bitter as it is, we can all learn from this. 150 years ago the slaves were freed; 50 - 60 years ago, we thought we had dispensed with racism because of the Civil Rights movement; however, we (the Baby Boomers at the very least) have been startled by recent events to realize that the fight is not over. Self righteousness and self-congratulations are not in order. There is still much to do. Thank you Jean Louise. And thank you Harper Lee for reminding us of this. The wait was (however accidental) well timed. I see the world in a new light.
Date published: 2015-07-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from That is how much people expected It said there are seven heavens. If this is true, I want go to the one where Harper Lee goes.
Date published: 2015-03-20

Editorial Reviews

“[Go Set a Watchman is] filled with the evocative language, realistic dialogue and sense of place that partially explains what made Mockingbird so beloved.”