February 16

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

If you have been wanting to read Go Set a Watchman but have hesitated because you have not read To Kill A Mockingbird, please don’t panic.  It doesn’t matter.

I confess to being one of a handful of people on the planet who hasn’t read To Kill a Mockingbird (I’m a fool I know and not worth my book reviewer’s salt) but I’m about to remedy that quick smart because Harper Lee’s writing is exactly what everyone says it is. Superb.

First up, while some of the characters are the same as To Kill A Mockingbird, this tale stands firmly on it’s own merit.  It’s a sequel of sorts.  Set in Maycomb Alabama the story revolves around Jean Louise (Scout) Finch’s return from New York City to visit her elderly father Atticus. It is the 1950’s and life in the deep South is  taut with civil rights turmoil and political unrest and Scout is flung into a sudden and devastating realisation that life is not as she remembers.  Everything and everyone she held dear seems to dissolve and so, she does what most of us would.

Revolt.

Loudly.

It’s conclusion is powerful and I have actually pondered the message of it for many an hour and have tried to take on a few lessons offered in it.   I think I too can be a little ‘Scout-esque’ so learning a lesson on self-righteousness won’t go astray.  No more clues though, just read it please.

Harper Lee’s writing is so beautiful.  Her characters are rich and vivid – their world is so real you can almost touch it.  Certainly I felt like I was there with Scout and Atticus – it’s less a novel and more a teleporter of sorts in my opinion.  You are there. With them.  Or at least I was…..and I loved it because these Southern folk are really good company.

Apparently this book was the first one Lee ever wrote and it was submitted to a publisher in 1957.  The book wasn’t accepted however the editor asked her to revise the story and make the main character Scout a child. She did and How To Kill A Mockingbird was finished two years later.  The rest is history regarding that title.

Go Set A Watchman was actually thought to be lost until Lee’s lawyer found it in a safe deposit box just a few years ago and questions remain whether Lee actually wanted this book published.  We may never truly know the answer but I am now definitely with the gazillion people who celebrated and whooped out loud when this treasure was unburied and shared with the world.

But that is just my two cents worth.