Go Set a Watchman: A Novel
by Harper Lee
A Guest Review by Douglas Green
Have just finished Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. For the first 3/4 of this book, I found myself fully in agreement with those folks at Businessweek with their article on it. This was actually written 3 years before Mockingbird, though never published. Harper then set Mockingbird 20 years earlier with the same cast of characters, and told that tale through the eyes of a 14-year-old girl. What she wrote is a timeless classic, well deserving of the Pulitzer and any other award they can find to honor it with. The problem comes, in that in the last two parts of this book, Harper Lee writes some of the most compelling, vivid, attention riveting piece of prose I’ve had the privileged to read. For me, it rivals some of the best passages of Tolkien, Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea, or the best writings of Maugham.
The book DESERVED to be published, and in no way detracts from Mockingbird. This book too, can stand on its own, though it can never be the equal of 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 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 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.
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (July 14, 2015)
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
About the Author
Nelle Harper Lee is known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, her only major work. In 1999, it was voted “Best Novel of the Century” in a poll by Library Journal. Ms. Lee was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contribution to literature in 2007. Her father was a lawyer who served in the Alabama state legislature from 1926 to 1938. As a child, Lee was a tomboy and enjoyed the friendship of her schoolmate, Truman Capote. After completing To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee accompanied Capote to Holcomb, Kansas, to assist him in researching his bestselling book, In Cold Blood. Since publication of To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee has granted very few requests for interviews or public appearances. Her second novel, Go Set a Watchman, is scheduled to be released in July, 2015.