Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee

I read To Kill a Mocking Bird a couple of weeks ago and loved it, so decided, as there’s a sequel, why the hell not go and read it straight away? I’ll also admit to being a bit curious as to why there was such strong opinion about this book and I’m pleased to say that now I know why that is.


Like its predecessor, the book is set in Maycomb, Alabama. The main difference is that instead of being a little girl, Jean-Louise (a.k.a Scout) is twenty-six years old and returning to her home town to visit her aging father, Atticus, who is now 72.


The power of the first book was that it balanced weighty topics with a child-like innocence and in that way gave the reader a reprieve from becoming overwhelmed. The main thing here is not to compare it with its predecessor, otherwise you’ll be hard pressed to find any enjoyment. Until I stopped comparing it, I found it increasingly hard to appreciate, even on a basic level.


The story doesn’t start particularly well and sufferers from inadequate pacing. Nothing of any noteworthy significance happened until around the 40% mark. I did consider putting this down a few times, but my curiosity got the better of me and I’m glad that I continued because it did improve.


Even when it did get better, it was still bogged down by detail that at times felt like too much and wasn’t interwoven with enough drama to keep my attention. Much of what happened took the form of embittered diatribe which wasn’t satisfactory.


The focal point of the story was explained significantly close to the end, which I don’t think worked because it left too much time for the reader to ruminate on the issue. As this issue also concerned a beloved character, it really needed to be resolved earlier.


I can fully appreciate now why people are having such a hard time with this book, but really I think this is their inability to accept change. Or maybe it would be more accurate to say embrace it. Either way, this was a book that very much reflected reality and our perceptions of people and how those perceptions can and should change. I think that if these issues had been handled in a gentler way, people would have more readily accepted them. As it was though, it failed to have the desired effect, even though the intention was there