A Father's Law

Go Set a Watchman

by Harper Lee

Overview: An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, bestselling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.

Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her. Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee’s enduring classic. Moving, funny and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.

Ann Ferber (07/19/15): What a wise woman Ms. Lee is to wait over half a century before publishing the original manuscript she wrote in the 1950s. It takes place when Jean Louise (Scout) Finch, now a 26 yr old struggling writer/artist returns to her hometown, Maycomb, Alabama, after living in New York City for five years. Granted with all the editorial and publishing help Ms Lee received in 1960, To Kill A Mockingbird was the right book to bring forth at that time. And it was very successful; won all kinds of awards. America needed idealistic, moral visions, in the person of Atticus Finch, to proceed with the hard work and resistance overcoming, leading to the civil rights achievements of the 60s.

Today it would be a disservice to hold on to that view of Atticus. Post-racial America has not arrived, but it is about to be born, if the trend toward truth telling continues. No one says it's an easy matter. Ms Lee demonstrates just how difficult it is to face the fact that your youthful beliefs and expectations can be shattered in a day or two, and your identity must repair itself. This is painful, folks.

And for this reason, I have no idea just what the acceptance of Watchman will be. So far, mixed. Yes, it is not as charming and innocent and gothic as Mockingbird. But as far as relevancy is concerned, this book speaks to right now! Harper Lee, you go girl!
Rating: *****

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