If you haven’t read Harper Lee’s first novel, ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, then I’m not sure this book will fully work for you. I believe it relies on the reader’s previous knowledge of the main character’s relationship with her father & the events surrounding them in Lee’s first novel. To this end it doesn’t seem to be sufficiently referred to in ‘Go Set A Watchman’, to enable the reader to understand Jean Louise’s reaction to the social situation at hand.
If you’ve read ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ however, ‘Go Set A Watchman’ is a must-read. It won’t be to the same standards though I’m afraid, it reads like a first draft which no one proofread before publication; but Jean Louise Finch, or Scout if you’d prefer, is brought to adulthood with a heavy, emotionally-laden clang, which answers every book worm’s ‘what-happened-next’ wonderings.
Lee includes a lot of detail in her novel & to me some of it is definitely extraneous & alien. Because of this I found it difficult to focus & be unirritated by it, & it consequently took me time to find my feet.
Eventually, however, i realised a lot of the other detail sets the stage for the later drama; for instance I think perhaps the detail of Jean Louise’s journey home allows the novel to take its time with this endeavour, which in turn highlights the distance it takes to get from her new life to her home, both geographically & metaphorically. & also, without giving too much away, your slow realisation of what’s changed & what hasn’t whilst she’s been away, mirrors Jean Louise’s own realisation.
I did not forsee all the events that unfolded in Harper Lee’s long-awaited sequel (twice I was in tears), nor could I have predicted it’s outcome, & you may call me naive but what a wonderful & surprising ending it was.
Harper Lee’s tender & careful depiction of a young woman shaking off her childhood disillusions, emotionally encourages the reader to consider doing the same thing – to cliché-ing-ly leave the past in the past. Despite this book’s downfalls, it does follow on from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ & it entertains us with a thought-provoking & surprising new chapter of her life.
Calpurnia – “You’ve been totin’ all this around with you all this time? Why didn’t you say something about it?”
Jean Louise – “Why didn’t I know all this before?”
Specific copy info: Publisher: Random House Isbn: 978-1785150289