The book world is currently abuzz with this and quite rightly so. There’s been some dark mutterings about just exactly how much Harper Lee was involved in the publishing negotiations, reporting of her being in a vulnerable state and too trusting. I swore down that I wouldn’t read this book but yesterday morning when I was in the supermarket doing the weekly food shop there it was staring at me. I was torn between my resolve not to read it and my desire to and I sadly admit that I succumbed. I didn’t realise just how lucky I was in getting it when I did. I was unaware of the world embargo on it and the fact that it was going on sale at midnight!
As you will be aware by now, Go Set A Watchman is Harper Lee’s original manuscript that was reworked according to a suggestion by a publisher – the end result being To Kill a Mockingbird. You will also be aware of a certain detail that was widely leaked regarding Atticus Finch being a racist. For that very reason I was reluctant to read it. I had read Mockingbird when I saw a young teenager and had fallen in love with it. Finch being a cherished, sainted, much adored literary character around the world.
I finished this book in the early hours of this morning. It’s now 2.25 am and I’m writing this in bed, still buzzing and processing what I’ve just read.
It’s hard not to give away too much of the story without lessening it’s impact. I don’t want to rob anyone of the experience I’ve just had. One thing I will say is this. After reading in the mainstream media, I feel compelled to say that Atticus’ racism isn’t quite what it is being made out to be (if my conclusions are correct). Secondly, try not to think of this as a sequel. Throughout reading it, I never once had that thought, even though Scout is a 26 year old woman. You can’t separate it entirely, but think of it more as a companion piece to Mockingbird.
I’ve been dreading reading this book, but I’m so relieved I did. I feel nauseous at the thought of it not being in my life. It doesn’t quite follow the events that happened in Mockingbird, but it’s every bit as emotional. At “that moment”, it hits you like a punch to the stomach and then makes your brain work overtime (I had to reread the last few chapters to clarify the conclusion I had arrived at). It made me cry, gasp out loud and laugh with fondness at revisiting old friends. It’s every bit as captivating as Mockingbird is. It’s a stunning piece of literature that grabs you by the brains as well as the heart.
To anyone who (like me) was determined not to read it, dismayed at the thought of Atticus Finch being a racist – I urge you to swallow any reservations you may have had, give this a go and try not to let your love of To Kill a Mockingbird cloud your reading of Go Set A Watchman. You may seriously regret not reading this.
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