Read by Janelle: September 2015 – Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set A Watchman

by Harper Lee

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Published 2015

Genres: Fiction / Literary

“He began dating her on her annual two-week visits home, and although she still moved like a thirteen-year-old boy and abjured most feminine adornment, he found something so intensely feminine about her that he fell in love. She was easy to look at and easy to be with most of the time, but she was in no sense of the word an easy person. She was afflicted with a restlessness of spirit he could not guess at, but he knew she was the one for him.”

Janelle says…

So, I have read it. Well actually, that’s not entirely true.

I couldn’t ignore the hype, the controversy, or the significance of this book. The story of its discovery through to its publishing, with all the conjecture and divided opinion in between, was completely fascinating. Personally, I don’t believe this manuscript was published with the blessing of Harper Lee. If she was in fact of sound enough mind to consent to its publishing, and the words that announced the publishing did in fact come from her own hand, then why would she sit idly by while the motives of her spokesperson and friend, Tonja Carter, were repeatedly questioned by readers and the media? Wouldn’t she have spoken out to defend her? And why would she have waited so long to publish it? I can’t believe she merely “forgot it existed” once To Kill A Mockingbird once released.

Then again, who am I to comment on how Harper Lee’s mind works?

You might have heard that in Watchman, we learn that Atticus Finch has become somewhat racist, whereas in Mockingbird he was an advocate for racial equality. And there was a definite turning point in this book where that change of heart became apparent, but in my opinion, the discovery of it wasn’t quite shocking or raw enough to warrant the chapters and chapters of Jean Louise’s (Scout’s) grief and outrage that followed. I was expecting something else I guess, maybe some kind of explosive verbal diarrhoea on his part and then gasps and tears all around…….and it was mellow compared to that expectation. I felt like yelling at Jean Louise to just confront him about it already so we could all move on!

There also seemed to be a lot of nothing much happening. I found that I was sitting down to read, and after about a page or so, I would turn to my phone or the TV instead – I was looking for something to distract me from the boredom of continuing to read.

Considering this book was published in the form of the unedited manuscript that was found, I was surprised at how few errors it contained. There were definitely a few, but I was expecting more. However, it was clear to me that a number of areas would ideally have been cut back, had they been edited.

While I was reading, I kept asking myself whether it should be a prerequisite to read Mockingbird before reading Watchman. I think the answer is yes, because if you read Watchman first without any context as to the time or the place or the people or the cultural and social agenda at the heart of the story, you would probably dump this book by page 50. If you’ve read Mockingbird already, there’s a chance you might just finish Watchman. As it turns out, I didn’t finish it. I gave it a good 190 pages before I bailed. I’m not usually a book-quitter, and I really did want to see this one through. But in the end, my interest just couldn’t be revived, and I couldn’t be bothered sticking with it for the remaining 90 pages.

I would absolutely recommend that you Kill A Mockingbird, but I wouldn’t endorse Setting A Watchman.

Rating:

Did not like it  –  It was ok  –  Liked it  –  Really liked it  –  It was amazing

DNF (Did Not Finish)

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