Go Set a Watchman
Harper Lee

From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—”Scout”—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can be guided only by one’s conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context and new meaning to an American classic.

Go Set a Watchman book cover

I, like many thousands of my contemporaries, spent a few months in that tired old town called Maycomb before sitting GCSEs. I think initially we were as much intrigued by the dialect and entertainments of the characters as the plot, but I certainly grew to enjoy the work. I only read it myself once thereafter, on an ice-cold evening between colleges, which must’ve been a few years out of secondary school.

I’d heard about Watchman in the media of course, and it’s odd, because I wasn’t compelled to pick it up. At least, I didn’t think I was. And yet this morning, I was between books. Then, with only four minutes before I signed off work, I decided what the hell? And transferred it with all due haste to my ereader before leaving. I read the first chapter on the way home, completed my evening activities and put my daughter to bed, and finished it in the bath with a drink.

I found it a rather poignant experience. My own memories of reading Mockingbird are full of classroom experiences, old friends and teachers, a life I seem to have left behind. I think the fourth section was my favourite, Scout’s huge, all-encompassing feelings of injustice and hurt and hate and loss are powerful. But the whole work holds the same message, tone, and compelling voice of Mockingbird; indeed I came away feeling I’d seen another facet to the prism of life. Watchman is another coming of age story, isn’t it? I can’t say Mockingbird felt in any way childish, but this certainly hit home in a different way to me now. It’s perhaps not as immediately endearing, certainly not as easy to get into, but I think anyone who read Mockingbird will want to read this, just to know a little of the lives we’ve seen before.

Published by Sean Randall

I am an avid reader, technologist and disability advocate living in the middle of England with my wife, daughter and pets.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *