Jean Louise Finch is going home from New York to Maycomb,
Alabama for her yearly visit to her father. Atticus still
practices law, but at 72, he is crippled with arthritis.
Jean Louise expected him to meet her at the train
station, instead it's her lifelong friend Henry Clinton
who meets her. Henry wants to marry her, but Jean Louise
is reticent, even though she loves him. She finds things
have changed a lot, or have they?
Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD has remained
on my list of all-time favourite books, I have read it
several times, however I refrained from doing so prior to
reviewing GO SET A WATCHMAN, as I wanted to keep an open
From the onset, GO SET A WATCHMAN sent me back in time
thanks to Ms. Lee's eloquent descriptions of the scenery,
the people, the atmosphere of a small Southern town in
the middle of the 20th century. Jean Louise is still a
tomboy, she's very independent, cocky, and sarcastic. She
has forever put her laconic father Atticus on a pedestal,
however an accidental discovery puts everything Jean
Louise took for granted in jeopardy, and what seemed a
banal visit home turns out to be a life-changing one.
Harper Lee's writing is articulate, mesmerising, flowing
and elegant, and you cannot help but be swept in the
narrative. I'm happy to say that no revisionism has
touched GO SET A WATCHMAN; offensive racist words and
thinking have not been expunged, thus making some
passages very difficult to digest, but they are crucial
to convey the profound message of the story. As Jean
Louise's reminisces about her mostly happy, blissful and
carefree childhood, we are treated to some charming, and
very funny anecdotes, all the while the author is setting
the scene for the earth-shattering discovery that is
about to rock the very foundation of Jean Louise's world,
and the reader experiences the confusion, the
disorientation, the paradoxes almost as frighteningly as
Jean Louise does.
It is not necessary to have read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD to
SET A WATCHMAN, as the
latter stands perfectly on its own. I am truly astounded
that we had to wait so long for a second book from Harper
Lee, even more so that an author has penned two books,
both of them masterpieces. As with TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD,
GO SET A
WATCHMAN will be re-read over
and over and cherished forever. I presume it would be
folly to dare hope for more from the extraordinary Harper
Lee. Thank you Ms. Lee for granting us the privilege of a
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.