Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
It’s pretty bloody crazy that Harper Lee has another (only her second!) novel released and going back to Maycomb would OF COURSE£ be a dream. But having read reviews and articles, I’m scared that by reading it, I could change forever the way I see an iconic book – and an iconic character.
Go Set a Watchman features pretty much the same characters and intrinsic plot as To Kill a Mockingbird. The difference is, in this book Scout is twenty-six years old and referred to as Jean Louise. Er what, Jean Louise?!
Things just get crazier as we also find out it was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird. Apparently Lee took it to her editor and was persuaded to do another draft that featured Scout as a child, with the story told through her eyes and more emphasis put on the relationship with her father Atticus. Sound familiar? Obviously this was to be To Kill a Mockingbird. And everyone loved it.
Of course anticipation for Go Set a Watchman was huge. Amazon recorded it as their second most pre-ordered book of all time – beaten only by Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows (absolutely justified). Buuuuuut I’m just not sure.
I’m mainly nervous because I’ve read that one of the finest literary creations of all time (if not THE finest) Atticus Finch, is not as… well not as kind and lovely as he was in To Kill a Mockingbird.
I get very attached to characters anyway and Atticus is such a perfect, brilliant creation. His kindness more than anything but also his intelligence, integrity and rational thinking. It helps that he was portrayed so fantastically by Gregory Peck in the 1962 adaptation but even without this movie, I’d still love Atticus. It’s hard to believe he’s not a real person.
I’ve read reviews of Go Set a Watchman that hint Atticus could be more of a bigoted character. I’ve read reviews saying things such as “everything we thought we knew about Mockingbird is up in the air” or “those who have read To Kill a Mockingbird will be shocked and even horrified by some of this book”.
Horrified?!!! I’m not sure I like the sounds of this.
I know without reading the book it’s hard to pass judgement but was any of this really necessary? One thing I suppose I would like to know, set all that time in the future – is if Dill is in it as an adult. Dill was the kid in To Kill a Mockingbird who stayed with his aunt and hung out with Jem and Scout. He told some sensational stories, just like the person he was based on – author Truman Capote! He and Harper Lee were great friends ‘back in the day’.
“Mr and Mrs Lee, Harper Lee’s mother and father, lived very near. Harper Lee was my best friend. Did you ever read her book, To Kill a Mockingbird? I’m a character in that book, which takes place in the same small town in Alabama where we lived. Her father was a lawyer and she and I used to go to trials all the time as children. We went to the trials instead of going to the movies.”