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Ellinor's Litventures

This blog is about my literary adventures in different genres. I like variety in my reading and will read books from most genres but particulary book with some literary merit.


Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee

I can understand why lots of readers will give this book a negative rating: Atticus Finch, this beloved character from To Kill a Mockingbird now suddenly doesn't look so bright anymore. He turns out to be a racist who also attended meetings of the Ku-Klux-Klan. This revelation will clearly be a shock to many. But when you come to think of it and also when you read his explanation he gives to the shocked Scout (now always referred to as Jean Louise) you can understand it. When he defended the black boy in To Kill a Mockingbird he did this because the boy clearly was innocent. When it comes to his world - the Old South - however, he sees it threatened by the Negroes' fight for more rights.
For me the American South has always been a strange place and also kind of a mystery. The deep religiousness feels very weird to me. I also don't understand how 150 years after the Civil War and 50 years after the Civil Rights Movement there can still be such deep conflicts between black and white people. This book tries to give an insight into this society: At some places it succeeds pretty well, other places (e.g. Calpurnia's behaviour towards Jean Louise) still remain blurred.
The book is a quick and easy read - most of the time. It is told in the third-person from Jean Louise's point of view. Sometimes when her thoughts are described this is done by a first-person narrator. This often comes out of the blue and completely doesn't fit in with the rest of the text.
Despite the serious topics this book also has many funny scenes. My favourite is the one quite at the beginning when the children react the revival.
All in all the writing seems very modern, often not at all like something written in the 1950s. This of course leads me to the entire topic of the publication of this book. It's sometimes hard to believe that Harper Lee really wrote it herself. There will surely be experts comparing her two novels and analysing the similarities in style etc. What I'm sure of however, is that Harper Lee still didn't want this book to be published and was tricked into this by her lawyer (Harper Lee is deaf and half-blind after a stroke). Her sister died a short time ago and couldn't take care of her sisters interests anymore. So now was the perfect timing to publish this novel - who knows what a last will might reveal.
Go Set a Watchman shouldn't be read without having read To Kill a Mockingbird first. To many things from the first book are revealed and you often wouldn't understand what is going on in the second book without having read the first one.
As I said in the beginning, it is not a bad book but it also isn't a book you definitely have to read. I can understand positive and negative opinions of it and also people who are content with just having read To Kill a Mockingbird.