Review: Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having never read ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, I decided, upon the release of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ to read both books this year.

Watchman was the first book written by Lee, it was deemed unsuitable for publication, but certain flashback scenes appealed to Lee’s editor and were expanded and re-written to become the much loved book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.

I thought it might be interesting to read the novels in the order that they were written, rather than publication order, so began with Watchman. Watchman has not been changed or edited since Lee first wrote it and so provides an interesting insight into Lee’s original thoughts and plans for her novel.

I have to say that I enjoyed it. Taken at face value, it’s a book about social change and the toppling of idols, seen through the thoughts and emotions of a young woman.

Many people say that not a lot happens in this book and that’s true. But I found it to be an interesting vessel for some of Lee’s character pieces.
On the novel’s nasty side…where the flaws of every character are laid bare, we see the holding of, and effects of individual and group prejudices and the negative impact they have on a community, a country and the people that live within it. On the brighter side we see a vignette of a specific time and place, the affection of family and childhood memories.

I think I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time and I’m looking forward to reading Mockingbird and seeing how Lee’s ideas improved and matured in her greater work.

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