As promised, today I am sharing with you my review of Harper Lee’s novel Go set a watchman.
This novel is set around 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird but was written prior to the modern classic that we have come to know and love. The publication of this novel sparked a lot of controversy, which I have addressed in one of my very first posts.
At the time of the story, Scout is 26 and lives in New York. She decides to come back to Maycomb to visit Atticus, who is now 72 and suffering from the issues that come with age. In the midst of the civil rights movement, Scout finds her town and the people she valued most changed in ways that she would have never imagined. These realisations force her to revalue her life and the ideas and ideals it was built on.
What I did not like
Let’s start with the negative first. I found that the novel was really slow to start. The twist (which to be honest, I was already aware of) comes almost halfway through the 280 pages. There is a lot of exposition, which is a good way to see what happened to the characters in the last 20 years but it sometimes felt a bit like a TV “previously on”.
Scout was a bit of a handful, as to be expected, but I did struggle with her reactions at times. I guess I expected that, as an adult, she would have managed to gain control over her impetuousness but now that I think about it, I’m not sure I would have liked her to. Never mind then.
What I did like
Harper Lee’s writing in this novel is of great quality. Although I struggled at times with understanding the various references (nothing that my friend Google couldn’t solve), I found that the sentences were beautifully crafted and I have quite a few quotes to add to my collection.
I really enjoyed Uncle Jack’s character. I found he brought a perfect balance of wisdom and quirkiness.
I found it interesting that in this book, we see the issue of racism and segregation through the eyes of Scout as an adult, whether in To Kill a Mockingbird, it was through the eyes of Scout in the midst of her childhood.
Finally, I loved the last 50 pages or so of the novel, when Scout has long conversations with both her uncle and her father. The dialogue was perfectly crafted, being both realistic and poetic. Although the novel’s conclusion didn’t answer all of the questions I had, it did give a great representation of what it means to have your convictions put into question.
To conclude, although this novel did disappoint in terms of plot, the quality of the writing and the overall message did not fall short of what I anticipated. I do love To Kill a Mockingbird but I don’t think it’s completely fair to compare the two novels, seeing that they were published at radically different times. I’m really glad this novel was published because it definitely adds to Lee’s other novel.
My rating: 3.5 stars