What do I think about ‘Go Set A Watchman.’


So, having read through Go Set A Watchman, I was interested to see what other people thought of the book that Tay Hohoff and Harper Lee worked on to create the iconic classic To Kill A Mockingbird. 

I bring up google and have a good look at the reviews. It’s then when I find the overwhelming majority of reviewers have a lot of bad things to say, one article in the Telegraph even questions how much Harper Lee actually wrote when it came to writing To Kill A Mockingbird. In fact, one review on Amazon by a disgruntled reader even went as far as to call it a ‘book for failed or stuck writers.’ The way it was phrased made it seem degrading both to writers trying to make their way in the world but to also those who read the book and enjoyed it. However, there may be a bit of truth to this.

Go Set A Watchman, shows how a writer, Harper Lee, can change a first draft into something enduring and unforgettable like To Kill A Mockingbird. And to any writer out there it must be comforting to know that a piece such as this can be transformed into a piece of literature of that caliber.

To me, Go Set A Watchman is worth the read as both a canonical and metamorphic novel. It all depends on how you want to read. If you want to read this as a continuation of To Kill A Mockingbird, that is entirely up to you. As a standalone book, it has merits. But to anyone expecting a highly polished novel similar to Harper Lee’s first novel, you are likely to be disappointed. It is true that Go Set A Watchman lacks the polish you’d expect in a novel, especially one that has been knocking around since 1957. I feel that this is where most of the bad reviews are coming from, from people expecting more from the format.

There is the case of Atticus as well (Spoiler Alert.) Atticus has espoused racist views that have had people up in arms, especially after everyone has this picture of Atticus as the gold standard of American heroism. If you read this as a standalone piece, then that shouldn’t matter, however if you wish to read this in canon remember, people change! In the twenty years between the two books settings Atticus has become embittered, he suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and leads a generally miserable life, even if he doesn’t show it. Over time people adopt new ideas and I don’t find it too far from reality for a person to undergo a radical change in personality.

I found Go Set A Watchman an intriguing read. As long as you go into reading the book with an open mind I don’t see any reason why you can’t enjoy it for what it is.

7 thoughts on “What do I think about ‘Go Set A Watchman.’

  1. Merryn

    Interesting review. I had no idea that there was a sequel! To Kill A Mockingbird was one of my favourites at highschool, because it moved me and it taught me. Mum studied the same book in senior highschool as well, so I figured it was somewhat a classic! I am intrigued now and I am keen to read Go Set A Watchman, so that I can see the differences between the two novels and learn more about Atticus.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really interesting and balanced review. I liked the way you put it in this line: “To me, Go Set A Watchman is worth the read as both a canonical and metamorphic novel.” Good descriptions! I think it’s also interesting to think of Atticus’ change the other way round – from bigot in Watchman to decent and not so-bigoted character in Mockingbird. Would love to know if Atticus actually changed in Harper Lee’s mind, or remained essentially the same person but with his racist views hidden from the readers in Mockingbird.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for the kind words. It is definitely worth some reflection on Atticus as a character. Tempted to send her an email and ask her that question. But then again it’s also fun to come up with your own conclusions.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Streed's Reads

    I appreciated your balanced approach to it. I never understood the hype over this piece; but, perhaps its because I primarily read non-fiction works with tie-ins to other parts of the world. Racisms and abuse exist everywhere, unfortunately…but the context under which I read about said issues is quite different. Like you, I sometimes read what other reviewers have to say about a book and take their evaluations under consideration…though I have found that many tend to be unnecessarily brutal and faio to offer constructive criticism to aid the author and/or publisher in future works. I like that you shared how your opinion varied from the negative reviews. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think think the hype was mainly generated because To Kill a Mockingbird sold over 30 million copies. And, despite being nearly 56 years old, retains a huge reader base.

      I really appreciate your kind comments, it means a lot to me. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

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