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Go Set a Watchman (2015)

by Harper Lee

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: To Kill a Mockingbird (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
7,830410909 (3.34)3 / 293
"Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch -- "Scout"--Returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past -- a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision -- a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic." -- Book jacket.… (more)
  1. 132
    To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (JuliaMaria, KayCliff)
    JuliaMaria: Harper Lee hat nur zwei Bücher veröffentlicht. Das zweite - "Gehe hin, stelle einen Wächter" - erst mit 90 Jahren - auch wenn es schon früher geschrieben wurde. Es war die literarische Sensation des Jahres 2015.
    KayCliff: Go Set a Watchman is the sequel to To Kill a Mocking Bird
  2. 30
    Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (amanda4242)
  3. 52
    The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (Cecrow)
    Cecrow: Another story of the south by an author with similar background.
  4. 20
    The Optimist's Daughter by Eudora Welty (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Moving and bittersweet, these Southern Gothic novels portray women pushed to their emotional limits as they return home and re-establish old relationships. Both are literary and character-driven, with a thoughtful style that also references mid-twentieth-century events and attitudes.… (more)
  5. 10
    The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau (vwinsloe)
    vwinsloe: Southern values shortly before the civil rights era
  6. 10
    Tongues of flame by Mary Ward Brown (andrewcorser)
    andrewcorser: Further insight into the Southern States
  7. 10
    Four Spirits by Sena Jeter Naslund (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: Although Go Set a Watchman takes a more humorous approach than Four Spirits, both novels, set in the mid-twentieth-century South, spotlight the effects of the Civil Rights Movement on individuals. They are captivating, character-driven cameos representing society as a whole.… (more)
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» See also 293 mentions

English (400)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  Norwegian (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (409)
Showing 1-5 of 400 (next | show all)
There's so much to say about Watchman that I'm not even going to try. Plenty of critics are issuing opinions, and I don't have any insights above or beyond what people who do this for a living are going to say. I'll simply say that I approached Watchman as a draft novel and as a reader who has no particular emotional attachment to Mockingbird, and seeing it through that lens, I loved it. Harper Lee is (was?) a great writer, and her refusal to publish more is a huge loss. If there's a third book, as recent rumors claim, I'll read that one too. What I really want, though, is a detailed explanation for how Go Set a Watchman evolved into To Kill a Mockingbird --I mean the nuts and bolts of Lee's thought process as she revised and rewrote her manuscript. But I doubt a woman who refuses to speak to the press will be publishing her journals anytime soon (assuming she even kept journals of that process), so I will learn to live with the want.

( )
  IVLeafClover | Jun 21, 2022 |
Didn't want to do 3, just to say 3.5 stars, so gave it a 4 star rating. Could definitely hear Harper's voice and was reminiscent of To Kill a Mockingbird, which was vry enjoyable. I think however, that the editor either the first time the manuscript came across his desk or when it was found again, could have done a better job to tighten it up. It felt like it didn't really get into the gist of this story until about 1/2 way through. I wish there was a third book and explore how things got worse and how a gentlemen such as Atticus might have changed his mind. ( )
  BarbF410 | May 22, 2022 |
This left me confused and disappointed. I loved "To kill a mockingbird". But, Go set a Watchman is so oddly different, it doesn't even feel like the same author.

***There will be some spoilers here***

This focuses solely on Jean Louise, she no longer goes by Scout. Her brother Jem has died 2 yrs prior to this book, the first of many confusing decisions Harper Lee made with this one.

Jean Louise returns to Maycomb, from New York, where she lives now, to find things have changed. Apparently Atticus, her father, is a racists now...yes, the same man that raised her to be kind and believe in equal rights for all. The same man that defended a black man named Tom Robinson against rape charges in TKAMB(To kill a mockingbird), the main plot and storyline of that book. Oh, and surprise!...Tom Robinson was acquitted in this book, although he was convicted and later shot to death while trying to escape in TKAMB. This bit of plot swap baffled me to the point that I actually went back to the TKAMB to make sure I hadn't missed something, had memory lapse, or lost my mind.

Atticus, his beliefs, how he raises his children, the trials and tribulations that the family endures to support their views, the wonderful man and father he is....these things are so integral to the story told in TKAMB, it feels like such an injustice, a disservice to his character to completely change him.

Not only is Atticus a racists, but apparently Henry is too. Henry? Who's Henry?? This is supposedly her brother's best childhood friend, whom they spent their entire childhood doing everything with, but wasn't even a character in TKAMB. Dill, who actually filled this role in the TKAMB, is entirely absent here and only briefly mentioned. Henry wants to marry Jean Louise, always has and has apparently proposed multiple times, another role Dill filled in TKAMB. Dill and Scouts relationship and Dills childhood proposal was one of the sweetest and cutest parts of the book and I was looking forward to seeing the dynamics of their relationship as adults. Why??!! Why create an entirely new character?? Henry serves no purpose and does nothing as a supporting character that Dill could not have done.

These aren't the only changes....Uncle Jack, a physician, made appearances in TKAMB, but lived in Mobile. Here, he lives in Maycomb and has played much larger role in Scout and Jems childhood. He also has a completely different persona and is supposedly a somewhat looney eccentric. Aunt Alexandra's storyline has changed as well, and she has always lived in Maycomb, as to where in TKAMB she moved in to help raise Scout with a woman's influence, but had a home in Finches landing, their families longtime homestead. The family no longer even owns the homestead in this book.

Calpernia......Cal was one of my favorites in TKAMB. She raised Jem and Scout and had a very close relationship with both children and Atticus. Cal was from Finches landing, where she and her family had always been in service for and a part of the Finch family. She moved to Maycomb with Atticus and his wife when they married and purchased a home there. She started as a nanny and ended up a Mother to the kids after their Mother died when Scout was 2. Cal, in this book, is not only no longer with the family, but apparently always harbored animosity and hatred towards them.

This book has an entirely different feel, an almost entirely different storyline, but still manages to mimic TKAMB in entire paragraphs that feel like page fillers. I found several of these, especially when describing Maycomb or giving family history, essentially copied and pasted directly from TKAMB.

A total disappointment. Supposedly, Harper Lee has said this was her original idea for TKAMB, but had changed it to appease her publisher or someone .... IMO she should have stuck with their ideas and left it at that. ( )
  Jfranklin592262 | May 21, 2022 |
I definitely liked some parts of the book, but I don’t know how I feel about it. I liked revisiting familiar characters and I liked the flashbacks and her relationship with Hank. But that’s about all. Atticus’s new attitude was jarring and felt, at least at first, like a complete betrayal. I suppose that was the only way for Lee to invoke Scout’s own feelings of confusion and betrayal, but it felt a little forced. It makes me want to reread Mockingbird to see if Atticus’s apparent love of justice, not equality, can be seen in hindsight.

What first made hesitant was Lee’s usage of the belief in states’ rights as the common ground. Southern memory of the Civil War tends to replace slavery with states’ rights in order to avoid answering the question of who was right and who was wrong. It’s a false sense of just cause. No one spoke of states’ rights until the war was over - Apostles of Disunion discusses this in detail.

From there, we careen wildly. The climax is never resolved in any fulfilling way. Scout is told she is a bigot for not listening to the actual bigots. In fact, the ultimate message seems to be “blacks and whites are just different.”

The focus of the book is a white woman’s struggle to form her own individual conscience. It is not a discussion of segregation- we never even find out what happens to Zeebo!

I am very disappointed that claims to be a sequel seems to have moved decades backwards in American racial thinking.
( )
  Sennie_V | Mar 22, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 400 (next | show all)
And so beneath Atticus’s style of enlightenment is a kind of bigotry that could not recognize itself as such at the time. The historical and human fallacies of the Agrarian ideology hardly need to be rehearsed now, but it should be said that these views were not regarded as ridiculous by intellectuals at the time. Indeed, Jean Louise/Lee herself, though passionately opposed to what her uncle and her father are saying, nevertheless accepts the general terms of the debate as the right ones.
added by danielx | editNew Yorker, Adam Gopnik (Jul 27, 2015)
 
Go Set a Watchman is a troubling confusion of a novel, politically and artistically, beginning with its fishy origin story. .. I ached for this adult Scout: The civil rights movement may be gathering force, but the second women's movement hasn't happened yet. I wanted to transport Scout to our own time — take her to a performance of Fun Home on Broadway — to know that, if she could only hang on, the possibilities for nonconforming tomboys will open up. Lee herself, writing in the 1950s, lacks the language and social imagination to fully develop this potentially powerful theme.
added by danielx | editNPR books, Maureen Corrigan (Jul 13, 2015)
 
Despite the boldness and bravery of its politics, Go Set a Watchman is a very rough diamond in literary terms … it is a book of enormous literary interest, and questionable literary merit.
added by Widsith | editThe Independent, Arifa Akbar (Jul 13, 2015)
 
It is, in most respects, a new work, and a pleasure, revelation and genuine literary event, akin to the discovery of extra sections from T S Eliot’s The Waste Land or a missing act from Hamlet hinting that the prince may have killed his father.
added by Widsith | editThe Guardian, Mark Lawson (Jul 12, 2015)
 
Watchman is both a painful complication of Harper Lee’s beloved book and a confirmation that a novel read widely by schoolchildren is far more bitter than sweet. Watchman is alienating from the very start.
added by Widsith | editTime, Daniel D'Addario (Jul 11, 2015)
 

» Add other authors (51 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lee, Harperprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Drews, KristiinaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johansson, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Witherspoon, ReeseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
אלפון, מיכלTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
In memory of Mr. Lee and Alice
First words
Since Atlanta, she had looked out the dining-car window with a delight almost physical.
Quotations
"Every man's island, Jean Louise, every man's watchman, is his conscience." "There is no such thing as a collective conscious".
"Aunty," she said, cordially, "why don't you go pee in your hat?"
I need a watchman to lead me around and declare what he seeth every hour on the hour.  I need a watchman to tell me this is what a man says but this is what he means, to draw a line down the middle and say here is this justice and there is that justice and make me understand the difference. I need a watchman to go forth and proclaim to them all that twenty-six years is too long to play a joke on anybody, no matter how funny it is.
I was taught never to take advantage of anybody who was less fortunate than myself, whether he be less fortunate in brains, wealth, or social position; it meant anybody, not just Negroes. I was given to understand that the reverse was to be despised. That is the way I was raised, by a black woman and a white man.
I detest the sound of it as much as its matter
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch -- "Scout"--Returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in a painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past -- a journey that can be guided only by one's conscience. Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision -- a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic." -- Book jacket.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
From Harper Lee comes a landmark new novel set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Maycomb, Alabama. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch—"Scout"—returns home from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise's homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past—a journey that can only be guided by one's own conscience.

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision—a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic.
Haiku summary
Scout Finch returns home/Atticus is a racist/Scout sees him anew (waitingtoderail)

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