Barry Pierce's Reviews > Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
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really liked it
bookshelves: 20th-century, read-in-2015

(edit: in the original review of this novel I gave it three-stars, after 24-hours of thinking about it I decided to upgrade it to four-stars, thus giving it the same rating that I gave to To Kill A Mockingbird)

This book is the literary equivalent of those reunion episodes of Entertainment Tonight. The whole cast of some old sitcom get together and you just spend the whole time thinking about how old everybody looks.

The basic plot of this new sequel/prequel/first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird is that our beloved narrator, Scout (now Jean Louise), is now in her twenties and returns from New York to visit her father, Atticus, in Maycomb. However, Atticus has changed in these years and now hold views and opinions that greatly upset Jean Louise. That's basically it.

Reading the first page of this novel you are immediately dropped into the familiar prose and voice of Lee's masterwork. Maycomb is alive again in your hands. The novel simmers along at a steady pace as Jean Louise reminisces about her childhood in the town and about her life now. Then about half-way through the plot turns as we discover about what Atticus has been up to. Unless you have been living under a rock then you already know what I'm talking about but if you don't know then I'll tell you, (view spoiler).

The rest of the book is spent with Jean Louise trying to comprehend her father's new views and it fizzles out after that. The ending of this was far too saccharine for my liking. TKAM was brutal at parts but there is no brutality in this book. It takes a fairly safe and maudlin approach to telling its story. I wouldn't call it bland but it is certainly quite vanilla.

However, if we look past these minor qualms we still have a thoroughly enjoyable novel by one of the 20th century's most celebrated writers. Celebrate that. TKAM purists might hiss and groan at the mere existence of this book, but don't listen to them. This is a good book.
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Reading Progress

July 13, 2015 – Shelved
Started Reading
July 14, 2015 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-19 of 19 (19 new)

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Maeve551 Insightful review, as always, Barry. I note the lack of sarcasm, high praise, indeed!


Veronica I loved your review! I liked it!


Veronica I loved your review! I liked it!


message 4: by Lynette (new)

Lynette Schultz I am glad to hear some positive things about this book. I think it is worth a read before people decide it isn't even readable. Thank you!


Garrett 4 stars from Barry? Interesting. I'm about 50 pages in and enjoying it so far. I'm really loving adult Jean Louise/Scout.


Lauracio Can't believe you liked it, now I repent having paid so much for it... Anyway I don't understand if your nonconformist thoughts are genuine or not, in the latter case I'd be really impressed


message 7: by Bodhi (new)

Bodhi sounds like a 3 star review to me. underdeveloped and not very deep. dont be guilted into upping the ante...


Dianne Landry I'm about 50 pages in and I love this book. For all those people who are disappointed in Atticus they should remember that he didn't volunteer to represent Tom he was court appointed. We want him to be something he never was. He was a good and loving father but he was not a progressive man. He was a good lawyer, doing a job he probably wouldn't have done voluntarily.


Karen Dianne wrote: "I'm about 50 pages in and I love this book. For all those people who are disappointed in Atticus they should remember that he didn't volunteer to represent Tom he was court appointed. We want him..."

Exactly. Important, too, is the fact that his views in the 1930's about black people changed in the 1950's when their civil rights became more of an issue in the South. That is one of the central points in the novel.

I found this novel to be very realistic of the time it was written about.


Dianne Landry Karen wrote: "Dianne wrote: "I'm about 50 pages in and I love this book. For all those people who are disappointed in Atticus they should remember that he didn't volunteer to represent Tom he was court appointe..."

I agree. I just finished the and I don't get what the fuss is all about. I think it was perfectly sensible and I saw nothing incongruous about the change in Atticus.


Edith Ray If there was a higher voting range for this book, I would certainly rate it higher! Wonderful characters! Giving us a lot to ponder on how history repeats itself. Who said that our past doesn't play a part in the choices and attitudes we have as history plays out for us.


message 12: by Erin (new) - added it

Erin Lol yes to the comment about the sitcom reunion! I just finished it tonight, and I am goung to wait before I give it a rating. I definitely think this is the type of book that you need to let sink in and think about after reading it.


Dianne Landry I finished it in less that 2 days and I absolutely loved this book. I have no problem with how Atticus is portrayed. He is an old man who is frightened that change is coming too quickly. It's a perfectly understandable reaction. I think people romanticized his character way too much and need to get over that. He was just a man not an angel or god.


Annamae Elliott Brilliant comments! It was so great to return to the Scout I loved from TKAM. Thanks for the positive review - and my want to finish the last 100 pages yet today!!!


Annamae Elliott Brilliant comments! It was so great to return to the Scout I loved from TKAM. Thanks for the positive review - and my want to finish the last 100 pages yet today!!!


message 16: by Rick (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rick Dianne made a good point about Atticus being court appointed. In TKAM we looked at him through the eyes of a six year old girl. It's natural to extend her hero-worship to him.


Randip Kahlon Great review!


Elaine Humphreys I loved this book too. It really leaves you with quite a few things to think about. It might not be the absolute classic that TKAM is, but it still had lots to say.
Jean Louise left home for New York and it was fascinating watching her rediscover her childhood, realising how it had shaped her and the emotional roller coaster she went on now that it was now out of reach. Anyone who has left home and has tried to go back experiences those feelings, and I for one, could really empathise with that. It was a coming of age novel in a political sense with her final traumatic acceptance. (No spoilers)
Then we move on to the bigger issues of civil rights. I think it is insightful in trying to explain the relative complexity.... And ironically the simplicity of the situation in the South. Change was coming, change was needed, some people desperately wanted the change, others desperately against it. How best to sort that out? It was never going to be easy.
This novel will stay with me for a long time no may warrant a re-read.(unusual for me)


بهناز پیری Great review!!!!!


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