Book Review: Go Set a Watchman

By Drum Digital
24 November 2015

Anyone who returns to their hometown after a significant period of time has to grapple with a lot of mixed feelings

By Harper Lee

(Random House, R210 at takealot.com)

. It is no different for Scout or Jean Louise as she is now known, a young woman who leaves her home in New York to visit her father and friends in the small town of Maycomb, Alabama in the American South.

This is a coming-of-age novel set in the 1950s, where the main character has to deal with her own personal feelings towards the generational gap between herself and the people she left behind. It also exposes the prejudices between the races, the divide between the North and South of America and above all, the shock of discovering that her father, who she hero-worshipped, is not the man she thought he was.

Go Set a Watchman was written 55 years ago, before the author’s debut and Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which is an American literary classic.

That first story dealt with rape and racial prejudice as witnessed through the eyes of the then-10-year-old Scout Finch. Her lawyer father Atticus defended the innocent black man accused of raping a white woman. Jean Louise and readers’ familiar with the original characters are shocked to discover that Atticus, the assumed man of integrity, humour and patience, is a racist.

This book can be read as a stand-alone but it is worth revisiting the first book, which is also available.

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