Brief Book Review
I’ve finished Go Set A Watchman and had some time to reflect on it and, unfortunately, there isn’t much to say. There is certainly nothing that hasn’t already been said, since it has turned out to be one of the most talked-about books in American literary history. I agree with most of the negative reviews. Watchman seems like a first draft. There is raging debate over whether it was, in fact, the first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. But in any case, it’s a first draft. It’s full of little pieces — snippets of needless dialogue, cliched descriptions — that would probably have been cut from a final draft.
But whether Harper Lee intended to write two stories or not, she has done so. A summary of Mockingbird might say,
Young Scout Finch learns shining lessons of morality and integrity by watching her humble and courageous father stand up to racial oppression in the segregationist South.
A summary of Watchman would say,
Jean Louise Finch, a young lady from the segregationist South of the mid-twentieth century, comes to terms with her disappointment in the father she has always looked up to, and the moral relativity of cultural oppression.
Judge for yourself which is the most appealing work. In my opinion, Watchman is Mockingbird’s inferior both in the quality of its prose and the respectability of its message.