If you love Harper Lee, don’t read ‘Go Set a Watchman’

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If Harper Lee wanted to destroy everything good she did in To Kill a Mockingbird, I’d say Go Set a Watchman was a massive success. But I’m afraid it may be an even greater tragedy than an author self-destructing.

I wish I could un-read this novel, and it’s not because it was a terrible sequel, it’s because it caused me to doubt every character that was great in one of the best novels of all time.

Had Go Set a Watchman been a genuine sequel I could have dismissed it, but it allegedly wasn’t. Apparently it was Harper Lee’s first novel. After being rejected by publishers, Lee went away to write the prequel, To Kill a Mockingbird. In doing so she created one of the most heroic, moral characters ever written.

Go Set a Watchman gives us an insight into the ‘original’ Atticus, and he turns out to be a disappointing shadow of the man we thought we knew. Reading through Scout’s eyes, once again, we find ourselves wondering whether, like her, we had seen Atticus incorrectly all along.

There is only one way in which Lee is redeemed in my eyes and therein lies an even greater tragedy. She never wanted this book published.

Harper Lee, the unassuming, silent, reclusive, now elderly author, has possibly been manipulated and betrayed by money-hungry publishers.

As one writer put it, tragically “Our Boo Radley [has been] dragged into the light.”

Don’t read this book.

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Things I’ve learned from Killing Consumerism #10 – The joy of receiving

I’ve always loved receiving gifts, but I’ve noticed over the last few years that the enjoyment has worn off. I loved the thrill of being surprised with something I really wanted, but, as I got older, I found that people seemed to miss the mark. I slowly, and somewhat cynically, lowered my expectations.

Just this week, I suddenly realized why.

I had lost the art of wanting, and so had lost the joy of receiving. It is dizzying to think of the speed at which I purchased things to meet my every whim. Before anyone had time to think to buy something for me, I had already bought it for myself.CJ3JXUcWoAAZIaE

This year has been different. At first I noticed it slowly: the joy of a beautiful candle as a housewarming gift; two friends who bought me a necklace because they knew I wouldn’t buy it myself. But then, on Friday night, it all hit home with sparkling clarity.

I was out for dinner and got a text from mum saying they’d bought me something. I dropped past their house on the way home.

They’d bought me Harper Lee’s ‘new’ book, Go set a Watchman. I was thrilled, and touched and blessed. And suddenly it hit me. If it weren’t for my resolution this year, I would have pre-ordered the book before it even hit the shelves. In holding back, and depriving myself, I’m creating room for others to bless me. And I’m rediscovering the joy of receiving.