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.