“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience.”
I finished reading Harper Lee’s new book which is actually her first book and was not released until now. This book is about a grown up Scout and a more grown up take on life in Maycomb. When I first saw spoilers about the character Atticus, I worried I would be upset and not like what I was going to read about him. But after reading the book, I like what Lee has done with this character.
In this book, Atticus becomes a human being. He is a human being with faults. This is appropriate for a grown up story. Although I have always loved the story of To Kill A Mockingbird and I still do, I realize it was about an idealized version of a father. Harper Lee shows us this in her new book. Like for any child growing up, Scout’s father had to be the perfect hero. She did not see that he had any failings. In Go Set A Watchman we see he has failings. It makes his character much more complex. At first this realization about Atticus almost destroys Scout and she wants to run as far as she can away from it. Then, with the help of her uncle, she comes to see that this experience has been necessary for her to see herself as a grown person and separate individual from her father. It is about Scout making this transition to adulthood.
I, like Scout, never thought I would want to know this new Atticus. But now I see he is a more complex character and he is not all bad either. He is a Southern man of that era, when the South was transitioning with the Civil Rights movement and desegregation. I think this is more realistic depiction of what he would be. We like to be able to put people in one category or another. Good or bad. See things as black or white. This book asks us not to do that but asks us to grow up and see people as they are and not run away, but try to find a meeting place.
|Around the World Reading Challenge, 2015|
Barnes & Noble announces all pre-orders of the hardcover edition* of Go Set a Watchman placed on BN.com on or before 12pm Eastern time July 13 will be delivered on July 14**, the on-sale date.
Harper Lee’s new book is being released this week. I am due to get my copy in the mail around mid-week according to the nice customer service rep I spoke with at Barnes and Noble. I had pre-ordered the book and then I lost my email record of it.
I am very excited to read this book. If you have been following the story, Harper Lee wrote Go Set A Watchman before she wrote To Kill A Mockingbird but her publisher wanted her to write a book about a younger Scout. So no one ever heard of Go Set A Watchman until recently. Harper Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for To Kill A Mockingbird and then never wrote another book that we knew of.
I am very excited to read this “new” book. And I really don’t want to hear a lot about what the book is about before I read it. I hate spoilers. When I do a review I don’t like to give away the whole story either and spoil it for other people. When I saw a recent headline in the Huffington Post about Atticus Finch, and what his character is like in the new book, I saw red. Every time I see that post I scroll quickly past it. Now that element of surprise has been taken from me. But I am blocking it out until I read the book for myself.
I am the same way about films. I don’t like to read a review that tells the about the entire film before I get a chance to see it. A big part of the pleasure for me is the mystery. Do you like to read reviews that give away the whole story?
I read on Salon.com this morning that a sequel to the novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee will be released this summer. The title of the new book is, “Go Set a Watchman.” Harper Lee, who is now 88 years old, is quoted in the Salon article. This is her first novel in 50 years. Ms. Lee won the Pulitzer Prize for “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
One of my favorite films of all time, based on the book, is “To Kill A Mockingbird,” starring Gregory Peck. It has a whole cast of wonderful actors including Brock Peters, Robert Duvall, Alice Ghostley and many more. Mary Badham and Phillip Alford play the children Scout and Jem. The screenplay is by Horton Foote and music by Elmer Bernstein.
We have our own copy of the DVD and have watched it over and over. I think the story is still pertinent today. It is about racial prejudice and prejudice against people who are mentally ill. It about standing up for what is right even when many people around you are against you. It is told through the eyes of the little girl Scout. I love her relationship with her brother Jem and all their adventures with their visiting summer friend Dill. There is some mystery in the story surrounding their neighbor Boo Radley who is shut away in his house except for his nighttime forays where he leaves little gifts in the hollow of a tree for the children.
I am very interested in reading this new book. It is about Scout as an adult. You can read more about it in the Salon article. It states that Harper Lee wrote this book before she wrote “To Kill A Mockingbird” and the novel was just discovered last Fall. I suspect it will be made into a film sometime in the future.