If this is indeed the original concept for what evolved into Mockingbird, it might be useful or even exciting for Lee scholars, but it left an average reader like me wondering what all the fuss was about. Go Set a Watchman is less refined, more rambling, and less effective than To Kill A Mockingbird. That book told its memorable and now-classic story with subtlety and assurance. This tale, set years later, still has Maycomb and Atticus and Scout, but otherwise seems disconnected from the earlier book.
Watchman's prose is inelegant, sometimes almost incoherent. Much of the action is internal, as the now grown-up Jean Louise struggles to come to terms with...something. Herself? Racism? Atticus? I wasn't ever quite sure, and I don't think Scout was either. Her confusion, hurt, and uncertainty are clear, but not much else is. The plot wanders, and spends too much time on inconsequential memories and actions that don't advance either the story or an understanding of the characters, of how they've changed and why. There are pages of confusing quasi-philosophical debates that explain little and solve nothing. It's very mundane, with an anticlimactic and implausible resolution.
I didn't hate the book, but didn't like it much either. Ultimately, it just seemed to me that Go Set A Watchman didn't say very much that was worth saying.
What the heck, Scout? You stand your ground almost until the very end, not caring whether you alienate your family because dang it, you have ethical morals and you will defend them to the end almost. Then your uncle slaps you across the face and pours some liquor down your throat, and all of a sudden you concede and are okay with the way things are. Tsk tsk, young lady. This book does not hold a candle to To Kill a Mockingbird, and fortunately for fans of the great classic, it does not take anything away from it either. In fact fans of TKAM may end up loving the classic even more!
I see why "To Kill a Mockingbird" had to be published first. ALL of the characters and events would not be as effective if we hadn't have Scout, Jem, Calpurnia, and Atticus for the past 50 years - in both movie and book forms.
This was Scout growing up to be Jean Louise - all in the matter of a few days. If __I__ had not read (and eventually saw) Mockingbird before reading Watchman, I could not appreciate the growth she undergoes - at all. If Atticus was not so definitively set as the solo bastion, I could not enjoy meeting his brother and sisters (yes, there are more Finch's in Maycomb County!) as much.
The title IS the meaning of the book. You should read it and watch Scout grow understand WHY she needed to 'Go Set a Watchman' - finally.
PS. This is one of my rare five star ratings. I'm gonna have to wait a few months and see if I keep this opinion after enough time has passed.
I guess we can't blame Harper Lee and/or her publisher for putting a sure-fire money maker on the market, but this is like watching a world-class athlete return after too many years away from his sport. This book simply doesn't work on so many levels. Where Scout of TKAM is endearing, Jean Louise is annoying. It is telling that the original Finch home has been torn down and is now a commercial establishment - the parallels go on and on. I gave this book 2 stars out of respect for Harper Lee, a once great literary "athlete" reduced to this.
Harper Lee did a fantastic novel that takes you back to the 'good o'l days post segregation in the south,however,the laws may have changed the mind set in many hasn't.A good interior look at those who struggle on holding on to the past in a an evolving society.The books introspect is about change and how those effected by it can change or cling to the past and at the same time attempt to move ahead in a way that maintains their dignity and moral conscience.The language and racial slurs may upset many,However,remember the honesty of the time setting and references of the period and you will understand it couldn't have been done otherwise without sacrificing the honesty of history of the past.You will be in lighted by reading this book for young and old alike.And if older you will remember back and then wonder if we have 'really' moved ahead or just found out a way to be socially correct.