Go Set a Watchman was a book club choice. I’ll admit that I was curious about the book. To Kill a Mockingbird is a hard act to follow and I’d sort of been putting off reading Go Set a Watchman, just in case it didn’t do as good a job. Still, not reading a book because it might not be good is silly. So read it we did.
I found Go Set a Watchman disappointing. I know I can’t be alone there. Apparently, it was actually written before To Kill a Mockingbird and, after several publishers rejected it, one editor suggested a re-write, focussing on Scout as a child. The result was To Kill a Mockingbird and, even if you were scarred by being forced to read it in high school, it’s hard to ignore the significance of the novel.
I think I agree with that editor. The story told through Scout’s eyes as a child works. To story told through her eyes as an adult, returning to Maycomb from New York, doesn’t. At least not for me. The characters irritate me, the events are annoying or silly and even the writing got on my nerves. Not to mention the politics. Perhaps it’s not intended but the message could be read as, “yes, racism is bad, but you’ve got to let people change as slowly as possible, it’s for everyone’s own good.” Yuck.
I should have stuck with To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout should have stayed in New York.