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Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee.

July 21, 2015

watchmanGo Set A Watchman by Harper Lee. Pub. William Heinemann: London 2015.

I just had to read this novel and put in my 2 bobs worth because To kill A Mockingbird was one of my favourite childhood novels and because early publicity about this novel suggested Atticus Finch was a racist. Bullshit!!!

Atticus Finch is now 72 years old and suffers from arthritis. He still lives in Maycomb Junction with his sister Alexandra who is a real star of this novel. He practices law as he always will, sits on the town council and still upholds justice. He can still hold an argument, stand up for his principles and has  a sharp sense of humour. When Scout or Jean Louise is found to have swum in the river with her intended Henry and it is suspected that it was in the nude, Atticus retorts “I hope she wasn’t swimming on her back”.

Jean Louise now 26 years, returns on holiday after living 2 years in New York where life is open and things that would horrify citizens of Maycomb, go unnoticed. Jean Louise has put Atticus up on a pedestal because of her childhood and the only place for him to go is down.

The world is changing for race relationships in America with the Civil Rights Movement taking off faster in some areas than it is in the South. Jean Louise attends a Council meeting chaired by Atticus and her intended Henry and a rank redneck speaker charges against desegregation and talks nigger this and nigger that. Jean Louise is physically sick.

Confrontation between Jean Louise and Atticus is inevitable and as Atticus would say absolutely necessary. He has brought Scout up to be her own person and that she surely is. Their confrontation is stunning, an inter-generation barney that is unforgettable and one that lifts this novel from more than a sequel to Mockingbird and into a stand alone classic on it’s own.

Bob Dylan a decade later wrote”get out of the new world if you can’t then you’re damned cos the times they are a’changing”. Not everyone moves at the same pace with Maycomb and old age being well behind New York and youth. but it is the words of Atticus that define this novel for me “Hypocrites have just as much right to live in this world as anybody”. Go ahead cast the first stone.

Don’t miss this book.

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