Go Set a Watchman is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some 20 years later.
Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand both her father's attitude toward society and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
An instant classic.
©2015 Random House Audiobooks (P)2015 Random House Audiobooks
At a fundamental level, it's trying to convey the same message as "To Kill a Mockingbird" (perhaps unsurprisingly, given its history), but there is a stark difference.
'Mockingbird' is a hopeful treatise on race relations. It gives readers a noble figure to aspire to, an ideal that seems so attainable.
'Watchman' feels like a hopeless scream into the void. It smacks of self-conscious desperation - the kind that knows its own futility but can't stand to do nothing.
Slow. Oh so slow. I took a long time to finnish it because I simply didn't care to open and continue reading/listening.
I missed a lot of what it was about, and didn't connect with any of the characters.
Very interesting read. could see how the author worked out issues etc. it was in your face at times and difficult content but glad i read it.
I want my 7 hours back. What a terrible novel. I have to applaud the narrator for attempting to make it engaging. I felt nothing for the characters in this story as opposed to feeling everything for them in the original novel. I am really disappointed in a story that should have been a novella but just dragged on and on and on.
"Fantastic! A worthy addition to "TKAMB""
Reese Witherspoon draws you into the world of Scout in a convincing and moving way. The humanity of this book has a gritty realism which brings a new dimension to Atticus Finch.
"Anti climax after Mockingbird"
Historical or Political
After to Kill a Mockingbird it had to be anti climactic.Im sure Americans would have enjoyed this but for a Brit I found it(with great respect) too Southern Staes for my untrained ear.
"... in which Scout grows up"
Amidst the plethora of discussion (mostly negative) about this title over recent weeks it would be easy to lose sight of the value of this book and the skill of Ms Lee. I've read suggestions that she didn't write it (rubbish, in my opinion), that it's a big Murdoch publicity stunt (possible, but so what) and that it is literary dross. Addressing the last of these, I strongly disagree!
One reviewer said it was not published earlier because it was no good; it had too many semi-colons - the last refuge of the literary insolvent. I'm not sure if that reviewer has re-visited TKAM recently, but if they had, they would see dashes galore and a reasonable dosage of semi-colons. Apparently that did not affect the literary merit of the earlier title.
Someone else said that this is a blunt instrument to convey Ms Lee's smooth message about race. I'm not sure if the reviewer considered that this title is intended to be more confronting that TKAM. If it was, then on that scale, no doubt it was a successful attempt.
A reviewer on this site suggests that its cross-references to TKAM are inaccurate. Some of them are. However, given the elapse of time between the events in each book, these inconsistencies might be seen as merely a doting daughter's rose coloured memories and not the truth, thereby re-enforcing the underlying message of the book that when you set out to sanctify the truth might be lost.
I could go on, but it is not necessary.
In my view you can put aside the critics (me included) and just listen to the book. Like me, you might love it for what it is.
It is a story about a little girl becoming an adult; of seeing things in greys and not just black or white. It is about the realisation that our heroes are mostly human; that there comes a time to accept that no matter where North lies on your moral compass, it is still your responsibility to walk in the correct direction. Mostly for me, this is a story about a very real love and respect between father and daughter. It is an important book for that as well as the racial issues that it identifies (and which still bedevil society today, 50 years plus after this text was written).
I felt that the book was the better for being read by someone as accomplished as Reese Witherspoon. It was a perfect read to my ear.
I will be listening to this again, and often.
"The Mockingbird is Watching..."
I would recommend it IF they'd liked To Kill A Mockingbird. There is something comforting about revisit familiar characters like Atticus and Scout. I also think Reese Witherspoon's narration was excellent. I really felt like I was in the South.
That old comforting feeling, for one thing. The ending surprised me a little too because I did not see it coming.
Undoubtedly, Scout. If they ever make a movie, she'd be the perfect choice for Scout. :) Her Aunt Alexandra was quite believable too.
I don't know... The Ballad of Jean Louise, maybe?
"I feel let down"
I find it hard to believe that Harper Lee really gave the OK to publish this book. It should have stayed in that safety deposit box where they found it. The book refers to things that happened in, To Kill a Mockingbird, but it misreferences the events. Other parts seem copy and pasted from the book.
If this book was not from Harper Lee, and was not riding on the coattails of such an iconic book, then I'd say it was OK, but slow. However, it is a book DOES have big shoes to fill, and because of that, it's a let down. Not only that, I feel it dishonors the book that came before it. This book should have remained unpublished. I feel this book is clearly a money grab by the publisher and should've been reedited to at least referenced its predecessor correctly.
"Just wasn't for me!"
I was so looking forwards to this book, continuing the story of To Kill A Mockingbird, which is in my top three books I have read, I just couldn't wait. Unfortunately I wish I hadn't read it, not because it's a bad book or because it wasn't enjoyable to read, but because it broke something in me that To Kill A Mockingbird created, memories, emotions and a philosophy which I felt I learnt from it, yes many of the characters were the same but they had also changed in so many ways that It just didn't feel the same. This is just how It affected me and it may affect you differently but I wish I had preserved the memory of to Kill A Mockingbird just the way it was and now it feels tainted. On a plus Reese Witherspoon was absolutely perfect as Scout, I was impressed and of course it was extremely well written and very funny in places, it just wasn't for me.
The stage for this story could not have been set better, or with more thought for the culture of the time. I was drawn in and lost in the telling.
"a memorable story"
beautifully written , and told in just such a stylish way to match. music too.
"an interesting take on racism in the south"
I enjoyed the story of Jean Louise as she went back home to maycombe. it took a while to get past the fact it was Reese Witherspoon reading it, but she did a good job and it was an enjoyable listen.
"Interesting and beautiful in a different way"
First of all Reese Witherspoon is brilliant!
Secondly this book needs to be read stand alone and apart from TKAMB which is hard to do. There are characters common to both obviously bit it's sometimes easy to see where the chunks of story were commuted to TKAMB and sometimes they haven't been. Easy to see why this was not palatable to the publisher at the time and makes Harper Lee all the more interesting because of it. All that being said, I love To Kill A Mockingbird so much that I can't ever like this one as much!
"Good , but don't expect an actual plot"
There's no real story line to this book more like a an in depth discussion that I throughly enjoyed , and I say this as a black person : There were things discussed in the book I found more as an eye opener .
Reese's narration can be confusing sometimes because it can be hard sometimes to tell whose character she is narrating . It's Still a very good read and I think people who gave it bad reviews were expecting something else , you just need to accept the book for what it is
"Fantastic book, challenging a really hard subject"
This is not so easy to read as Mockingbird but it tackles the subject of racism in a really different way and gives a "moment in time" perspective of issues in the Deep South. My experience and study of these issues is limited but the Book and film "12 years a slave", the movie "Lincoln" and then both of the Harper Lee novels give a really powerful overview. Thanks Harper Lee for sharing this book, you are a wonderful writer.
"Wonderful narration - a brilliant first audiobook!"
I really loved Reese Witherspoon's narration - she brought Maycomb to life for me. It was lovely to be back under the spell of Harper Lee and it was fascinating to hear the story as a draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, seeing what changed and what stayed the same. I did get a little confused over the races politics that I think I may read over physically just to get them straight in my head, but otherwise, really great.
"Ignore all the hype - just listen!"
All the hype and the crushing reviews from reviewers who had read only the first taster chapter have done a disservice to this book.
If you're expecting another 'Mockingbird' then you'll be disappointed, but taken as a stand-alone novel - and you don't have to have read 'Mockingbird - it's subtle and moving. The flashbacks to childhood flesh out the present and lighten the tone. Jean-Louise's return from her life in New York is realistic and moving. Her home town Maycomb now seems small and nasty-minded and to her dismay, her since-school boyfriend is part of it. Even her adored father Atticus appears to have betrayed his principles.
I found the race politics explored more subtly in this novel than in 'Mockingbird'. Jean-Louise's confusion, hurt and anger are all played out as she learns with Uncle Jack's help to lose her childhood idolatry of Atticus and understand him as a man, and consequently to come to a greater appreciation of the complex issues arising in Maycomb, and to learn that even she can be a bigot.
What really sells this audiobook is the narration. Reece Witherspoon is totally brilliant -once you've got used to the Southern drawl - at inhabiting Jean Louise and portraying all her emotional turmoil. Listening to the whole is an intensely real and moving experience.
"More incredible than I could imagine"
Honestly I am at a complete loss for words. This book has such a strong, rich and meaningful story, yet manages to never take itself too seriously, being quite frankly absolutely hilarious in parts. Reese Witherspoon also makes the perfect Scout- exactly as I imagined her in To Kill a Mockingbird. One of the best books I think I have read, or will ever.
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