[The original It's Monday! What Are You Reading? hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey]
Initially, I had no intention of reading Go Set a Watchman, mostly because I wasn't sure this was a book that Harper Lee wanted published. The circumstances surrounding the "discovery" of the manuscript was/is really questionable, and it's hard to imagine that Lee would want this released unedited. But I bought it for my son who has read To Kill a Mockingbird at least a couple of times; I thought it would be educational and insightful for him to do a compare-and-contrast reading. And, if it would be good for him, it's probably good for me to do the same. As if on cue, my book club chose to read it for our September meeting.
I didn't get a chance to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird, but those who did said it was clearly the better book and agreed with reports in the media that Go Set a Watchman was a first draft that was reworked by Lee and her editor.
There was a lot online about how upset die-hard Atticus fans were with the older Atticus character in Go Set a Watchman. I was always a Scout fan, so I was much more upset with the older Scout character. Not that I had a clear vision of what I imagined Scout to be like in her 20s, but I was disappointed in how she was portrayed as an adult much more than I was disappointed in Atticus's portrayal as an aging racist and states rights supporter.
I feel like it requires a bit of brain power to remind myself that although chronologically, Go Set a Watchman takes place after To Kill a Mockingbird, it was written first. So the character development and progression we imagine there to be as Scout and Atticus age is, in fact, not correct. Does that make sense? It's wrong to consider this book as a sequel and I almost look at it as if Scout and Atticus are in a parallel universe. Not all of the details match up, and while it's believable that these are the same people across time, there are clearly those who don't believe that the Atticus of To Kill a Mockingbird would have aged into the Atticus of Go Set a Watchman.
Anyway, it's a quick read so it's worth reading if you're a To Kill a Mockingbird fan and want to see how a manuscript can change over time with editing. It seems to me that if Harper Lee says she never comments about To Kill a Mockingbird because she said everything she needed to say in the book, then it was probably without her full approval that Go Set a Watchman was published. There's too much here that needs to be clarified and reworked. This is not a fully-hashed out story and would never have been an American classic if it was published as-is in the 1950s.
WHAT I READ LAST WEEK:
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
WHAT I PLAN TO READ THIS WEEK:
The Little Free Library Book: Take a Book Return a Book by Margret Aldrich