Gavin F (gavluvsga) wrote in 50bookchallenge,
Gavin F

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Book #20: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Number of pages: 278

Harper Lee's sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird" was a book that I was as excited about reading as the original, despite the mixed reviews I had read about it.

Set in the 1950s, the book has Scout, aged 26 and now referred to by her birth name Jean Louise, returns home. Her brother Jem, who appeared in the original book, is now dead and she is engaged to marry a young man named Henry, despite the disapproval of some of her family members.

The big turning point of this book is when she watches her father Atticus Finch at work; Atticus is now associating with a man called Grady O'Hanlon who, while not featuring heavily in the book, is memorable because of his incredibly racist views that he expresses in this scene. The whole episode completely changes Scout/Jean Louise's view of her father, who appears to have become something of a racist (his change in attitude from the original novel is noticeable). Because the book is set in a time when there was a lot of racial tension in the US, it does seem to be a necessary subject matter for this novel.

The first thing I noticed about this book was that, the narrative style completely changed, from Scout's first person narrative in the original to third person perspective, and I wasn't entirely sure why Harper Lee chose to do this. I did notice that the storyline was quite slow-moving, with a lot of talking, and that it was padded out with some flashback sequences to Scout's childhood in the form of her dreams. Overall, I quite enjoyed this, not least because of a heartfelt speech delivered by Scout/Jean Louise near the end. I didn't like it as much as the original, but I don't think it deserves any of the negative press some people gave it.

Next book: Fantastic Beasts and How to Find Them: The Original Screenplay (J.K. Rowling)
Tags: book review, drama, family saga, fiction, grief, in the media, parenting, period fiction (20th century), politics, race

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