Apologies, it’s been a few weeks since I last posted a book review but I can promise I have still been reading. Straight after reading The Bees which was the last book I reviewed (here), I read Josie’s Journey by Shaun Russell. I wanted to review it for you but to be honest I don’t think I really can. Some of you might remember the case of the Russell Murders back in 1996, which saw Josie, her mother Lin and younger sister Megan, brutally beaten in a hammer attack. Miraculously, Josie survived and the book records the years following, in recovery. If you ever get a chance to read it, do as for me I do remember the murders and followed some of Josie’s story after.
Ever since I first read it back in 2002-3, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee has kept the number one spot in my list of favourite books (read my post here), and I am not alone in this; To Kill a Mockingbird is a favourite for many, having mostly first encountered it at school. I also collect second hand copies of the book.
When I heard Harper Lee had released a sequel, Go Set a Watchman I knew I had to read it despite mixed reviews, and having now read it myself I can totally understand why some people didn’t enjoy it as much as the original. I didn’t hate the book, but I am not really sure what it set out to achieve?
My copy of Go Set a Watchman doesn’t actually have a blurb attached to it and while I could copy one from the web, the essential facts are that we meet Jean-Louise (Scout) now twenty-six, on her way back to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City. Atticus, her father, is now in his early seventies and suffering with arthritis. Continuing with themes around race and civil rights in the American South which To Kill a Mockingbird centred on, Jean-Louise now sees her family, Maycomb and its people in a new light which is a shock to her, much of which she finds deeply disturbing.
You definitely need to have read To Kill A Mockingbird first I reckon, while it’s not integral, there’s a lot of reference to Jean-Louise’s (Scout’s) childhood and the characters around at the time which provide context to Go Set a Watchman. The sequel builds on a lot of those themes and if you read the book as an isolated story, I’m not confident there is one.
One of the things I loved about To Kill A Mockingbird were the relationships between Scout, her brother Jem, their Father Atticus and their friends and neighbours. There was also a wonderful naivety to their lives and understanding of the world around which as children you only can but hold. Without ruining Go Set a Watchman for you, you learn that one of the key characters has died which for me instantly put me off a little bit, then towards the end of the book, Jean-Louise has an explosive argument with her father which again, left me feeling somewhat strange and concerned I could never revisit To Kill a Mockingbird in the same way again.
I don’t know, I have very mixed feelings about Go Set a Watchman and while I am pleased I have had the opportunity to read it, I haven’t really gained anything from doing so.
Have any of you guys read Go Set A Watchman? What are your thoughts?
Until next time x