4 thoughts on “Read the novel before you judge it: Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman

    1. Thank you! The naysayers had their own agenda, I think, of getting their names out there rather than talking about the book. Please DO read it, even if you wait for the paperback.


  1. I’ll admit up front I have yet to read Watchman. I’ve read the excerpts and listened to the abridged reading on the BBC, but I’m waiting on a library copy. I’m quite looking forward to it. I think you’re right about what was considered an acceptable topic for a woman (especially then). Childhood is acceptable; womanhood is not.

    In addition, two things have struck me about the reviews, the sentimental attachment to Mockingbird, to the point that the idea that the author — the author! — should have dared come up with a different story inspires outrage, and the insistence that Harper Lee, as woman and icon, has to be protected. Protected by her editor, her sister, her neighbours … Male writers (Salinger, for example) generally don’t inspire such insistence, nor such acceptance the idea of a single career-defining novel. That’s not a natural state for a writer. Was she, in the end, protected into silence? If she had been able to publish Watchman, to a certain amount of controversy and the kind of reviews generally given first novelists, mightn’t she then have gone on to have a full career?


    1. Southern protection? Protection of the southern ideal and its limitations? I don’t know, I’m not a North American. I don’t know whether she ‘allowed’ herself to be protected, or had no choice and had to endure it. Watchman does not suggest at all an author (or lead character) who needs to be protected.

      The sentimental attachment to Atticus is extraordinary; it must come from generations having been taught to revere him and his actions in compulsory school reading, as well as from the sainted Gregory Peck.


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