Ever wonder what happened to Jean Louise Finch aka Scout when she grew up? Well wonder no more. It’s rare to witness a literary phenomenon, but Harper Lee’s long wondered about sequel to her iconic classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, is one such “once in a life-time” event. In Go Set a Watchman, Scout is a young woman living in New York who comes home to the fictional Maycomb County, Alabama and witnesses nothing short of the shattering of her idol and father, Atticus Finch, when she catches him, along with her wanna-be fiancé, Henry, at an unseemly town hall meeting full of racist rhetoric.
“Oh dear me, yes. The novel must tell a story.” – page 188
By now the story behind the story has almost over-taken the novel. Originally written before To Kill a Mockingbird, but returned to Lee by the publisher requesting she flesh out the childhood flashbacks of her protagonist and make something of that instead, Go Set a Watchman is both a prequel and a sequel (or a prequel sequel if you will). When you read those flashback scenes, it’s easy to see why the publisher was more tickled by those, and perhaps the tone of the rest of the novel was too volatile at the time. Lee has quite the gift for gab, and in her dialogue, which is both colorful and occasionally pedantic (Scout’s voice is clearly a vehicle for some impassioned politic views) she has crafted a book that is almost all talk. Her dialogue perfectly captures place, time and feelings…it’s as if she has transported us back to the Deep South in the 1950’s at the dawn of the Civil Rights Movement that would define a generation (a nifty almost post-modern trick as when she wrote this – this was now). Continue reading