A Review Roundup Of “Go Set A Watchman”
I hope to have my review of the new Harper Lee novel ready tomorrow. In the meantime, I thought I’d pull together some short quotes from reviews across the web.
Here’s what others are saying about Go Set A Watchman:
Though the new book is, to be blunt, a string of clichés, some of them are clichés only because, in the half century since Lee’s generation introduced them, they’ve become clichés; taken on their own terms, they remain quite touching and beautiful. – The New Yorker
“One of the emotional through-lines in both Mockingbird and Watchman is a plea for empathy — as Atticus puts it in Mockingbird to Scout: ‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.’ The difference is that Mockingbird suggested that we should have compassion for outsiders like Boo and Tom Robinson, while Watchman asks us to have understanding for a bigot named Atticus.” – The New York Times
“When Harper Lee’s editor, Tay Hohoff, received the manuscript of Go Set a Watchman in 1957, she felt, as she later wrote, that ‘there were many things wrong about it’; ‘there were dangling threads of a plot’, but there was enough life in it, and enough wisdom and wit, she said, that ‘the editorial call to duty was plain’. Reading the book now, it’s hard not to think Hohoff deserves a posthumous Pulitzer: to see the potential for a book of Mockingbird’s quality in this one is an act of exceptional perspicacity and optimism.” -The Telegraph
If Lee had revised a few drafts of this version of the book instead of refocusing it around Tom Robinson’s trial—if she had truly grappled with some of the moral questions she presents—Go Set a Watchman could’ve been a powerful book….As-is, this is merely a voyeuristic glimpse at spare parts repurposed for a sleek but ultimately less interesting novel we probably never should have seen. -The Concourse
Perhaps the best thing about this book is that it gives us a way to look at history from a great distance. It has been 61 years since the Brown decision, and now we have the hindsight to see the larger impact that Lee’s characters could not quite see: an outcome, as Warren suggested — that “desegregation is just one small episode in the long effort for justice.” – Washington Post
Go Set a Watchman is a troubling confusion of a novel, politically and artistically, beginning with its fishy origin story. Allegedly, it’s a recently discovered first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, but I’m suspicious: It reads much more like a failed sequel. There are lots of dead patches inGo Set a Watchman, pages where we get long explanations of, say, the fine points of the Methodist worship service. -NPR
As you can see, the reviews are mixed, with a leaning toward negative. You can add my review to that mix either tomorrow or Thursday.
I see so much beauty in Go Set A Watchman, but it disappoints in many other ways.
More to come.