Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

4 stars Historical Fiction

I liked this novel more than I liked To Kill a Mockingbird which is supposed to be the first book in this series. I think that’s because I understood the characters more and their actions and attitudes seemed to fit them. I read this book for book club, and listening to the discussions surrounding this book, it was interesting to hear the different viewpoints on the topics that we covered.

Jean Louise has returned to her hometown again from New York and I feel that she has changed and her views are more open. When Henry (a.k.a. Hank) picks her up, she is surprised that her father is not there but she enjoys Henry’s kiss. I think she enjoys how Henry tends to her. Henry wants to marry her and playfully and seriously, he asks for her hand in marriage, for which Jean Louise turns him down, again and again. Jean Louise likes her independence and N.Y living. Why would she leave that to come back here to live the simple life in Maycomb, AL? She likes Henry but love is a different story.

While back in Maycomb, Jean Louise gets lost between the present and past many times. She enjoys revisiting her memories of growing up in Maycomb and then facing, the current Maycomb, which has changed some over the years. Whether that change is for the better, is a matter of opinion. I enjoyed Jean Louise’s flashbacks and a few of them brought back memories of my own. Her revival preacher story and Jean Louise’s first dance were great stories and I was glad that she shared them.

There are racial remarks throughout the novel. They are subtle and quick, and if you didn’t stop and think about them, you might just miss them. The world around this small town is changing and whether Maycomb is changing too or wants to change, is something to consider as you read the novel.

I started to feel sorry for Jean Louise as I read. She had matured over the years and returned home to be confused. The title and the ending of the book, sealed the book for me. Jean Louise had it all along, she just needed to be told.