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Sunday 26 July 2015

Review: Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman

Basically,No. It’s a pity that Harper Lee was prevailed upon to release this novel written half a century ago and before she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

The book is poorly structured and paced - it doesn’t have either the narrative drive or the emotional drive that you get in Mockingbird. The dialogue is – to use an appropriate cliché – wooden: it’s not so much dialogue as a collection of set-piece speeches. Some things are embarrassingly bad: notably when Uncle Jack morphs into Dr Freud in One Easy Lesson in order to make things at least half-right again between Jean-Louise and Atticus.

As for the content, my guess is that it does not stand the test of time and won’t be helpful in addressing America’s contemporary race issues which now are just as much a Northern as a Southern question.

At worst, there are going to be Reading Groups where someone will suggest that if it’s OK for Atticus Finch to be some kind of qualified racist then it must be OK for all of us.

The book has the overall sentimental feel of the work which followed it.But it would have been best for To Kill a Mockingbird to have remained the one-off, stand-alone achievement which it has been since it was published.

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