Marketed as the sequel to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, this recently published novel was supposedly written first. Lee was told to go away and try again, the result of which was Mockingbird, one of the greatest novels of all time.
Out of respect for Lee and the hazy details regarding consent about Watchman’s publication, I nearly didn’t read the book at all. It sat on my bedside table for weeks, goading and daring me to pick it up.
Reluctance gave way to curiosity and last weekend I turned the first page.
Yes it was flawed – some sections could have been edited more and some could have been taken out altogether – but I read it for what it was and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, had I sent it back to the library unread, I would done myself a disservice.
It’s almost as though Jean Louise (dear Scout from Mockingbird, all grown up) and the disappointment she finds in her father’s attitude is mirrored by readers. How dare Atticus be anything less than the noble man fighting the civil rights cause?
But it’s a time none of us could understand without being there and Lee places us squarely on the streets of Maycomb to help us see the day-to-day decisions behind her characters’ actions.
Let Jean Louise’s coming of age be your own. Forget the hype and embrace the book – whether it’s for the budding writer in you or the ardent reader, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Have you read Watchman? What did you think?!