by Erin K. | | 6 Comments | Tags:

Hello, and welcome to the first discussion of Harper Lee’s book, Go Set a Watchman. If you haven’t joined us before, the Online Book Club is a book discussion that takes place entirely online. I write a new blog post each week, and will talk about different aspects of the book with each entry. You can read along and leave your comments in the comments section of the blog post. Feel free to read and comment at your own pace.

If you’re interested in participating in our discussion but are unable to read the book, feel free to watch the Harper Lee documentary on DVD or our digital service, Hoopla. I’ll be posting thoughts about that as well, so feel free to chime in with your opinions about the documentary!

Go Set a Watchman is a previously unpublished first draft of Harper Lee’s beloved classic, To Kill a Mockingbird. This book chronicles a couple of days in the life of twenty-six year old Jean Louise (Scout) Finch. Jean Louise returns home to Maycomb, Alabama, and faces a crisis of identity when she realizes that she and her father have a fundamental difference of opinion about civil rights.

The publication of this book was mired in controversy, but we’ll talk about that more fully in the next blog post.

I encourage you to read this book not as a sequel to To Kill a Mockinbird, but as a first draft of a novel that would eventually morph into To Kill a Mockingbird. Brilliant Books, an independent bookstore in Traverse City Michigan, has a great short opinion piece about how to read the novel if you’re interested.

I hope to hear from you all next week! Start reading the book, and we’ll discuss how this book came to be in the next blog entry.

And here is a short clip from the documentary, Harper Lee: From Mockingbird to Watchman, that you can find on our Hoopla digital streaming service. I strongly encourage you to watch the documentary. It’s really, really interesting!

6 Responses to “Go Set a Watchman: Week 1”

  1. Carrol

    Thank you for the insights given through the video clip and Brilliant Books. That information is very helpful as I read this book.

    It is hard to keep the two books separate since the characters overlap. I am not enjoying the way these characters have changed. I am feeling sad and disappointed.

    I will keep an open mind as I continue reading the book.

    • Erin K.

      Carrol, it’s good to see you again this month! I’m glad that the article and clip seem interesting. I hope you’re able to get a chance to watch the documentary. It was really cool.

      I, too, struggled with the fact that the characters have changed. But, I still think I’m glad I read the book.

      I hope you’ll join us next week as we talk about the publication of the book. You’ll have to tell me if you think Harper Lee really wanted this book published.

  2. Toni G

    I read the book this past winter and I reread To Kill a Mockingbird. Like Carol, it’s now hard to keep the characters separate. The second book is wonderful for its honesty, but I’d like to think that the original Atticus was also real. I’m going to have to look at the book again and check out the documentary.

    • Erin K.

      Toni, I totally understand your comment about wanting both Atticus characters to be real. I think that’s why it’s important to read this as a first draft and not a prequel. If we read this book as a first draft, then we can see that this Atticus character was an accurate representation of his time, and we can see the Mockingbird Atticus as another separate entity.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I hope you do get to check out the documentary. It is so interesting!

  3. Caitlin E.

    I had been very curious about Go Set A Watchman, so I picked it up, and finished it in literally two days. I’ll probably go back and restudy a few parts, because I feel like there were some aspects I might not have absorbed fully, having been in such a rush to find out how this story concluded! I’ve been fascinated to be able to read what feels like a “sequel,” but isn’t even technically a prequel–rather a very different first draft of a novel that’s so famous for the issues it deals with. On that note, thanks for posting that opinion piece from Brilliant Books; easy to see how misconceptions could arise from marketing ploys.

    Very interested to see what the discussion will be!

    • Erin K.

      Caitlin, I’m glad that you’re joining us again! Even though I just read Watchman, I feel like I should re-read it, too, just because it has so many complex parts.

      I think this book is so incredibly interesting because it shows the behind the scenes editing and changes that happen to a book before it’s published. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten to have that kind of a look at a book before, so i’ts really cool to see how Harper Lee changed her story over several years and revisions.

      I hope to hear more from you as the month progresses!

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