First Impressions: Go Set a Watchman

I can’t believe I just typed that title.

Go Set a Watchman doesn’t hit the shelves until Tuesday, but the first chapter is already available to read at The Guardian, The Wall Street Journal, and The Sydney Morning Herald. Some intend to wait until July 14 to read it, but you know me: I jumped on it as soon as I realized it was available. Granted, it’s hard to tell much about a book after only one chapter, but so far, I think I’m going to like this one . . . .

The chapter opens on Scout–now twenty-six years old–returning to Maycomb from New York City, and as she does, you can feel yourself slipping into Maycomb’s regular rhythms again alongside her. The style that made me fall in love with Lee’s writing in the first place is still present in this much-earlier novel, as is her fantastic characterization. One of things I loved most about To Kill a Mockingbird is how much Lee was able to tell her readers about her characters using only their own words and actions: she does the same in Go Set a Watchman, helping us get reacquainted with the old characters and meet some new ones.

Speaking of new characters, I already like Henry Clinton, Scout’s love interest, very much. As strange as it is to think of Scout having a boyfriend, I think he’ll fit in wonderfully with Maycomb’s crew. I can’t wait to see how his story progresses, especially where his relationship with Scout is concerned.

There’s only one aspect of this chapter that I dislike: I was never fond of the sections in To Kill a Mockingbird where Lee goes into gory detail about the early history of Maycomb County, something she tends to do in this chapter as well. But luckily for me, the story quickly returns to Scout and her adventures.

I must say, being dropped all at once into 1950’s Maycomb was more than a little jarring, and while I would like to tell you that I was able to remain perfectly composed while learning of several major changes that have occurred in the Finch family since TKAM, I did everything but. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but Atticus fans, brace yourselves. Jem fans, have the Kleenex ready.

Have you read the chapter yet? What did you think? Or are you going to wait till Tuesday? Let me know in the comments.


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