Go Set a Watchman ~ By Harper Lee – Bee Readin'

Go Set a Watchman ~ By Harper Lee

The Hidden Women by Kerry Barrett is a historical novel that goes between present day 2018 and back to the war in 1944. The story delves into the history of the women who flew for the ATA in Britain and family secrets one woman hoped would never be uncovered.

I was pulled into this novel immediately. First I love historic novels, second, I am incredibly curious and thirdly, I am deep into genealogy, so discovering family stories really intrigues me.

The book starts in present day London 2018. Helena Miles is a young single mom who loves digging into the past and it is also her job. She works as a researcher for a hit television show “Where Do You Come From”?, and her work has her dealing with mainly celebrity families. When the handsome superstar Jack Jones blows into her life, Helena will put on a path she never saw coming. While researching Jack’s genealogy, a familiar name pops up and Helena finds herself unexpectedly sliding down a deep dark rabbit hole into her own family history.

Readers are soon transported back Berkshire, England 1944. Lillian Miles is an ATA pilot and flies every type of aircraft during the war. When her niece starts poking around, she remains quiet about the secrets she has locked deep in her soul hoping they would never be discovered.

Helena’s job has strict rules about using the company resources to research your own family, but she ignores them hoping no one will discover her digging into her own family. Jack encourages her to continue her work and helps her along the way. This too will bring Helena trouble.

When Helena brings the information to her family, her father has his own questions and wants her to continue researching. What she discovers could quite possibly destroy her family. What happened to her Aunt Lillian during the war, why won’t she talk about it and what do the answers mean for her family?

If you really enjoy historical novels, are curious about the past and family stories and genealogy, you will love this novel. I enjoyed going between present day and the past to learn Lillian’s story. The book really is about friendship, sisterhood, strong women and family secrets.

The author did an incredible job bringing the character’s to life, giving them depth and you may just find yourself sympathetic to both sides. One wanting to keep the past secret and the other needing to know the truth.

I noticed the book was published a year ago today, so happy book anniversary to Kerry Barrett for a truly wonderful novel. Even better, Amazon’s Kindle price today is .99 cents. Don’t know if it is a one day deal or the price for now, but either way, it is totally worth the buy and read.

Until next time,
Bee Readin’

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8 thoughts on “Go Set a Watchman ~ By Harper Lee”

  1. I TOTALLY disagree! If Harper Lee submitted this manuscript, she had wanted it published. That it was rejected as it was first submitted doesn’t mean she didn’t want it published.

    That the editors had her write a different version and then reworked it, as editors do … that gave us To Kill A Mockingbird. Who knows, if Go Set a Watchman had been given the same editors’ attention, whether the characters and flow would not have also been as amazing at her first published book. For that, I am sad.

    That Harper Lee didn’t have a loving daughter who could have worked with editors and presented a reworked version as stellar as To Kill a Mockingbird … doubly sad.

    It did take me a bit to get into the flow of the book … and it did pick up towards the end. But I also learned more about Atticus … and the whole family.

    I think readers should NOT stay away. There is a lot to learn … and how remarkable that Harper Lee wrote this as a first draft … with all its flaws, it is still quite a story.

    Sorry, Terri … I’d still recommend it, as a story by an amazing author … and leave it to the readers to decide. Definitely, Tod should read it … and you’ll should have an amazing discussion, over mint iced tea and maybe a slice of Lane cake!

    1. Joanne,
      This is why I love Book Club and book discussions in general. I so enjoy the discussion. Actually if you google it, she did not want this book published and asked that it not be published years ago. Her attorney found the manuscript attached to one of To Kill a Mockingbird, and it was decided that they would have it published. In a private interview with Oprah, she explained to her why she didn’t want the book published and Oprah asked her if she was like Scout, she said No, Boo Radley.
      The book was very hard for me to get through and I simply didn’t enjoy it. I had to keep an open mind when reading it. It really was the first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird. Sadly, she suffered a stroke in 2007 leaving her mostly deaf and blind. She also said for no amount of money would she promote another book. I find her fascinating and it makes me a little sad to see the book being published without her permission, knowing she didn’t want it out there. Mint iced tea and Lane Cake would be perfect. Thanks so much for your thoughts and opinions, I love it!

      1. Interesting. What I found under Oprah and Harper Lee interview was an informal chat at the Four Seasons in NYC … and Harper Lee made it clear that she would never do an interview. And she never did.

        But what I do see is that she said repeatedly that she didn’t want Watchman published. In fact, in 1962, when asked: “How do you feel about your second novel?” another asked. “I’m scared,” Harper Lee replied.”

        Other comments: Lee had many other explanations for why the anticipated novel failed to materialize. To a cousin: “When you’re at the top, there’s only one way to go.” To a bookseller: “I said what I had to say.” To a friend: “I wouldn’t go through the pressure and publicity I went through with To Kill A Mockingbird for any amount of money.”

        And she did say that she WAS Boo Radley.

        So maybe she had a taste of the fury surrounding her and didn’t want to personally do that again. But that doesn’t mean she wanted it withheld … just it was too much for her.

        Who knows. But having written one of the most revered novels of the 20th century … people want more from her.

        LOVE BOOK CLUB!!!

        1. She had reasons why she didn’t want it out there, and it felt a bit uncomfortable reading something she didn’t want out there for what reason, only she knows. Obviously, she didn’t like the publicity and I can understand that with her being Boo Radley. Love To Kill a Mockingbird and appreciate the character of Boo Radley even more knowing it was her. Like you, I Love Book Club, the women, the discussions and opinions, it is engaging, fun and fantastic discussions, while supporting and appreciating the differences in thoughts and opinions. What a fantastic group.

    1. Hi Janet,
      That is a tough call. Reading is so subjective and everyone has different opinions based on what they like to read. This was just a tough read for me, especially after To Kill A Mockingbird. If you read it, please, please, please jump back on and let me know what you think of the book. Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for the comment.

  2. To read or not to read? Here’s a thought:

    Harper Lee became a literary figure on the success of To Kill a Mockingbird. For whatever her reasons for not published Go Set a Watchman, it’s still a story with the same characters at a different time. Could it have used some editting … absolutely. But the essence was there.

    As long as it was not her personal memoirs or diary, I’m not so sure that it is wrong to read it. I had the same concerns … and also didn’t want to have my image of Atticus tarnished. It wasn’t, in the least.

    BTW, how did it get published? Was she involved or was it a personal lawyer who insisted and made it happen?

    1. Joanne,
      Here is a link to an article printed by Bloomberg and is the best article explaining what is going on with Harper Lee. I hope you find it interesting. http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-harper-lee-go-set-a-watchman/. Cut and paste it into your browser. It is quite interesting.

      My image of Atticus was not tarnished at all, nor was my image and opinion of Harper Lee. In my heart this is a rough draft, completely unedited start to what would become To Kill A Mockingbird. If I was an author, I would not want anyone to read the unedited rough draft, that is simply my thoughts in writing. In my opinion only, it was all done for someone to profit and I am not sure it is Harper Lee.

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