Go Set a Watchman

  • by Harper Lee
  • Narrated by Reese Witherspoon
  • 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An historic literary event: the publication of a newly discovered novel, the earliest known work from Harper Lee, the beloved, best-selling author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic To Kill a Mockingbird.
Originally written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman was the novel Harper Lee first submitted to her publishers before To Kill a Mockingbird. Assumed to have been lost, the manuscript was discovered in late 2014.
Go Set a Watchman features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some 20 years later. Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch - Scout - struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her.
Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee's enduring classic. Moving, funny, and compelling, it stands as a magnificent novel in its own right.


What the Critics Say

"All [characters] are portrayed by Witherspoon with perfect pitch and pacing, and the sure hand of a talented actress who is well aware of the region's racially fraught past." (AudioFile)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

To Kill A Mockingbird vs Go Set A Watchman

I hesitate to step into the turmoil of writing a review here of this newly released and much anticipated novel from Harper Lee. Like many of the reviewers here on audible I read and loved To Kill A Mocking Bird as a child and watched the movie and fell in love with the characters and the south portrayed so beautifully. Like many, the movie subtly took over for the book in my mind, without my awareness and I remembered them as a blur together.

Several months ago I decided to reread To Kill A Mockingbird. Goodness was I shocked. It was not the story from the movie, not the beloved book from my childhood, not a book for children. In the end, a much darker and more forbidding tale than I had remembered. Much of the deeper story had eluded me as a child. As an adult a new story line, even a different book appeared. Mockingbird became a raw, multilayered look at life, families, and the rough and often hateful ways people treat others--neighbors, enemies, children and friends alike. Filled with hypocrisy, double standards and shameful behavior exposed through the eyes of a child, Scout.

I read all the back stories about this new manuscript and I was filled with anticipation for this "adult" book from Harper Lee. My understanding is that this book, Go Set A Watchman, was not a "reject" as suggested here; but that the publisher wished to soften the story by changing the perspective and having the words and social commentary come from the voice of a child. This change in focus made it easier to get a difficult message across without offending the target audience. To me, Go Set A Watchman, is a very different, very adult book. Not easily read by any means, and at the same time impossible to put down.

My advice is to keep an open mind and give this beautiful book a chance. It is not often in a reader's life that we are given a chance to experience a world, created by an author, "age" and to see the characters come full circle to adulthood. I for one view this as a gift and a surprise I never in a million years expected. They are each good and valuable books and harsh comparisons are a waste. My suggestion is to read both books, allow them a chance to stand on their own and decide for yourself. To me it was definitely worth the time. I loved it.
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- STS "..."

An Unflinching Discussion of Social Change

To start out, I am fairly certain that many of the reviewers today on the day of launch either completely missed the meat of the book or, (much) more likely, wrote a review prior to actually listening to the book. Such is the nature of things.

I am at once conflicted and elated by this novel. I am a criminal defense lawyer in the south, so Atticus Finch has, by necessity, been a literary hero of my kind since he first entered the cultural mainstream. He is a beacon of unwavering adherence to truth and justice, fighting the most unpopular of fights. The most honorable man one could be.

As such, it was with exceptionally great alarm that I rode along with Scout as a 26 year old returning to her home during the civil rights era of the 20th century. Her conflict became my own, whether allegorically or through projection. Lee explores, with breathtaking precision, the pressures of maturing and separating into ones own identity in both a personal and social dialogue.

The developments over the course of the book, especially as they pertain to Atticus, broke my heart in a myriad of ways, just as they did to Scout. The blinding resolution, the commentary on generational change and growth, stunned me into silence.

I can understand why the publisher originally passed on this book, written in the 1950s. If you think Mockingbird was controversial... just wait. I had to repeatedly remind myself that these chapters weren't written now, in the context of hindsight, but rather 60 years ago. Aside from that, I honestly think that Watchman, as a 'sequel', had a *much* greater impact in context. Scout's disillusionment becomes our own, just as her final resolution clears us to forgive or understand, in what limited measure we can, the failures of the previous generation.

I realize that this book will be incredibly controversial one way or the other. Let it rest on your brain and percolate through you to distill out into what Lee was actually trying to say. Look past the slurs and the fallen idols. Take it in the context from where it originated.

A tremendous book from one of the great writers of the 20th century. Absolutely worth a credit and your time.
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- Charles

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-14-2015
  • Publisher: HarperAudio