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      Something Wicked This Way Comes...   10/09/2019

      The Autumn Supporter Giveaway!       Welcome to the very first of the seasonal BCF supporter giveaways! This month also marks one year since I took on the forum, so I want to say an extra huge thank you to all of you for keeping this place going. I have a little bit more to say about that later but, for now, let's get to the giveaway!     The Autumn Giveaway winner will be getting two Penguin Little Black Classics, The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe and To Be Read At Dusk by Charles Dickens. Both of these little books contain three atmospheric short stories, perfect for autumnal evenings. The winner will also get Mary Shelley tea (a lavender and vanilla black tea) from Rosie Lea Tea's Literary Tea Collection (https://www.rosieleatea.co.uk/collections/literary-tea-collection) and a chocolate skull, to really get that spooky atmosphere .   and...   A special treat for a special month. The winner will choose one of the following recent paperback releases from the independent bookshop Big Green Bookshop:       The Wych Elm by Tana French A House of Ghosts by W.C. Ryan Melmoth by Sarah Perry The Familiars by Stacey Halls  The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White   The winner will be chosen via the usual random selection process in one week. Patreon supporters are entered automatically. If you aren't a patreon supporter but you'd like to join in with this giveaway, you can support here: https://www.patreon.com/bookclubforum.   I really hope you're all going to like this introduction to the seasonal giveaways. It's been a lot of fun to put together. Other chocolate skulls may have been harmed during the selection process…     
Kylie

Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

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I think I am going to read it Kylie, with a little trepidation but then I am always like that if I have liked an authors other novels and don't want the next to be a disappointment (yes, Sebastian Faulks, that comment is aimed at you, be more consistent man!  :giggle: )  I read the first chapter in The Guardian yesterday and am a little intrigued so will buy it in the not too distant future I suspect, Thursday probably when I will not be able to ignore it as I walk past Waterstones! :)

 I have to admit that Attitcus wasn't my favourite character in TKAM anyway, I always felt there was something a little too perfect about him, so I would be eager to read how he behaves in this book. (I have been very careful to avoid spoilers so I'm not too sure what people have been saying though to be honest).

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<sigh> I have to say that everyone's negativity (not just here, but everywhere around the Internet) is quite a bummer. I really wanted to be excited about this once-in-a-lifetime literary event, but it's a bit hard with so much negativity around. I should just avoid everyone's comments. :(

 

For the record, there was reportedly an investigation into whether Harper Lee was coerced into publishing the novel, and no wrongdoing was found. That's good enough for me. I think everyone should give her a little more credit.

 

I completely disagree with your last sentence, Muggles. If anything, GSAW will show us how the author originally intended Atticus to be because it was written first. Here's an interesting article regarding Atticus and racism in TKAM, which suggests that we have indeed been placing Atticus on a pedestal all these years. Food for thought.

Ok, lets agree to disagree. :)  However, I find it hard to believe that Harper would wait until she was 89 years old to publish the book if someone else wasn't pushing for it. :P

 

We also need to remember that To Kill A Mockingbird is a work of fiction. As a work of fiction I prefer to keep Atticus as a hero that is looked up to in TKAM.

Edited by muggle not

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If it helps Kylie, I've read the first four chapters and think it's superb... the change in Atticus' personality will definitely not detract from the book for me, it just shows how she worked and reworked characters. Personally, I think Go Set A Watchman will do nothing but enrich the general 'To Kill a Mockingbird' experience for me.

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I'm interested in the book, but I will wait until the local library stocks it.

 

Maybe I'm just become (more) cynical, or has the recent comments about Atticus Finch being bigoted in the new book, is a bit of ruse to get even more people to buy the book?

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I'm interested in the book, but I will wait until the local library stocks it.

 

Maybe I'm just become (more) cynical, or has the recent comments about Atticus Finch being bigoted in the new book, is a bit of ruse to get even more people to buy the book?

 

I dunno, poor ruse if it is. Saw tons of people on Twitter saying they wouldn't read it and/or had cancelled their pre-orders due to disappointment regarding his character.

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I dunno, poor ruse if it is. Saw tons of people on Twitter saying they wouldn't read it and/or had cancelled their pre-orders due to disappointment regarding his character.

Yeah, it might have been a bad move, and I can see why many people are deciding not to buy it. Personally, I was horrified at the idea of Atticus not being heroic! Will have to see reviews soon.

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From what I understand, Go Set A Watchman was written first and set in a later period with flashbacks to Scout's childhood, and the editor at the time suggested that the flashbacks were so vivid that Lee should write a novel based on them instead.

Yes, and Harper Lee calls it the "parent novel" to To Kill a Mockingbird because it gave birth to the characters.

 

I think that is why I'm okay with the new novel being different and am not too worried about the "spoiler" I heard about on the news.  I'm really not even worried about whether it's good or not because of the above reason.  Personally, I think the hype is not about the quality, it's about the fact that an author who said she would never publish another book has published another book.  Remember, Go Set a Watchman was never meant to be published after Mockingbird came out in the first place.  It was found by accident and Lee, uncharacteristically, gave her consent to have it published. 

 

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of my favorite novels, but I don't think my love could ever be diminished by a prequel that doesn't live up to expectations.  Hopefully it will be enhanced.  I didn't pre-order it, but I'll will definitely be getting a copy.

 

Also, this is a historical literary event, and readers will be part of the history by reading it.  Maybe I'll tell my grandchildren about it one day.  Well, that sounded super geeky, but you guys get it. :reading:

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Nursenblack, I agree with everything you said. :)

 

I received my copy in the mail today. I'd already started reading the ebook because I couldn't wait, :blush2: but now I'll continue on with the hard copy. I'm about 95 pages in, and I'm really enjoying it so far. It's really well written (hardly surprising!) and, well, I'll put the next bit in spoilers, although it doesn't discuss any elements of the plot (I just don't want to risk ruining anything for anyone). Anyway,

there's a flashback that reads like it was a 'deleted scene' from To Kill a Mockingbird (which it probably was!) :D

 

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Ok, lets agree to disagree. :)  However, I find it hard to believe that Harper would wait until she was 89 years old to publish the book if someone else wasn't pushing for it. :P

 

 

I tend to agree, muggle.  OTOH, just to play Devil's Advocate, it's just possible that when one reaches the august age she has, she'd be willing to thumb her nose at the naysayers and/or those that hero worship Atticus..  IOW, a good sense of humor. :D   I suspect, it could go either way.  I think and hope she still has all her marbles and some of someone elses.  :P

Edited by pontalba

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I tend to agree, muggle.  OTOH, just to play Devil's Advocate, it's just possible that when one reaches the august age she has, she'd be willing to thumb her nose at the naysayers and/or those that hero worship Atticus..  IOW, a good sense of humor. :D   I suspect, it could go either way.  I think and hope she still has all her marbles and some of someone elses.  :P

It has been hinted that her sister had been looking after Harper in recent years and helping her with decisions. Her sister has passed away now. I suspect that someone else will now be "getting" some of her "marbles" with the publication of the book. :)

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It has been hinted that her sister had been looking after Harper in recent years and helping her with decisions. Her sister has passed away now. I suspect that someone else will now be "getting" some of her "marbles" with the publication of the book. :)

 

"The lawyer for the author Harper Lee, Tonja B. Carter, received notice on Friday that an investigation by Alabama officials into whether Ms. Lee, 88, and confined to an assisted living facility, was manipulated into publishing a second novel has been closed and no evidence of abuse or neglect had been found."

 

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/04/03/alabama-officials-find-harper-lee-in-control-of-decision-to-publish-second-novel/?smid=tw-share&_r=1

 

 

 

"One of the most enduring criticisms of Mockingbird has been that it is too simplistic – particularly the character of Atticus. In a 2006 essay in the New Yorker, Thomas Mallon described him, with some justification, as “a plaster saint”. So there is an amusing irony that some fans of the book are so outraged at this suggestion of shades to the character. Truly, an author cannot win."

 

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jul/13/critics-harper-lee-go-set-a-watchman-to-kill-a-mockingbird

 

The hatred towards Atticus's character being portrayed as more "human" i.e. a man with faults, is getting a bit frustrating, which is why I've quoted the above paragraph from The Guardian article. Atticus Finch is my all-time literary hero. Having finished reading Go Set a Watchman, my perspective on Atticus hasn't changed. I will always look up to Atticus. What this book has helped me realise is that Atticus had problems of his own. And more than anything, this helped me to connect with him on a much greater scale. Not only was he this perfect, non-judgemental, empathic, almost god-like character, he was also a man.

 

I think this novel is a wonderful opportunity to delve inside a writers mind, observing the cogs as they weave out characters and storylines fresh from the imagination. How often do we get such an insight into an authors mind?

I feel like people are expecting too much from this novel. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my all-time favourite novels - I understand that you don't want to let go of this idealistic world in which a lawyer is near-perfect, condoning his inferiors for being too hypocritical. But I really don't think this new novel takes away from that heroism. What it does is help you to gain a different perspective on Scout's childhood, her adolescent years, and how her family has grown along with the changes in society. It helps you to place her position within history - she appears to me to be a young woman, doing her best to understand the changes that are happening all around her. I almost feel a close connection with Scout, perhaps as I am very close to her in age and am going through the same feelings myself. I'm sure we've all come across that bridge in our lives when the realisation dawns on us that our parents aren't perfect. And slowly we begin to create our own picture of the world around us, building new beliefs based not only upon our parent's lessons, but our own personal experiences. I believe this novel portrays this transformation in a beautiful way.

 

The writing is just as exquisite as it was in the classic. I refuse to believe that this novel takes away from the magic of To Kill A Mockingbird. If anything, it sprinkles hope onto the story - it is now Scout's turn to 'change the world.' She is a young woman in a big wide world, filled with prejudice and hatred, and yet her open mind gives us all hope that the world isn't as horrific we think.

 

I agree with a number of reviews, the plot is a bit haphazard - but then this was a book that was never supposed to be published. I think we should be grateful to be given such a rare insight into the world of Atticus Finch and his daughter. I know many people don't want their all-time favourite classic to be ruined, but personally I found this novel to be a breath of fresh air.

 

For those of you who have read the book, what did you think? :)

Edited by Angury

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Is it our disappointment at Atticus coming down off a pedestal of our own creation? Or our disappointment at Harper Lee coming down off a pedestal? Or our suspicion of conspiracies?  Or our fear of contamination? Or what?

Perhaps there are books that are so perfect they should be set off in isolation, and no other of an author's works read.  Or perhaps there are authors whose public persona is so perfect that their less public personalities should not be exposed to view.

But I think almost anyone who reads much of an author realizes that their total oeuvre will be uneven and, for some, nothing is lost by seeing the person, and their works, and the times in which they were written, all as a whole.

I would suggest, on the contrary that there is much to be gained.  But, to each their own for whatever our different purposes in reading.

After all, we are all people, both the real ones and the fictional ones among us, and life is a wondrous thing in its variety.

I am in the camp that reads everything, and still not enough time to do it.

Edited by Paul

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It seems to me people are building their opinions of what happened behind the book's publication on whether they like the story, ignoring the official investigation that settled the matter. You either like the book or don't like the book, that is all.

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Aw, nicely said, Paul. I can't remember...have you read To Kill A Mockingbird? If so, did you enjoy it, and do you want to read Go Set a Watchman?

 

Angury, I finished reading the book the other day, and I have to say that I completely agree with everything you said. :) Really, I couldn't have said it better myself, and I hope everyone reading this thread carefully reads your review, because everything you've said about the novel is absolutely spot on. :)

 

My perspective of Atticus didn't change either, and my opinion of Scout (or Jean Louise, as she's more commonly called in GSaW) grew and grew. She reminds me a lot of myself in terms of her opinions and ideals. The scenes towards the end had me on the edge of my seat as the tension grew, and then I cried rather a lot.  :blush2:

 

As you said, the writing was exquisite. During the flashback scenes, I actually felt like I was reading TKaM. Those scenes could have easily been removed from the latter and inserted in the former. Lee's such a good storyteller. :)

 

I also agree re the plot, but it didn't detract from my enjoyment. I rated it 10/10 immediately after finishing, although I did dither about giving it a 9. I decided to go with my gut feeling upon immediately finishing the book, when my emotions were still heightened. I went into it with fairly low expectations—I knew it could never be as good as TKaM—but I was blown away by it...especially the last couple of chapters.

 

Lastly, to anyone who might check out the reviews on Goodreads when trying to decide whether to read it, please don't just read the first few 'most popular' reviews (many of which are actually just comments by people saying they're not going to read the book). Try filtering the comments to see some of the higher ratings so you can get a broader understanding of people's feelings. :)

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Also, I wanted to share a quote from the book that resonated with me and made me think of the whole debate about Atticus being 'ruined' for people in this book. It's almost as though Harper Lee foresaw this happening (the parts in square brackets are mine). This is Scout's uncle talking to her about Atticus:

 

“… now you, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father’s. As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings—I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers.”

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Also, I wanted to share a quote from the book that resonated with me and made me think of the whole debate about Atticus being 'ruined' for people in this book. It's almost as though Harper Lee foresaw this happening (the parts in square brackets are mine). This is Scout's uncle talking to her about Atticus:

 

“… now you, Miss, born with your own conscience, somewhere along the line fastened it like a barnacle onto your father’s. As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings—I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us. You were an emotional cripple, leaning on him, getting the answers from him, assuming that your answers would always be his answers.”

Love this! :smile:

 

I will definitely be getting a copy when it comes out in paperback.

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Aw, nicely said, Paul. I can't remember...have you read To Kill A Mockingbird? If so, did you enjoy it, and do you want to read Go Set a Watchman?

 

 

Kylie,

Thanks for your kind comment.

 

No, I passed by Mockingbird when it came out -- not my favorite topic -- but comment on the story has been hard to miss.  (It feels like I have heard about race issues in the US every day of my life, ever since elementary school many years ago, and I am sort of full up to my earlobes on the topic by now.)

 

However, it is on the shelf around here, and we have just picked up Watchman at B&N, so I'm going to be reading both, just to get re-informed and catch up with the crowd.

Sorry to be grouchy, but I think some book hype/discussion gets really overdone (Witness 50 Shades).

 

But have a nice day

It looks hopeful here, early this morning

Thanks

Paul

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Rumor has it that they are negotiating a movie of Watchman that will have Tom Cruise playing the part of Atticus. :o  :giggle2:

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Have now finished reading both Mockingbird and Watchman end-to-end.

In my opinions:

1. Mockingbird is everything that all its admirers say it is.  Excellent, and congratulations to Harper Lee!

2. Watchman is clearly a serious and complete literary work by an established author, even if somewhat uneven and on a less appealing theme. 

    It deserves to be in the author's public canon, and to suppress or trash it would have been a literary crime.

 

As with any other books, one can make up one's own mind whether or not to read them.

I am now glad I have read them both.

Paul

Edited by Paul

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It was a joke. :)

 

You got me good! I believed you. :D Thank goodness you were only joking. (Naughty Muggles :P:giggle:)

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Have now finished reading both Mockingbird and Watchman end-to-end.

In my opinions:

1. Mockingbird is everything that all its admirers say it is.  Excellent, and congratulations to Harper Lee!

2. Watchman is clearly a serious and complete literary work by an established author, even if somewhat uneven and on a less appealing theme. 

    It deserves to be in the author's public canon, and to suppress or trash it would have been a literary crime.

 

As with any other books, one can make up one's own mind whether or not to read them.

I am now glad I have read them both.

Paul

I'm glad you enjoyed both books :). I shall have to re-read To Kill a Mockingbird some day, then think about if I want to read Go Set a Watchman or not.

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