• Go Set a Watchman

  • A Novel
  • By: Harper Lee
  • Narrated by: Reese Witherspoon
  • Length: 6 hrs and 57 mins
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars (16,196 ratings)

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Go Set a Watchman

By: Harper Lee
Narrated by: Reese Witherspoon
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Publisher's Summary

Performed by Reese Witherspoon

Number one New York Times best seller

Go Set a Watchman is such an important book, perhaps the most important novel on race to come out of the white South in decades." (New York Times)

A landmark novel by Harper Lee, set two decades after her beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird.

Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch - “Scout” - returns home to Maycomb, Alabama from New York City to visit her aging father, Atticus. Set against the backdrop of the civil rights tensions and political turmoil that were transforming the South, Jean Louise’s homecoming turns bittersweet when she learns disturbing truths about her close-knit family, the town, and the people dearest to her. 

Memories from her childhood flood back, and her values and assumptions are thrown into doubt. Featuring many of the iconic characters from To Kill a Mockingbird, Go Set a Watchman perfectly captures a young woman, and a world, in painful yet necessary transition out of the illusions of the past - a journey that can only be guided by one’s own conscience. 

Written in the mid-1950s, Go Set a Watchman imparts a fuller, richer understanding and appreciation of the late Harper Lee. Here is an unforgettable novel of wisdom, humanity, passion, humor, and effortless precision - a profoundly affecting work of art that is both wonderfully evocative of another era and relevant to our own times. 

It not only confirms the enduring brilliance of To Kill a Mockingbird, but also serves as its essential companion, adding depth, context, and new meaning to an American classic. 

©2015 Harper Lee (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

Critic Reviews

"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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What listeners say about Go Set a Watchman

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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.

446 people found this helpful

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Rich, Ornate Prose

Harper Lee’s sequel to her classic To Kill A Mockingbird does not disappoint. Scout has transcended the innocence of her childhood and now must face head-on the moral problems that she was only able to see through her father’s eyes in the first novel… To put it bluntly: with Stephanie Myers, E.L. James and all the other dreck dominating sales, this novel comes like a soothing summer breeze on a stifling hot southern night. Read it slowly, and enjoy quality writing again.

159 people found this helpful

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Ignore the reviews, just read the book.

Despite all the controversy surrounding this novel, even negative reviews from my favorite magazine The New Yorker, I choose to decide for myself, and the verdict is I Loved it. My only memory of To Kill a Mocking Bird was from the school days, and the book title was the only thing I remembered. So I dived in without any preexisting expectations.

I can use more words to describe how wonderfully complex and enjoyable and at times tormenting the novel is, but truth is, if you have at anytime in your life witnessed any form of prejudice, and felt uneasy, you will be able to relate with Scout.

Here is my favorite Quote:

“Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.”.

125 people found this helpful

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Awesome

I'm a African American male and I must say this book made me think of things differently. It made me open my eyes to all the different people and different viewpoints of not only the south but the world. We are so quick to group people together that we forget that we're all individuals.

91 people found this helpful

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It could NEVER meet our expectations.

Like to so many others, To Kill a Mockingbird was to me a near perfect book. Nothing, not even a new Harper Lee book that I put everything aside to read in one day, could ever touch its pureness. The old fashioned prose is poetic and perfectly narrated, but the plot is ultimately disappointing, While there's still emotion, fear, a touch of humor, and much love, without being draped in the innocence of youth it's hard to like and relate to these characters. It reminds me of that great friend you had as a child and when you meet them as an adult, you find them rather charmless. The only true saving grace is for those of us who have had to deal with aging parents and their stubborn attitudes. Unfortunately, that's not enough to make this a great book, but if, like me, you feel obliged to read this, lower your expectations and you'll enjoy it much more.

72 people found this helpful

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Another One Bites the Dust


Go Set a Watchman...we've waded through the obstacles of skepticism regarding whether or not Lee wanted this published, the multitude of speculations on the author's intentions and the publisher's machinations -- then debated whether or not we should read this...will it stand up to the highest of expectations. Because, there is no way to unread TKAM, and we WILL make comparisons, no matter how hard we try to evaluate this novel on its own merits. As with y'all...TKAM was/is/will remain a favorite.

"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. So Good-Bye Atticus...Pillar of Morality.

There was a book that we used to read to children where turning the pages one way it was a richly illustrated fairy tale about a dragon that lured kids with his beauty, power and promises into his world. Once captured, he imprisoned and slowly destroyed them and everything they loved. This was a metaphor for drugs, and when you turned the book around and flipped the pages the other way, it was the very real world of drug addiction that the book explained, each page a true life depiction corresponding to the child's version. GSAW reminded me of that book -- the adult side, where with just a slight tilting of the balance, the illusions of childhood, the innocence and hopefulness that believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and Daddy as the hero, eventually give way to reality. GSAW is the flip side--the day you learned mom tucked the quarters under your pillow, the day you learned that comedian that seemed such a moral touchstone was a sexual predator -- the day you discovered that Atticus Finch thought the Ku Klux Klan was merely “a political organization”.

"Where have all the cowboys gone?" Watch out John Wayne....

The writing is at times that same prose that whisks you into the South and lets you languish there a while. I loved those parts and felt Lee's powerful talent. But there where sections more often that felt unpolished; they lacked the development more in line with Mockingbird. The story itself was a bit disorganized and needed somewhere for us to land, to catch up (Jem's dead...so what?). Adding to the jerky quality was the soapbox commentary that passed for conversation, and logic-head games moderated by characters that seemed created for that purpose because of the lack of foundation. Even after I reckoned myself with people not being who I thought they were, there were times, especially with Jean Louise, that I felt like the author wasn't sure either. It had glimmers of Lee's brilliance but not nearly the sincerity. Those are the complaints that I cannot squash knowing this is the work of Harper Lee, and trying to be as unbiased as I can without being schizophrenic. Those are the little glitches absent in her published works before, that have me wondering if Harper Lee truly intended for this to be published, and why it wasn't while her sister was her legal representation and caretaker...but that's just my head speaking out loud.

So, with our innocence smashed, and the shock of such a betrayal, we are left to judge whether or not we are disillusioned or enlightened. Whether or not that was Lee's grand plan we'll never know, and in some ways I'm selfishly saddened to have to watch another pillar crumble and blow away into the dust. But, after the blind assault on what I thought I knew, I found that what Lee had to say here may pack even a more powerful wallop than TKAM -- things I'm still thinking about. Had it been more structurally sound, I think Lee could have had a novel that at least, rubbed shoulders with its predecessor.

63 people found this helpful

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"You who call me Scout are Dead"

"For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth." - Isaiah 21:6

I liked it, but didn't love it. Not for the reasons one might presume. I think it was kinda brilliant to show Atticus as an enlightened, Southern bigot. It is the sequencing of this book that is interesting to me. It is my understanding that this book (antithesis) was actually written prior to 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (thesis), but HL's publishers/agents wanted her to go back and work on the flashback parts. When 'Scout' was younger. Bring us THAT novel dear Harper and "the wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young scout and the fatling together; and a little child's book shall lead them." Well, not exactly, but my point is. This is a more nuanced book on race than 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. TKAMB is told through a child's eyes and let's face it was written for children. It is a book of ideals and idols. This is a book about place, race and family. There are no safe places in a family. There is no room for idols in a Southern Kitchen. So, what? I don't think it is a better book by TKAMB, just a different book, with similar characters. It is the Empire Strikes Back to Star Wars (except in the Movies, the Empire Strikes Back is far superior to Star Wars) complete with its very own 'YOU ARE NOT MY FATHER' scene. But please, dear literature gods, don't give us To Kill a Mockingbird, pt 3. I don't want a synthesis.

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" especially in the Gentile South. So, not a perfect novel. Not one that can even stand fully next to "To Kill a Mockingbird", but those kind of sequels are rare. There is a reason (besides poverty and near-term failure) that Melville didn't write a sequel to 'Moby-Dick'. There are no sequels. We have the touchstones we have and often don't get another. Just like family. Just like fathers.

41 people found this helpful

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Wonderful follow up

Loved that we get to see a more complete Atticus and not just Gregory Peck in a white suit. I liked Atticus 1 more, but this new view seems more realistic for someone in Maycomb in the 50's-60's. Thanks Scout.

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I loved it!

One bit of advice for those of you who are going to read this book. You need to forget To Kill a Mockingbird and realize this is a different book.

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I'm sure there are happy lawyers

Harper Lee was determined not to publish a second novel, and I believe she is being manipulated in her elder, infirm years by people who stand to gain a lot by this trick. If she wrote it, it was not intended to be published, is not even one billionth of what To Kill A Mockingbird is, and destroys much of what that novel accomplished. For many, many reasons, the publication of this is dubious. And wrong.

Atticus is a racist, a klan member, and Scout too is pretty racist. So the man who, in Mockingbird, risked his professional reputation, his life, and his children's lives to stand up for what is right, for fairness, justice, and human dignity has magically transformed to be one of the hate-filled mob he fought against. Aside from that, it is so poorly constructed and poorly written, not just in comparison to the first book, but just assessed on its own. It is hard to believe that the same person wrote this, but if she did, the fact remains that To Kill A Mockingbird, the work she willingly published is her great accomplishment, and she was right to not want to publish this.

And what a surprise! There is talk that yet another mysterious Harper Lee book has been found. With so much to be earned, are you surprised?

Google this, read what the reviewers are saying. Read about the questionable circumstances of this publication before you spend your money and your time ruining the first book in your mind to enrich a lawyer. There are those who are going to gush because it says Harper Lee on the cover. Surely an intellectual person needs only that name. Less gullible folks will think about it. It is hard for me to believe that anyone who liked To Kill A Mockingbird genuinely likes this, feels it is worthwhile. I think it is more likely that the fact it is being published under Lee's name means they will fall in line. After all, it is a literary genius, right? That is what the publishers are counting on.





33 people found this helpful