Go Set a Watchman - Harper Lee

Hardcover, 278 pages, Published July 14th 2015 by Harper

There is a lot to take in and I will do a longer review later but these are my first thoughts on the book.

What happens when all you believe, all you trust is found not be to true? How do you align the memories of the past with the reality of now? This is what confronts Jean-Louise when she returns to Maycomb for a two week break from New York. Each time she returns Jean-Louise notices a change in the town and the people, nothing too major but the changes are unsettling. This time she is aware that the relationships between the townspeople have changed and that the 'negroes' are treated with suspicion and fear. It is almost like a coming of age story but accepting that sometimes the people we consider as Gods have faults and fears of their own that we overlook.

Jean-Louise is still feisty and willing to verbally duel with just about anyone. She finds herself caught between worlds with the boldness of New York and laid back Maycomb causing her to struggle to find where she belongs.
Atticus is there but he has changed, still a man who believes in the letter of the law but seems to have lost his humanity.

For me the difference between To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman is Jean-Louise. In TKAMB Jean-Louise as a child, is naïve and questions what everyone else accepts. In Go Set a Watchman she has experience and though she is still colour blind, she understands what trash, hatred and discrimination are. She can see it for the first time in the people she loves.

There is some trademark Harper Lee humour in the book, some wonderful character descriptions "Alexandra Hancock Finch was imposing from any angle; her behind was no less uncompromising than her front." and scenic descriptions "She walked on past houses with wide front yards in which moved green-thumbed ladies and slow large men."

There are some wonderful sections in the book, Jean-Louise and pregnancy, Jem, Dill and Jean-Louise performing a baptism, Calpurnia and Jean-Louise's meeting and the coffee meeting.

Read this as a standalone, read this as a sequel (as you discover what happens to Jem, Dill and Calpurnia) but read the book with no expectations. It will never be TKAMB but it will be a book that shows how an author came into being, how she was insightful and how she found her voice in TKAMB. Yes you can see snippets and large slabs of TKAMB in this book but they are two different books.

I really did enjoy Go Set a Watchman and I am glad it is available to be read. Why? It gave me a better understanding of Jean-Louise's world and her view on it. Plus she started off as Jean-Louise and became Scout at the end.

How to write your Blockbuster
Fiona McIntosh
Paperback, 192 pages, Published May 27th 2015 by Penguin Books Australia

One thing I enjoy as a reader is a behind the scenes sneak peek of the writing process. I have enjoyed reading many of these books and have found them to be quite insightful into an author’s creative process. 
Fiona McIntosh’s is the latest author to join the growing list of producing a book that tells you how to be a successful author. The difference with McIntosh is that she is not prescribing that there is only one way to become a successful author. She recognises that there are planners and freelancers and that each style has merit. What McIntosh takes aim at is writing discipline and some handy hints such as the word count equation that will get you writing novels. 
Even when discussing discipline McIntosh is not prescriptive but she does emphasis the need to have a regular routine and goals. Let’s face it is your job and you need to turn up to the desk and crunch out the work. If you need to plan out the entire book paragraph by paragraph, the do it but if you want to just to sit at the keyboard and start typing do that. What McIntosh stress is that you need to do it at the same time and the same number of days per week. 
I enjoyed McIntosh’s chats about her own writing evolution, the problems and highlights. It was an insightful read.
For more information on Fiona McIntosh check out her website