If you know me, or have followed the blog from the beginning, you know that Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is my favorite book ever. So when news of the discovery of the Go Set A Watchman manuscript broke, it simultaneously excited and terrified me.
Of course, I promptly pre-ordered a copy when the publication was announced. I stayed away from any reviews, not wanting anything to color my own reading of it. I read it with no small degree of trepidation. I didn’t want it to take away from To Kill A Mockingbird, but the risk of it doing just that was great.
I’ve still not read any other reviews of the book, but I have talked about it with some friends who have also read it, and who read reviews, and I understand they are decidedly mixed. I’m weighing in on the side of those who liked the book.
I made myself separate Watchman from TKAM and read it as a separate work, much like reading JK Rowling’s The Casual Vacancy and reminding myself it was in no way Harry Potter. The first thing I realized is that Lee’s writing style, her languid southern language, was very much a part of the book, and I was so grateful for that. It’s Lee’s voice that most appealed to me in TKAM and what I enjoy in each re-read of the book.
The second thing I realized is that I had the wrong view of Atticus in TKAM. It wasn’t that Atticus was ahead of his time with race relations in the rural south, but that he had a sense of justice, and solidly defended Tom Robinson because it was the right thing to do. He was in no way doing it to make a statement against a biased justice system.
Scout as an adult is different than I expected, and I had an unexpected better understanding of Aunt Alexandra. Without spoiling, I felt Scout’s disillusionment at the climax of the story was a bit overwrought and overdone. Overall, though, I enjoyed the story and am glad I read it.
I’ve not yet re-read TKAM since finishing Watchman, and I do wonder how or if it will be different for me, having read Watchman.
The last thing I will say is that I hope that Ms. Lee has been treated fairly in this whole process. She’s given us a wonderful legacy with her books, and I would hate to think anyone has taken advantage of that.
I’ve long been fascinated with wise women and the Salem Witch Trials, so Tom was right, this was a book that I enjoyed.
Our heroine, Connie Goodwin, is a PhD candidate determined to complete her doctorate in history. At the behest of her mother, she agrees to sort out her grandmother’s house, readying it for sale. Connie finds a mysterious book by a Deliverance Dane that aids not only in her research, but in unlocking secrets in Connie’s own life.
Set in 1991, but interspersed with snippets of tales from the 1690s and the Salem Witch Trials, the story of Deliverance Dane and her legacy is revealed.
While not a page turner for me, Physick did hold my interest, especially trying to figure out the machinations of Connie’s dissertation sponsor. At times, I found it challenging to decipher the 1690s English, but it did add an authenticity to the flashbacks in the story.
You know there is more to this story as you read it, but Howe reveals them in a way that I didn’t completely see coming, always a nice change of pace. And I love the setting. I could easily picture both old and new Salem as the story unfolded.
The funny thing is, as I was cleaning out bookshelves, I discovered that I had long owned a copy of Physick which for some reason I never read. So Tom was spot on that the book would appeal to me- something made me buy it previously.
Another non-book post. Sorry. The book reviews are coming back soon, I promise. But I want to talk about 9/11. I’ve never been able to talk about it easily, without it taking me to a very dark place, and I was thousands of miles from it.
There will be plenty of “I remember where I was when I heard” discussions today, and I could tell you mine. I can see the room, remember it so clearly. But that is not the part of 9/11 I want to talk about.
I want to talk about the part of 9/11 that haunts me, that I cannot think about too much, that can bring me to tears if I think on it for more than a few minutes. Flight 93. Perhaps it’s because a large part of my professional life has involved airplanes, but it has always been so easy for me to imagine the humanity on that plane.
The people who had heard what had happened in New York, and knew what was about to happen on their plane. To know that there would be no happy ending but deciding to do what they could anyway. Making last minute calls to tell people what was going on. To say goodbye to loved ones. To be on the other end of the phone and suddenly hear only silence and know what that meant. To hope beyond hope that the ending could be anything else, but knowing it couldn’t be.
That kind of courage. That brings me to my knees and makes me hope that if I am ever faced with any similar sort of situation, I’m brave enough to do what the passengers and crew of Flight 93 did. To never be on the other end of that phone call, feeling so helpless but knowing that perhaps you’re giving someone a bit of comfort in their last moments.
We are far from a perfect country, but we rose to our best on that day. Hopefully the day will come when we honor the victims and survivors of 9/11 of being that best every day.
This post is about Cecil the Lion and my thoughts around this occurrence. The circumstances around Cecil’s death have made me sad and sick to my stomach. Stop reading now if you don’t want to know more. I’m recounting the details as I have read them, and they are disgusting to say the least.
Cecil the Lion. By all accounts a gentle giant doing his Lion thing in Zimbabwe. A tourist attraction bringing in far more than the $55,00 it is speculated that an American paid for the chance to hunt Cecil. Although hunt isn’t exactly what I would call it.
Baited. Lured from his preserve.
Shot with a Crossbow. At night.
Tracked for 40 hours as he weakened.
His corpse left to rot.
All for “sport”. Illegal. His six male cubs will likely now also face death as an adult male seeks dominance of the Pride.
This “big game hunter” is allegedly a dentist form Minnesota who has paid for this “privilege” before. I don’t understand it. Please, someone explain it to me.
I have many family members who hunt, and who process their game. Although I don’t hunt, I can understand this. I cannot fathom situations like Cecil. And countless other animals poached for sport. It makes me sick and sad, and if someone can explain the appeal to me, I’d at least listen. But, to me, it seems a pretty cowardly way to prove your prowess.
Dating has changed a lot in those twenty-three years. Online dating alone is a whole different animal. Jed is trying to not repeat the mistakes of his marriage. His teenaged daughters freely express their thoughts about Jed and his dating. And in his efforts to find the “right” woman, Jed dates every type of woman- an intellectual elitist from Moscow; a barely literate Chinese massage parlor queen, among others.
The challenge for Jed, as he’s looking for his soulmate, is Jed. He’s his own worst enemy,at least at the beginning. His drinking is out of control; he’s truly in a downward spiral. I’ll admit, I didn’t much care for this Jed. Thankfully, he catches himself and begins AA, and the “real” Jed begins to emerge.
What starts out as merely a dating memoir begins to delve into what makes us the people we are, the choices we make in relationships. What we look for into relationships, and what we bring to relationships. Against the backdrop of dating, Jed is able to explore his upbringing and begins to understand what has shaped him into the person he is.
I was a bit skeptical when I began reading Stuck in the Passing Lane. I had a different expectation of it when I started reading it. What I got was something deeper than I originally expected, and I ended up rooting for Jed to find happiness.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.