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Join us here in The Bistro for a discussion on the entire Gamache series. Feel free to ask or answer any questions about any of the books or the series as a whole.

Discussion on “The Bistro”

I have not read any articles that address the attitude of the Finches toward Henry. They cared for him and Atticus must have loved him. However, he was not seen as a possible husband for Scout. Were they wrong to feel that his family background must be considered when the question of Scout marrying him was raised. He explained that she and he could behave in the same way but people would judge them differently. Should family background be considered when marrying ? Is it true that you marry the individual and not the family ? What if everyone will live close to each other in the town both grew up in or the couple will live far away ? Is that a factor ? Do young adults need to listen to the consul of family in those matters ? Does love truly overcome all obstacles ?

Big questions Barbara but not an uncommon situation. Crossing perceived class boundaries is difficult in many cultures…English even now, Indian with the extensive caste system etc. Perhaps the biggest of your questions…does love conquer all? I don’t know. We don’t usually live in a bubble. If the family remains close by and disapproving that would be very difficult. If the couple moves away then family support, such as it might be is lost and also the chance for reconciliation.

I think that love can conquer all, IF the people are strong and know they are right to love each other. But none of us lives in a vacuum. We do, indeed, marry the whole family (at least, usually. unless a rift occurs because of the marriage that means that that influence is taken away). How strong is love, after years of recriminations and accusations? Can it possibly live through such hardships? I don’t know the answer for sure, but I think that people would have to really KNOW in their heart of hearts that they are right to love this person and to commit to making sure that they keep this uppermost in their minds.

I just lost a post. My battery died. GSAW was excellent. The dialogue between Jean Louise and Atticus, she and Henry and she and Uncle Jack had me holding my breathe, reading as fast as possible and crying. I had to reread each several times after I finished the book. My heart broke when she went to visit Calpurnia.
I can hardly believe GSAW was written before TKAM. It was prophetic. Shivers ran over me as I read some passages. I think it is a book that will be enjoyed by many.

So glad you enjoyed GSAW Barbara. I am interested in what you think about the portrayal of the characters. Did you feel Atticus was still a character of repute? I did. I think we just saw how much harder it was to come to terms with the changes in the world they knew.

I wonder how the morality of 2015 will be judged in the future. As the world changes do we hold history to the same standards as we hold for ourselves? Is it fair to do that?

One of the first articles I read about GSAW was titled “Atticus was a Racist”. That caused me to not want to read the book. I feel that Atticus was a person of repute. He knew the danger that some people would take advantage of the African American population and use them to their own advantage. It wasn’t their fault that they were ill-prepared for full participation in governing. I wish I knew how every person, no matter what race, could be an equal participant in citizenship. The wrongs of the past were so grave they seem insurmountable. But solve them we must.
I am reading more and more about the Confederate Flag issue. Those who support it are very vocal as I knew they would be. Others are demanding all monuments related to the War be destroyed.
I am not offended by the efforts to remove the flag from public places. It should never have been there in the first place. It does no honor to anyone.
I doubt that Atticus, Henry and Uncle Jack would be surprised by the controversy.

Holding history to our standards is a question that has long worried me. Not only the history of the US, but world history. I have been told that while no one should approve of the wrongs done in the past, it is unfair to apply our standards to history. I seem to be unable to not apply our standards. How could people not see the wrong. I think people in the future will judge us very harshly and maybe they should. I hope that they will be advanced enough to realize there were people of goodwill who wanted a fairer and more just world as well as those who did not.

It’s hard isn’t it Barbara. Civilization changes and what was right seems wrong and was wrong seems right through the lens of our time. Maybe the reason people don’t see the wrong in their time is because it isn’t wrong. If you live in a world where purple people are revered and polka dot people are victimized and that is all you have ever known then how do you learn it is wrong? And even if you start to believe that the way the polka dot people are being treated is wrong, what do you do? No one you know believes what you believe. It takes a wave of change,a momentum among many to drive change. Someone has to stand up and risk persecution. Nelson Mandela spent years in jail. Martin Luther King was assassinated.

Thinking for ourselves, making our own minds up in the face of dissent is the difficult thing. Going along with the crowd or what our mentors believe is easier. Because surely smarter people than us they must be. We doubt ourselves, we doubt our beliefs. But even when we do believe something different, it is quite another thing to stand up for that belief. And more often that not the people we have to stand up to are those who taught us, those who love us, those who we love.

The message of GSAW for me, is that we need to go through that process and find our own arguments and strengths. Atticus’s flaws had to be exposed for Scout to become and in her becoming we see Atticus and Jack are proud of who she turns out to be. Atticus’s strength is helping her to “be” even when he cannot.

This is one of those questions that devils me, too, Barbara. When we look back, we wonder how people could have let all the Jewish people in Europe suffer and be murdered? Yet, how is it that we are now witnessing so many black people suffering and being murdered (albeit, one at a time, for the most part) at the hands of our police? Is it so different? All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. Are we doing nothing? I FEEL like people are demanding change, and a few in authority are stepping up, but it sure doesn’t seem to be spreading. I wonder, now, how an officer can continue and do the things that have been “accepted” practice now, when the harsh glare of the cell phone camera is upon them all the time? How is it that a routine traffic stop for not signaling a lane change lands a person in jail, makes her feel so bad about herself that she decided to end it all, and she is left alone to do it? I think we WILL be judged harshly, and rightly so…

Julie, just read about your little accident. So very glad you and all are OK. Your sadness speaks to me of your compassion. I admire your concern and your courage. Me? I do the turtle really well.

I did read the article you linked. Fascinating at first read. But when I thought about it and re-read it several times I began to wonder why the author of the article calls only writers who allow another to ‘edit’ their work a real pro, a real artist. Really? Julie, you love the work of Jane Austin. Do you know, or have you heard rumors of Austin having had an editor? Are there ‘editors’ for other types of artists? Not to my knowledge. They may apprentice with a master or let’s use Clara and Peter as examples of artists who studied their art. Remember how angry Gamache felt when Clara told him of Peter’s derisive comments towards The Three Graces? That Clara needed to work on perspective… Did Gamache, or any of us, think Clara’s ego got in the way of her own creations?

Once on their own, a painter paints, a sculptor chips away. People like their work or not and some are better than others, but there isn’t an entire industry of editors for every art form. Why do only writers need to ‘set aside their ego’? Personally, I think a lot of writers need to set aside their self doubt. What is so honorable in allowing someone else to shape one’s vision, as the author of the article states.

Those were my impressions after reading the article. My feelings on the entire thing mirror yours and Barbara’s. I don’t intend to read Watchman and I hope Ms Lee’s feelings aren’t hurt. Personally, I would feel humiliated if someone got a hold of my rough drafts and published them. To anyone else, they would appear to be chicken scratches of an uneducated person. To me, they are my shorthand to capture the essence of a feeling, a character… Certainly ‘not ready for prime time’.
And, although you graced me the the title of author, I have not earned it.

I’m going to press post comment without going back to ‘edit’ or this may never appear. Yesterday, I tried many times without success…

Millie – that’s a fascinating thing to think of. You are right – Jane Austen never had anyone to “edit” her work until after her death. The last two of her regular books were published after her death (Emma and Persuasion), and she left several unfinished manuscripts, some of which, people have added to and published later. I think her brother edited Persuasion because it wasn’t quite ready – I know he changed the name of the book, and that Jane had written two different endings and he chose which to use. Later editions have included both, so the reader can make up their mind, but I think he chose right. Otherwise, I think the books appeared just as she wrote them – her singular vision.

And yet, I think that working with a thoughtful editor CAN make a book better, and from all accounts, it certainly did in the case of TKAMB. I almost imagine that, if the first version were published as is, it would have been a “good read”, but that the Pulitzer Prize would have gone to someone else… Then again, maybe if Ms Lee had been allowed to get into the water of admiration for her writing a little more gradually, instead of being thrown into the deep end with an immediate Pulitzer and thousands of fans, she’d have continued writing… Who’s to say what the best thing would be.

But I do think that, given what DID happen, like you, I’d be upset to have everyone reading and discussing my early draft of something…

As to whether or not an artist can be a true professional unless they are “guided by an editor”, of course, that’s poppycock – I’m only sorry I didn’t see that in the article myself. If that were true, it would only work if editors didn’t work for the people who stand to make the most money from publication… they’d have to be independent, which they’re not. It’s nice to think that the 50’s were a gentler, kinder time when editors had all the time in the world, and the true calling of helping an author to realize their full potential, but it smacks a little of self-serving rhetoric, doesn’t it?

Good catch – I really hadn’t noticed it at all…

Julie, I’ve been following the rise of an independently published author (Kindle) and how, when his sales were astronomic, he was courted by the big publishing companies. He said no thank you until he struck a deal with one where he kept the digital rights and the publishing company had paper rights. His blog and Facebook posts have been quite educational. Hugh Howey is the author. He writes mostly post-apocalyptic stories, which aren’t my cup of tea, but his writing is wonderful.

Seems the 50’s were a time when publishing houses had editors to really help an emerging author. Those times are rare now. Look at what gets published… big names with a ready audience. There are fewer and fewer ‘debut’ books published. Having that type of in-house editor is no longer cost effective therefore many editors have indeed gone independent.

Really interesting perspective Millie. I had never thought that it is only writers that have editors. Maybe musicians have producers that flavour their work but it is different in that music is often reinterpreted. Wow, lots to think about. I guess most artists self edit other than published authors. Clara is a good example of someone who might have been destroyed by an “editor”. I was thinking about the Salon des Refusés (hope I got that right?!). I am thinking about the good and the harm that can come from critique.

TKAM is a great book. GSAW is also a good book. Maybe not in the same way as TKAM but it isn’t the same book and Harper Lee obviously learned a lot, either on her own or through working with the editor, in between writing the two. But I am glad to read both. I enjoyed both. They both have something to say and the message is actually quite different.

I don’t know exactly how we came to be reading GSAW but I am not entirely sure Harper didn’t want it read. She did send it for publication initially. I think she didn’t want the rest of what publication brought, the publicity,the intrusion etc. Maybe she feels safe and protected enough where she is to let it go. I hope so.

Hi, All. I just wanted to say I hope everyone will express their feeling and opinions on GSAW or any other topic. Please don’t be concerned how it will affect me. Nothing will change in my feelings for the Bistro and all. Saying that was probably not necessary but important to me.
Good thoughts to all.

It’s always good to say what is important to you. Thanks Barbara but I hope you are not worried that we are judging the South. I think we all understand and appreciate that there is good and bad everywhere. I can’t wait to experience Southern hospitality! And food!

l have read about 1/3 of GSAW plus the last 10 or so pages. It will take a while to digest and formulate my thoughts on the ideas presented.
I love the fact that all races can meet together, eat together, worship together, live where they wish and marry whom they wish today.
I have only lived in the South and was educated here. I only know how the rest of America lives from the media, books and people who have lived elsewhere. I know from these sources that the rest of the USA and elsewhere is not inhabited by people who are perfect examples of humanity. Yes, that does sound defensive but is intended as only a statement of fact.
As to the book itself, a good bit of editing would improve it. I was tempted to reach for a pencil and start notes in margins and strike out or reword parts.
One of the stressors I was dealing with is reconciled. A member of my group of close friends from Augusta College and UGA had prostate cancer surgery late yesterday. All the signs and the Dr. indicated Stage IV cancer. My husband, a 19 year prostate cancer survivor, has been extremely worried. He usually has no emotion or obvious concern about anything. The cancer was contained, no spreading. He will be fine and is going home today. Robotic surgery is wonderful.

Barbara – I’m so glad that the surgery went well, and you and your husband can breathe a sigh of relief! Worrying about others, I think, is worse than worrying about yourself – you have no control whatsoever – just the worry…

I was intrigued to see that you read the firs third and the last 10 pages? Making sure it ends okay? My ex-mother-in-law used to always read the last page first of every book. She said it was because she’d once read a mystery, got really engrossed in it, and just at the end, when the detective was about to reveal whodunnit, the last page was missing! But I say she could check to make sure it’s there without reading it, so I think she was making sure she liked the ending before she started….

Millie – love that you did so much for the birthdays – how fun. You’re right – your inner creative child had a field-day and how nice to have her back with you! 😀 I also like that you have now organized all your birthday things, hee hee. I wish I were as disciplined – to use something and then organize where it goes back to… I’m a “throw it anywhere and I’ll get to it later” kind of girl.

Anna – thanks for the link – I’m off to read now…

Barbara – I think that there are some stereotypes that are very unfair when it comes to the south. The most vocal people don’t usually represent the majority, so I don’t believe for a second that every southerner thinks that taking down the confederate flag is trying to take away their history. The grace shown by all the citizens of Charleston after the horrible shooting last month shows that the very great majority of southerners are good people, just like everywhere else, and that, just like everywhere else, they have their share of bigots and sinners. No worries – when I think of The South, I think southern charm, southern belles, and southern hospitality. I also think of fried chicken, but that’s just me, hahahaha.

Oh, yes! I still remember the first time I tasted sweet iced tea… In fact, I’m still trying to erase that memory, hahaha. I don’t think it occurred to me that you could GET that much sugar into a glass of iced tea.

I read the article last week and found it very interesting. I have doubts as to the integrity of all concerned. Regardless of what Harper Lee knows or if she wanted GSAW published, I don’t think the publication will cause her any emotional pain. At least I hope not.

Barbara, Thank you for the hug and for your gift of ‘perspective’. When I first read you were glad good things were happening “for” me, my knee-jerk reaction was to think, “Not really for me. I was doing things for others.” But as I thought about it, I realized how right you were! Last week a neighbor turned 95 and my son’s friend turned 34. Neither have any living relatives and I care for both very much. By doing floral and party horns and such for each place setting for the surprise luncheon for my neighbor and agreeing to my son’s request to have us host dinner and cake for his friend, I did indeed do a lot for myself. I pushed myself to let my creative inner child out to play. She had been off in a corner, silently, patiently waiting for all the grieving of dear family members lost in the last few years to ease.

I probably shouldn’t have gone up and down a step stool quite so much, hanging balloons and streamers at home for my ‘adopted son’ because I sure felt it a few days later, but it felt so good to see the joy in his face. Plus the “Thanks, mom,” from my son was priceless. As a bonus, all my birthday party things are now neatly organized and put away.

And before I forget, I’m really looking forward to participating in the discussion of TNOTB. Take care, Barbara.

Millie, you are amazing. How thoughtful to do so much for two Birthdays. You remind me of when Birthdays were almost like celebrating Christmas in my family. Decorations, dinners, gifts and especially designed cakes.
You are so right, when doing for others, we do for ourselves.
I thought you had been writing or researching your book or involved in your volunteer editing.
Looking forward to TNOTB, too.

Could have sworn I wrote a post Julie thanking you for the link and the thoughts about the early version of Armand. If it pops up I apologise. I was going to say I agreed with the author of the article and I was intrigued about the evolution of Armand. Lots to think about.

I just love excerpt days! And I love reading your thoughts about the excerpts because you make me smile and you make me think. I just assumed the professor was filled with admiration and pleasure, but you are right, Anna, it doesn’t say. I tend to jump to conclusions so I’m glad to have other points of view to make me go back and look again. I like the professor’s name although I’m not going to try to find it right now after losing my post yesterday! It doesn’t sound especially French or English which might be interesting. And, he seemed to know Ruth and Clara’s names, but not to know the town…

My mom responded well to the Physical Therapist coming to her too, Anna. I wish he could have come longer. They are often full of good ideas and we all like to have some extra encouragement and appreciation for our efforts. I hope your dad continues to improve and feel stimulated by the visits.

Best thoughts to you, Julie, after your scare. Something like that can be a real reminder and it’s been on my mind since you told us about it. It’s easy to get overly comfortable about driving. And, my first choice after an awful experience like that is definitely to go into turtle mode!

Barbara, glad you’re feeling better. Supportive and calm thoughts are coming your way from all different directions. Just reach out and pull them close. You made me laugh when you said, “Cat yelling in background.” We have two who do a good job making their opinions known!

Rosenblatt means “rose leaf” in German. Fairly common family name. I can’t wait to find out what is going on.

Just wanted to pop in and say hello. Like Catheryn, my focus has been elsewhere – all good things – so I’ve fallen way behind on the topics explored. That doesn’t mean I’ve neglected my positive thoughts for you.

I read a new excerpt from TNOTB today. Loved it. A new character is introduced. He looks at his surroundings, who he notices and asks, “What is this place?” I smiled and automatically thought, The Bistro! Those two words fill me with joy and comfort.
Barbara, glad you found comfort here recently. Hugs to all.

I just read that excerpt too Millie. Who is this Professor I wondered? Did he view the Bistro with delight of disdain? It was not obvious from the paragraph.

Sitting in the sunshine here. Hope everyone has a patch of warmth and delight in their day today. Remember to breathe Julie…everyone survived and you will be ok. You too Barbara!

Thank you, Anna – and everyone, for such good thoughts about me and my little problems. You are right – everyone is fine, I have insurance which will cover the other car’s repair as well as my own, and if my premiums go up, maybe that will help me to remember to pay attention! I’m going in to see how much the repairs to my car will cost today – and am hoping that they’re going to say they have to repaint the whole car, because I’d love to change the color, hahaha. I find that color is the most important thing to me! (not really – safety is, but a nice, red car would be very nice!).

Hi, Millie! Great to hear from you. So glad good things are happening for you. I hope you will join in the discussion of TNOTB next month. Your insights are good.
A new character! Wonder how he fits in.
Hugs back to you.

I haven’t read the excerpt yet – this is the first place I go to every morning, to start my day off right, so now I know I will have fun if there’s a new excerpt! And a new character! 😀

Anna,As always thank you f or your concern and caring. How are your parents? I hope you are remembering to take time for yourself.
There is the fear of how GSAW will impact on my feelings toward Mockingbird. I can hear Atticus’s voice (Gregory Peck) in the movie. I do look forward to the differences in the writing and learning what went from it into Mockingbird.
Your observation that good people can have rigid thoughts is certainly true. I seem to forget that at times.
Cat yelling in background. Off for nail clipping.

Hi Barbara. Mum is ok and dad is trundling along. He is exercising, in his chair, to impress the physio who comes tomorrow. Having someone come to the house is an effective way to stimulate his enthusiasm for his exercise program. It is helping though.

I see over a million copies of GSAW have sold in North America. I wonder how many people even worried over reading it because of the impact it might have on TKAM? Are we unusual in that regard or do you think most people considered it? How would we respond if it was an early work of Louise’s? Maybe a draft of Still Life. Would it change how we feel about the novels? Or would we read it thinking, wow so much changed between the draft and the final but the bones were there and the process is interesting?

It might be different if Armand was portrayed less favorably in the draft form. I would be interested once you read GSAW Barbara if you can see how the Atticus of both novels can be resolved into a singular being. I Have noticed in some elder people that vies become more rigid rather than less rigid as they get older. I have seen the same in myself at times much to my horror. Maybe the 72 y.o Atticus was a voice for those folks….not bad people just raised in a different time with different social mores. In his younger years he had the energy to try to see past the social conditioning but as he aged perhaps he was tired and less able to do so? Although the biggest message in the book is that we can think for ourselves and should at any age. That we should use all the tools and information at our disposal to inform our opinions and not be tied to wha others think no matter how much we revere them. I think it is a positive message.

Interesting thoughts about Armand, Anna. A few weeks ago, I was looking around at a Louise Penny page on Youtube (I think it was), and found an interview with Louise that I listened to – I have to pick and choose with videos, because my speakers are so poor that on many videos, even on the loudest setting, I can’t hear them… ANYWAY… she was saying that in her first draft, Armand was very different, and she found she didn’t like him very much. She remembered Agatha Christie growing to loathe Poirot, and didn’t want that to happen, so she rewrote him. In the beginning, it wasn’t going to be Armand who was the main character, even – it was going to be Peter and Clara, solving crimes together… Of course, then, Three Pines would have to be a lot like Cabot Cove, hahaha. She said that Armand was younger, in a bad marriage, arrogant, and with lots of problems. (Sounds like Jean Guy!) I wonder how we’d like to read a version of Still Life like that? I don’t think I’d mind at all, because I do think it’s very interesting to see the early versions of things, and how they changed and became what they are now. Truly, my only problem with reading GSAW is that I’m not convinced that Harper Lee would want me to. (And you just KNOW she’s so interested in what I read, hahaha)

Sorry Cathryne. Just saw your post. Interesting comment about grief with the novel. I felt a bit like that as I hovered wondering whether to read Watchman, would I ruin my experience with Mockingbird. I can’t speak for how anyone else would feel but I actually think it enhances my opinion. Mockingbird is a much better book but you can see the improvement, the changes as Harper Lee must have moved from one to the other. I appreciate the opportunity to explore her writing process with a glimpse at how her writing developed. But the tenor is there. The insight into how very difficult the process of societal change is, how it affects everyone. Is it like giving birth? A long period of anticipation, a shorter period of pain and dramatic effort and then the world is suddenly different in every way. But it is just the start. The real process just beginning and takes a lifetime to show its true potential.

Watchman just opened my eyes to how good people can have rigid thoughts. It can take all of us time to change.

Barbara – I hope things are a little better for you now. When life just seems overwhelming to me, I have a tendency to go under the covers and not poke my head out til it’s over. I think I have been doing that (at least emotionally) since the other day – I was in a little accident – nobody hurt, thank goodness, but it was totally my fault and due to just plain carelessness. It really spooked me, not because of what happened, but what might have happened. A perfectly lovely young woman was sitting in her car with her very young son (looked to be about 3 to me) and her frail-looking grandmother, when I came along and side-swiped them. If circumstances had been a little different, I could have really hurt them, and just the thought of that fills me with sadness. I am so grateful that nothing bad happened to them, but also a wake-up call to me to how much I drive (and do so many other things) without giving them all the thought and care they need…. Feeling better now, but it really did shake me up a bit.

Oh dear Julie. I am so pleased that everyone is ok, physically at least. I can still think of a near accident I almost had and it sends absolute chills down my spine. And that was an almost! It only takes a moment of distraction doesn’t it. Take a deep breath and we will all be grateful it wasn’t as bad as could have been. Take solace in knowing it happens to all of us.

How are you Barbara. I know about wanting to be under the covers like Julie but the true measure is that you come out and face the world again. Actually there is nothing wrong with a short retreat to catch your breath and regain your equilibrium. You are strong Barbara and you will be ok but we are all here thinking of you and sending love and support to help you through the tough moments. I know it’s a virtual hug but it’s a real hug.

Oh, Dear Julie. Your experience must have been very disturbing. I’m so glad no one was hurt. About two years ago, I hit a parked truck. It was my fault, of course, but it had an extended bed (I think it is called) which made it longer than the other vehicles. I misjudged how far it was in my lane. I was afraid to drive for months.
I have a better grasp on things now than last week due largely to you wonderful friends here at the Bistro. Hope things are back to normal for you, Julie.

I LOST MY POST! I’ll try again.
I have been reading the posts with great interest, but haven’t found time or focus to join in. I’ll have to wait for another day now. But, Barbara, I just wanted to let you know that I have been thinking about you and sending good wishes. You were so smart to go to the Bistro and reread previous words of support and caring. The sincerity in those words is still evident, I think. Also, hooray for your sister for giving you GSAW. I bet it was fun for her, too.

I have been reading reviews of Go Set A Watchman, listening to interviews of friends and relatives of Harper Lee, and thinking long thoughts about the book, which I have not read yet, through the week. Do we go through the stages of grief with something like this? I have forgotten all of them possibly, but I think denial, anger, and acceptance are involved. I think there’s been a lot of that going around, including in my mind. Your comments have been very helpful and insightful. I would like to be more specific but it will have to be another day.

I must take a moment to say how happy I have been to read each new, wonderful review of TNOTB. Lucky us to have it to look forward to. And a thrill for Louise after her hard work!

Cathryne, Thanks for caring. My sister did enjoy getting the book for me. She ordered the book on line rather than go to the Mall to Barnes & Nobel. She didn’t want to dress and drive there. All part of her withdrawal since her husband’s death 3 1/2 years ago.
I too have read the reviews and interviews on GSAW. Your thoughts on grief and GSAW match mine. After reading the bit from the book on line, I’m very interested in the Aunt.

Through reading all the recent posts the only thing I could think was I hope you are ok Barbara. Sorry to hear you had a meltdown although I can totally understand it. Had a few of those in my life. I am glad you find support in The Bistro, that is very important. The care and support here is very real and genuine even though we have all never met.

I agree that Watchman could benefit from editing but it is still an interesting piece. I am guessing that when Scout was growing up Racism was too much just a part of the world for her to see it, it was just how things were. Maybe it was only as it was being called out as not normal that the turmoil began and it became visible to many. It is like all kinds of hidden discrimination, be it to women, racial groups or on the basis of sexuality. Until the discrimination itself becomes discussed and visible it doesn’t exist for many people.

There is also a lot of explanation in the Watchman about the family protecting the children from seeing racism around them. They grew up in a bubble as it were. Watchman is about the bubble bursting for Scout.

My sister ordered Go Set A Watchman as a gift for me! She said I would have to wait too long tyo get a copy from the library and that LP’s NOTB would be out before then. She knew I would be wanting to read both. She doesn’t read but is appreciative of the role books have always played in my life. She says when she thinks of us as children together, she pictures me holding a book. Will post as soon as it comes and I have read enough to form an opinion.

Yippee – what a thoughtful sister! I’m sure it would have been so hard for you to wait that long! So looking forward to hearing what you think.

It’s snowing here…very rare here but there is snow all the way to Queensland which is like it snowing in Florida!

Oh my – it will look like a Christmas card! 😀 It must seem odd to you that most of the regular symbols of Christmas are winter scenes… I know it would seem odd to me to have the middle of summer be Christmas!

We have Christmas in July parties because we are so familiar with Christmas being a winter celebration in the Northern hemisphere. They had one a few days before the snow at mum’s nursing home, much to the confusion of many residents! We still have snow on the ground this morning which is extremely unusual in our part of the world. I have seen sleet and even snow falling here but not settling on the ground.

Sounds like snow is as much a treat for you as for me. It seldom stays on the ground for more than a few hours. We treasure it. I have a memory of walking in the snow in the light of a full moon many decades ago. So serene.
Sleet is dreaded because the many old large trees here can not support ice and when they fall all utility lines go down with them. I shared the disaster of a few years ago.
Saw this AM that there was snow in Hawaii yesterday.
Thanks for your take on Go Set A Watchman. I’m on the list at the library. Will probably be two or more months before I get it.
I just have to share something I overheard while we were eating lunch out yesterday. I just can’t resist the little imp sitting on my shoulder. One woman told another that she thought Truman Capote, who lived next door to Harper when they were children, really wrote To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman as a gift. She wanted to be a published author but wasn’t talented so he did it for her. That is why

Egads. It posted on its own or maybe the imp did. To pick up mid sentence…she did not like to give interviews. Hubby told me not to tell anyone. OOPS. Guess I did anyway.
Visited The Bistro the other night and reread some old posts. I had a severe meltdown that afternoon. Even frightened myself. I have a Dr.’s appt. in a couple of weeks and will discuss changing meds. I think it was due to an unusual assortment of stressors. Thanks to all who comforted me with words written earlier. They still offered their comfort and support.
Peace to all and have a good weekend.

How interesting. I’ve never heard that, before, but from everything I know about Truman Capote, his ego wouldn’t allow him to give his work to anyone without credit, hahaha. I think that Harper Lee’s talent was mighty, and that, had she continued to write, she’d have a whole raft of books to her name. But her sense of privacy was so strong, and was taken away so suddenly by the glare of publicity over Mockingbird, that her sensibilities wouldn’t allow her to continue to write.

I read a very critical review last night – one that basically says that the book is a mess, and was very clearly an early draft of Mockingbird. That you can almost hear her editor telling her – go back to those flashbacks, and tell the story from the viewpoint of Scout as a child. THAT’s where the book is! He also said that that kind of nurturing editor doesn’t even exist anymore, because it’s all so much greed – rush a book to publication….

It was a very thoughtful review, though it was in Entertainment Weekly, which is hardly a literary magazine. It’s the only negative review I’ve read – the rest have been glowing. I thought it was interesting, though. He did say that the racism shown in Go Set a Watchman was a much more honest representation of the prevailing feeling in the south than what’s shown in Mockingbird, but, of course, we see everything in Mockingbird through the eyes of a bright, and pure, 6-year-old.

I’m so interested in your views, Anna, and will be interested if Barbara reads it, too, as I know she will know how true to the South it really is. I do believe that Harper Lee’s grocery lists would be more interesting than a lot of novels I’ve read – so it’s really only in solidarity with Harper Lee’s younger self that I don’t want to read the book, not because I don’t think it will be good.

When you’re younger, you’re full of fire and passion – things you believe, you believe with all your heart, and when she said, so emphatically, that she would never publish a book again, it was with that passion, I think. Even if she has had a change of heart, I think it’s because she’s been somehow persuaded away from her core beliefs – and maybe she just got worn down… Why keep fighting, when probably, as soon as she dies, the lawyer and publisher will be able to go ahead and “find” this manuscript yet again, and publish it. I can see that train of thought leaving the station… at any rate….

Glad you enjoyed it Anna – if ever there was a thoughtful reader, it’s you, so I know what you are saying is valid. It’s all so interesting…

I understand what you are saying Julie. Talking of passion, that is Scout to a tea in a Watchman. I suspect she may be very much the persona of Harper Lee! I read there is no real plot to Watchman and in a way that is true in that nothing “happens” to the characters, not externally. It’s about a shift in thinking for Scout. That makes it a bit dense to read in a couple of parts as she talks with her Uncle. I think there is some assumed knowledge about what is happening in the world of politics in the 50’s. It’s written for a reader of the time.

I wonder if Harper Lee let it out because in many ways the process of change happening in the South mirrors the process in the 50’s and so her novel is actually relevant. It seems to be another time of siesmic shift in attitude with the Confederate flag. Etc.

Thanks for the kind comments Julie!

I do think that it’s so interesting that this book comes out just when we need a real, and very honest discussion of race in this country. Speaking of which, I find that watching President Obama in all he’s doing during this normally “lame duck” period is fascinating. I think he has decided that since there’s absolutely no need for him to campaign and posture any longer, he can get down to doing a few things that he wanted to accomplish. I also think it’s noteworthy that he and Michelle Obama, both, have been working hard to open up a discussion on race. Good for them! How I wish this had been what his presidency had been like for the whole of it, even while I know why it couldn’t be.

Ok. You should read Go Set a Watchman. Then read it again. It’s not necessarily comfortable reading but then honesty is never comfortable. I think we all know how hard it can be to confront our beliefs and wonder if they will hold up to scrutiny.

To Kill A Mockingbird is told from Scout’s perspective. It is the world seen through the lens of innocence. Watchman is Scout coming to see the world more clearly, where heroes and Gods are revealed to be human, and the truth is less a matter of fact than opinion.

The reaction to the book is almost like Scout’s reaction to what happens in the book. When her Uncle calls Scout a bigot I recoiled but he explained and I understood. It was about the way we react to having our beliefs challenged. Do we run or do we examine what we are being confronted with with intelligence and dispassion and look clearly at ourselves and where we stand.

I think this book is thought provoking and I know I will reread it. Characters that we care about can teach us a lot especially when our image of them is challenged. Think how we felt when Jean Guy spiraled into addiction. How about when Armand seemed to be taking the dissolution of his department without a fight. Peter and his journey? Clara’s behaviour in TLWH? We like our characters to behave the way we want. They don’t always.

Funny, as I write this they are talking about the novel on the news.

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