Like most avid readers I have been waiting for Go Set A Watchman to be released. Last summer the news of a long ago manuscript as the precursor to Kill a Mockingbird was all the literary talk both professionally and for those of us who love to read. For many years, I reread the TKAM every summer and I would have done so this time but I don't think it made it in all the books that we brought up to North Carolina. So when the local bookstore took reservations for the book, I signed up. Then I read the first chapter on WSJ and settled into that prose that I have loved for so long. I started a blog post about reading the first chapter but didn't go back to it when I read a NYT review. Lots of people upset about Jem but most were upset about Atticus. He was not the fine lawyer for civil rights he was a southern racist. Of course most know the story that the editor told Harper Lee to write from the children's point of view and go back in time. Harper worked on the story and after several years, the finished product was TKAM. The beloved book by everyone and then the movie was made and the rest is history. The screenplay was one of Horton Foote's finest efforts. And then Harper Lee went on to help Truman Capote with interviews and notes for In Cold Blood and she never published another book. Many blamed her older sister who died several years ago, while others hoped against hope she had manuscripts to be published upon her death. As the years went by many made a pilgrimage to Monroeville Alabama, where the Lee's lived and the fictionalized Maycomb was based upon.
After reading the review, I didn't know if I still wanted to read the book but decided a Yankee wasn't going to define what I should or should not read. So on Tuesday, I picked up my copy and brought it home. I didn't want to start reading it right away but when the electricity went off several times due to storms in the area, the book was a good diversion Tuesday night. I was hooked! Even though professionals have come out to say if this was a manuscript from anyone today, it would never be published. I don't run in those circles...so what do I know? This afternoon I began reading again and found it difficult to put down, even in the midst of the shocking revelations. I wondered if anyone who reviewed the book had read any of the unofficial biographies on Harper Lee. It wasn't made a secret that Atticus or I mean Mr. Lee kind of had those leanings.
These past few days as I have read GSAW and pondered over the narrative I've questioned myself, why is TKAM one of my favorite books and movie? I think part of me is enamored with a father who loved his children and while not extravagant in things, he was extravagant with time. But, thinking through this I think I liked the book because Scout or Jean Louise was a character I could totally identify with. She loved to run and play ball. She was up for a physical challenge. She got to wear coveralls and play with the boys. Being dressed up made her fidgety and she would rather read or play than play tea party or dolls. That was me growing up and somewhat today. Don't get me wrong, I like being a girl but I can do without teas and small talk and trying to keep up with so n so. I like nice clothes but I really like them to be comfortable and of course I love gathering with friends, but let the conversation be uplifting and meaningful and a whole lot of fun. When I started wearing makeup, other than in junior high because who knows what they are doing in junior high school, I pretty much am a put it on, rarely check it during the day kind of girl. My car mirrors on the sun visor have probably been used ten times total. I don't look at myself before getting out of the car usually. I should have done so yesterday because I went to Weaverville looking pretty basic, doing nothing to my hair and half finished makeup. ADD once again kicked in and at first I was kind of upset with me, but really....I went through the drive through at the bank and WalMart. Case closed. Never been a sit at the table after eating and pull out a compact and smear powder on my face and apply lipstick at the table. For one reason, my mother told me it was rude to do that and for another that was just one more thing to carry in my purse...a mirror. So, unfortunately, my liking TKAM had nothing to do with high ideals, it had more to do with finally finding a character in a book that I would want to be friends with. Now reading about grown up Jean Louise, I think I would still want to be friends but since I can lean closely to a cynical side, we probably couldn't hang out together very often.
Had a fabulous visit with Rebecca R this week. She was in the area visiting friends and came over to spend a night. We saw some sights, ate at Moose Cafe, went to a couple of antique shops and spent some time after 5:00 at Antler Hill Village. We drove back in the midst of a coming storm. The wind here howls a little louder probably due to all the trees. Limbs of all sizes were dislodged on our route home. The sky kept turning an angrier gray as we came closer to home. We made it back safely but it rained throughout the night and into the early afternoon. Rebecca had purchased her Biltmore House ticket for Tuesday. I rarely go to the house anymore, don't have the stamina for it, so we said our goodbyes after breakfast and she headed to the estate.
Because it was 76 degrees out yesterday, I trimmed some tree branches and pulled some weeds. I even ended up picking about a cup of blackberries from the side of the driveway. The ones at the front of the property have played out...thankfully, so I wasn't tempted to go down there and look. I told Roy I need to get into picking shape for next years blackberry season.