STARRED REVIEW
July 2015

The mockingbird sings again

It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.
STARRED REVIEW

The mockingbird sings again

July 2015
It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.
STARRED REVIEW
July 2015

The mockingbird sings again

July 2015
It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.
STARRED REVIEW
July 2015

The mockingbird sings again

It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.
STARRED REVIEW
July 2015

The mockingbird sings again

It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.
July 2015

The mockingbird sings again

It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.
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It’s one of America’s most iconic pieces of literature, and now, 55 years after its publication, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has a companion.

In February, seemingly out of nowhere, HarperCollins Publishers announced on behalf of Harper Lee, 89, that her second book, Go Set a Watchman, would be published on July 14.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird has never been out of print since it was published in 1960, and it is one of the most enduring, beloved American novels ever written. Told from the perspective of 6-year-old Scout Finch, the novel follows the rape trial of Tom Robinson, an innocent black man; his lawyer and Scout’s father, Atticus; and the trial’s effect on Scout and the small Southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Go Set a Watchman unfolds 20 years after the events of To Kill a Mockingbird and focuses on the adult Scout as she returns home to visit her father. Upon her return, she struggles with her feelings toward her hometown’s residents and its past, as well as her changing relationship with her father and his beliefs.

Calling Go Set a Watchman a “new” book from the reclusive literary legend is a stretch, however. It was Lee’s first attempt at a novel and was written in the mid-1950s, before To Kill a Mockingbird. Upon reading the manuscript, her editor suggested that she expand Scout’s intriguing recollections of her childhood into a novel. Eventually, this became To Kill a Mockingbird. The early novel was redis- covered by Lee’s lawyer in 2014 and is being published as it was originally written. In a statement released by her lawyer, Lee says, “I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years.

Although To Kill a Mockingbird was published to immense critical praise, Lee has refused to embrace stardom, rarely making public appearances or granting interviews. Instead, she has chosen a secluded life in her small hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. The private author has said very little about Go Set a Watchman, but she did send a note to a particularly persistent journalist. Her handwritten message? “Go away!”

After the initial excitement about the announcement of Lee’s new book, many voiced concerns that HarperCollins was taking advantage of the 89-year-old author. It seemed to some a bit too coincidental that the novel was announced a year after the death of Lee’s sister, lawyer and trusted confidante, Alice. The state of Alabama looked into concerns of elder abuse, but concluded that the claims were unfounded. Lee herself adamantly denied these accusations in a statement: “I’m alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions to [Go Set a] Watchman.” The novel has an initial print run of 2 million, and it is the most pre-ordered book in HarperCollins’ history.

 

This article was originally published in the July 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

Get the Book

Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman

By Harper Lee
Harper
ISBN 9780062409850

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