Jean Louis Finch (better known as Scout from ‘To Kill A Mockingbird), one of the most beloved heroines of fiction, has finally returned.
Harper Lee’s hugely anticipated second novel, ‘Go Set A Watchman’, will be released at midnight on 14 July on an unprecedented scale. According to the Wall Street Journal, it’s the most pre-ordered book since ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’ in 2007, with a global coordination for distribution like no other book before. “Shipping a book to Azerbaijan usually takes two months but for next week’s release of Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set A Watchman’, an air courier has been enlisted to make sure copies arrive by Tuesday… At Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore., the manager of the chain’s airport shop is prepared to personally pick up copies at the warehouse, if necessary, and get them on the shelves by Tuesday morning.”
However, to get a taste before then, The Guardian has exclusively released the first chapter (read it here) and, if you live in the UK, you can get a free souvenir Harper Lee supplement, including the first chapter, inside tomorrow’s Guardian newspaper (11 July 2015).
Harper Lee wrote ‘Go Set A Watchman’ in the 1950s but put the manuscript aside when her editor advised her to rewrite the story from the perspective of Scout as a child. The rest is history, with ‘To Kill A Mockingbird winning a Pulitzer Prize and becoming one of the most successful novels in American history.
The existence of ‘Go Set A Watchman’ was only revealed last February and the circumstances around its publication have been widely debated and questioned, including why Harper Lee had decided to publish it now after never publishing anything since ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’.
Apparently the original plan was for Harper Lee to complete a trilogy of books, with ‘Mockingbird’ being the first, ‘Watchman’ being the last and a short novel connecting the two. For reasons we’ll probably never know, that never happened.
According to Harper Lee’s publisher, she insisted on the novel being published exactly as it was written all those decades ago, so it has only had a light copy edit, which will no doubtedly be criticised by some.
Regardless of all the debate, I can’t wait to get back into the world of ‘Mockingbird’ and see what a 26-year-old Scout and a 72-year-old Atticus are doing.
If you read the first chapter, be warned, you may shed a tear or two like me as the grown-up Scout (sorry, Jean Louis) takes a train home.
Leave us a comment to let us know your thoughts after reading the first chapter.