New Harper Lee novel announced
Views 64 | Time to read: 4 minutes | Uploaded: 2 - 10 - 2015 | By: Amanda Underwood
In the mid-1950s, author Harper Lee finished a book called “Go Set a Watchman,” a story about a woman named Jean Louise Finch who returns to see her father in her hometown of Maycomb, Ala. Throughout the story, Jean Louise Finch has flashbacks of her childhood.
It was these flashbacks that inspired her editor to urge Lee to write another story based on Jean Louise Finch as a child—a girl we know as Scout from “To Kill A Mockingbird.”
Lee, an unpublished writer, took her editor’s advice and put the original novel aside to write the book that would become the American classic.
According to CNN news, last autumn Lee’s dear friend and lawyer, Tonja Carter, discovered the discarded novel and brought it to Lee’s attention. Lee tentatively showed it to a number of people she was close to and trusted and received tremendous feedback and was encouraged to publish it.
“I am humbled and amazed that this will be published after all these years,” said Lee.
From what information Lee has been willing to give about the rediscovered novel, the book is a story about navigating a father-daughter relationship and life in a racially tumultuous small southern town in Alabama in the 1950s. Although it was technically written before “To Kill a Mockingbird,” it serves a sort of sequel to its predecessor.
The overwhelming reception that Lee’s new book is already receiving is mainly due to the book that took its place so many years ago. After its publication in 1960, “To Kill A Mockingbird” brought Lee the fame she has now. The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel was made into a successful film, and Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Finch in the film, won an Oscar for his performance. The book is a staple in reading lists in English classes all over the nation, and has sold well over 40 million copies since its publication.
Although “Go Set A Watchman” may owe its immediate fame to its predecessor, Jonathan Burnham, Lee’s senior vice president and publisher, said “its discovery is an extraordinary gift to the many readers and fans of ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’”
There is some debate as to whether or not the newly discovered novel will be able to stand up against the crushing expectation that comes from the success of “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Many, however, are just thrilled that another book even exists, considering the fact that “To Kill A Mockingbird” was the first and last book that Lee ever published, until now.
In poor health after suffering a stroke in 2007, Lee has previously avoided the public eye by remaining in her hometown of Monroeville, Ala. Now, however, the exciting possibilities of “Go Set a Watchman” seem to have livened Lee’s spirits—Lee’s publisher, Harper Collins, described her as “happy as hell.”
However, some worry that the whole affair is taking advantage of Lee’s old age and poor health. Secluded for so long, Lee’s publisher says that she has a hard time fully understanding the contracts that are put in front of her.
The concern is that the publication of the new book is taking advantage of her fragile and vulnerable state. Her close friends and editor, however, deny these allegations and assure the public that Lee feels strongly and positively about the release of the novel.
Regardless of how “Go Set A Watchman” compares to “To Kill A Mockingbird,” it certainly is a treasure for the literary community and fans of Harper Lee and her work.
Set to release July 14, readers will wait in anticipation, eager to witness the publication of a sixty-year-old manuscript by one of America’s most beloved authors.