Much could be said about the novel, but I must leave that for another time. What is of interest here, however, is that prior to accepting To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee's publishers had at first declined another manuscript which, until recently, was thought to be lost.
Now, after five decades, HarperCollins Publishers have finally signed a deal for the first printing of two million copies of the so-called 'sequel', Go Set a Watchman. Some bookstores, in fact, are set to open just after midnight on July 14th so that you won't have to wait any longer to get your hands on this newly accredited volume, which has also become the top most pre-ordered HarperCollins book.
James Daunt, head of the British bookstore chain, Waterstones, is eagerily anticipating this "thrilling" literary event.
"We open our shops at midnight to queues of excited customers only very rarely – in my career for Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera way back in 1988, then the run from 1999 to 2007 for J.K. Rowling, and now, most unexpectedly and seemingly miraculously, for Harper Lee in 2015."Yet not everyone appears to be looking forward to what one might describe as a "fascinating new light on Harper Lee's enduring classic". Alleged reports have risen suggesting that the terms between Lee and HarperCollins Publishers have not been fully disclosed. Her biographer asserted that she was "an elderly woman getting poor advice", prompting Alabaman authorities to subsequently launch an enquiry into whether Lee was the subject of abuse. However, although she has not spoken directly to the press, in a statement issued back in February Harper Lee did recall her old manuscript and certainly made it clear that she is delighted with its publication:
"In the mid-1950s, I completed a novel called Go Set a Watchman. It features the character known as Scout as an adult woman and I thought it a pretty decent effort. My editor, who was taken by the flashbacks to Scout's childhood, persuaded me to write a novel from the point of view of the young Scout. I was a first-time writer, so I did as I was told. I hadn't realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it. After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."The sequel, set twenty years after the events in To Kill a Mockingbird, revolves around the familiar protagonist Jean Louise Finch – otherwise known as Scout – and her experiences of returning from New York to her hometown that shaped her. Without having read the novel myself, the title is taken from the book of Isiah 21:6, perhaps in reference to Scout's father: "For thus has the Lord said to me, go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees."
Go Set a Watchman is also available housed in a dual collector's boxset, together with To Kill a Mockingbird, for $79.99 RRP.