Harper Lee’s new novel, Go Set a Watchman, perhaps one of the most hotly anticipated books ever, has gone on sale today.
Many bookshops around the world stayed open all night to cope with demand.
While you wait for work to finish to run out and get your copy, have a read of what to expect from the book.
First, some incredible statistics from the BBC:
It was made clear to us that Harper Lee wanted it published as it was. We gave the book a very light copy edit.
The first problem in assessing Harper Lee’s first published novel in the five and a half decades since To Kill a Mockingbird is whether to describe it as her first or second book.
There’s little hint of darkness as the novel begins. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch, better known to us by her childhood nickname Scout, is returning to Maycomb, Ala., for a two-week vacation.
The novel turns on the adult Scout’s disillusionment with her father — a disillusionment that lovers of To Kill a Mockingbird will surely share.
Shockingly, in Ms. Lee’s long-awaited novel, “Go Set a Watchman” (due out Tuesday), Atticus is a racist who once attended a Klan meeting, who says things like “The Negroes down here are still in their childhood as a people.”
Despite its potential for drama, Lee develops her story through long dialogue sequences that read less like conversation than competing arguments.
In the end, this is the most shocking aspect of Lee’s novel, published 55 years after she was advised to discard it and focus on the children’s story instead – that we will never be able to read Mockingbird in the same way again, and never see Atticus in the same light again. It is the end of innocence for that novel, and its simple idealism.
Go Set a Watchman is a weird book.
- Read or Listen to the First Chapter of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman (Narrated by Reese Witherspoon)