‘Go Set a Watchman’ breaks online pre-order records Amazon at but fans response is less than overwhelming after beloved character is killed off in preview.
Harper Lee author of the classical American novel ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ resurfaces in the public eye after six long years. The first picture of the Pulitzer Prize winning author has been released after six years due to the early release of a documentary based on her life.
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The documentary titled ‘Harper Lee: American Masters’ has been updated due to the upcoming release of Harper Lee’s second novel. The 89 years old author is set to release another novel titled ‘Go Set a Watchman’ which some consider to be her first novel rather than second, because it was written by Lee before the 1960 classical book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
The picture released on E! Online shows Harper Lee sitting on a table in her hometown of Monroeville, at the Prop & Gavel Restaurant. The picture was taken in June 2015 and shows Harper Lee sitting with her director Mary McDonagh Murphy and her long-time friend and benefactor Joy Lee. The trio can be seen sitting around a table which contains the hardcopies of the upcoming book ‘Go Set a Watchman’ before them.
When it was announced Harper Lee is going to publish another book after so many years, many questioned if the author was being taken advantage of at such an old age. A police investigation was also carried out regarding elder abuse. However no charges were filed and Harper lee’s attorney and publishers have insisted the author is completely on board with the release of the second book.
According to Reuters the second novel by Harper Lee ‘Go Set a Watchman’ has already broken records of being the most pre-ordered book on Amazon.com. on Thursday Amazon confirmed the news and shared he title of the most online pre-orders was previously held by the Harry Potter books especially the 2007 book ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. The novel ‘Go Set a Watchman’ slated to be released on the 14th of July is quickly becoming one of the most anticipated novels to be published ever.
Amazon did not elaborate as to the exact figures already ordered online, however the HarperCollins publishers revealed they have already printed 2 million copies of ‘Go Set a Watchman’. The copies have only been printed for the US readers and were the initial run to be published; more orders are yet to come.
In February 2015 it was announced Harper Lee would publish another novel which was written even before the ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ in the 1950’s. The novel entitled ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was found as a manuscript by Harper Lee’s attorney in a safety deposit box, along with the original manuscript of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ had previously sold more than 40 million copies worldwide and is considered one of the American classics. The novel about racism and injustice in the south of America was also made into an Oscar winning movie starring Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch.
‘Go Set a Watchman’ features the characters of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ 20 years after the events of the original novel. The lawyer Atticus Finch will have grown old while his daughter Scout will visit him in the fictional town of Maycomb, Alabama.
Earlier today the first chapter from the novel was published online by The Guardian in the U.K. and The Wall Street Journal in the US. The first chapter of the novel written in the third person rather than from Scout’s point of view, has since revealed some very shocking details.
For example the Telegraph reports, in the first chapter Scout is now referred to by her full name as ‘Jean Louise Finch’ who currently lives in New York but is nostalgic about her home town in Maycomb, Alabama. The town still remains cut off from the rest of America as it was in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. However Scout has still retained her rebellious tomboy nature and still likes to dress up as a boy, even earning the disapproval of her aunt on the attire.
The most shocking revelation in the novel is the death of Jem Finch the brother of Scout and son of Atticus Finch. The lines in the first chapter which reveal the death refer to it as "Jean Louise’s brother dropped dead in his tracks one day". As the novel ‘Go Set a Watchman’ was written before ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ the character of Jem was probably not even elaborated much as it was shown in the prequel.
The novel also focuses more on the character of Henry Clinton the childhood friend of Scout, who has seen her grow from a tomboy to a woman. The first chapter describes Scout as ‘an overalled, fractious, gun-slinging creature into a reasonable facsimile of a human being".
Even though Scout is all grown up she "still moved like a thirteen-year-old boy and abjured most feminine adornment" further describing her as ‘She was easy to look at and easy to be with most of the time, but she was in no sense of the word an easy person’.
The novel also reveals Henry will ask Scout to marry him, but Scout does not agree saying ‘wants to play until I’m 30’, because she believes she may have an affair if she finds a man she loves later in life. Scout’s internal narration reveal ‘Hank didn’t deserve that,’ thus displaying the same moral compass her father Atticus Finch contained and she continues to ‘pursue the stony path of spinsterhood."
The story also reveals Atticus as a 72 years old man struggling from health issues after having developed rheumatoid arthritis and recovering from the death of his son. The novel will depict how Atticus finds another young man to lean on in his old age in the form of Henry and takes him under his wing, who becomes Atticus’ legman in due course.
While talking to the Telegraph, Andrew Nurnberg the British literary agent of Harper Lee revealed the book was politically shocking at the time it was written saying “it would have been very divisive. Without a doubt.” Nurnberg further called ‘Go Set a Watchman’ as “a very political book” and “a very important book, from a historical point of view, because you have a real sense of what was going on, on the ground in Southern Alabama”.
According to the Daily Mail although critics believe the book promises another great story by one of the best writers of the century, fan reaction has not been so supporting. Many fans have taken to the social media to express their disappointment at killing off the beloved character of Jem from ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’.
The editor of Guardian Books Claire Armistead stated it was difficult to pass judgement on the entire book ‘Go Set a Watchman’ before reading it completely, but the first chapter did seem ‘Promising’ saying 'What it sets up is lots of fascinating scenarios. ‘
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Fans of the original book on the other hand took to twitter to largely express their anguish at the death of Jem Finch. As one book seller Joe Whittington tweeted ‘Wow, Harper Lee just broke my heart this morning with one sentence.’ From the fans response it seems although ‘Go Set a Watchman’ generated a lot of hype for a book in many years and has already become a best-seller it may not prove to be as impressive as the first book.