Um, excuse me? I'm not sure I heard you right, Harper Collins. Did you actually just say that Harper Lee, the 88-year-old reclusive author who disappeared after "To Kill a Mockingbird" was published over 50 years ago, is publishing a second novel about a grown-up Scout? (Scout is the girl who narrates the story in "To Kill a Mockingbird.")
The second novel, which is basically a sequel to "To Kill a Mockingbird," is 304 pages, was actually written before "To Kill a Mockingbird," it is called "Go Set a Watchman," and it will be released on July 14, 2015.
According to the press release, here is the novel's plot:
"Go Set a Watchman" is set during the mid-1950s and features many of the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird some twenty years later. Scout (Jean Louise Finch) has returned to Maycomb from New York to visit her father, Atticus. She is forced to grapple with issues both personal and political as she tries to understand her father's attitude toward society, and her own feelings about the place where she was born and spent her childhood.
Harper Lee will not be doing any publicity for the novel, just as she did not do any public appearances for "To Kill a Mockingbird" after 1964. But she has released a statement about this book. Here is what Harper Less said (quote from the Harper Collins press release):
"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."
Of course, the novel that developed from the flashback became "To Kill a Mockingbird," so this new novel that will be published in July 2015 is essentially the literary womb that gave birth to "To Kill a Mockingbird." One of the VPs at Harper said this about the new book: " it is a compelling and ultimately moving narrative about a father and a daughter's relationship, and the life of a small Alabama town living through the racial tensions of the 1950s."
We really do live in amazing times, and I am determined to maintain a sense of wonder in this world, no matter how bad the news headlines get. Let's just forget all of the nightmares and violence that assault our senses daily from screens and newspapers and just relish this thought: a new Harper Lee novel will be in our hands come mid-year.
To read the full press release from Harper Collins, click here.