Fans of Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" are getting their first looks at Lee's long-awaited, controversy-swirled second novel, "Go Set a Watchman" today. The Wall Street Journal and The Guardian have published the first chapter of the novel set in Maycomb, Alabama, 20 years after the events of the first book as the Civil Rights movement grows (The Guardian's features outstanding narration by Reese Witherspoon, too). Jean Louise Finch — Scout to her father Atticus and legions of fans — returns home to Maycomb from New York and, according to publisher Harper Collins, 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.”
The events surrounding the discovery and publishing of the decades-old manuscript have been shrouded in suspicions of scandal, including whispers of potential elder abuse, but it's clear that the book is one of the major literary events of the decade. And in the first chapter alone, Lee reshuffles fans' expectations of what Jean Louise — and they — are coming home to Maycomb to reckon with.
Major spoilers ahead — seriously, stop reading now if you want to find out for yourself:
No, really — we warned you:
Okay, that was a false alarm. But for real, people are not taking the revelations of the first chapter well:
Well, one thing is actually pretty clear:
So, aside from the giant bombshell Lee drops in the first chapter, how's the actual writing? Some fans aren't convinced yet:
And some are still worried that none of this is in line with Lee's wishes for her work:
But there are some great lines in the first chapter:
And isn't it nice to have a Major Literary Event these days be actually, you know ...both major and literary?
If you don't have time to read this morning, here's the concise recap:
The book is out July 14.