It's been almost six months since the monumental announcement that a previously unknown Harper Lee book would be published, but now the release date is finally (almost) here.
Go Set a Watchman, which Lee wrote prior to To Kill a Mockingbird but was rejected by publishers, will hit shelves this Tuesday. The story follows Jean Louise Finch as she returns to Alabama to visit her ailing father—her famous Pulitzer prize-winning novel was written as a prequel of sorts to the original tale.
While it will still be a couple of days before Harper Lee fans can read the whole book (or, even better, listen to the audio version narrated by none other than Reese Witherspoon), The Wall Street Journal is hooking readers up with a sneak peek at the first chapter. Naturally an immediate read was impossible to resist. As such, the question on everyone's mind is: How is it?!
In a word: Nostalgic. For anyone who holds a special place in their heart for the memory of reading To Kill a Mockingbird for the first time, this book is going to bring you right back to childhood. Or, at least we can confirm that the first chapter will. It's great to be back with Scout again, even if she's not exactly the little girl that audiences remember.
In fact, she's a fully grown woman living in New York, with a southern suitor and a knack for dirty jokes to boot. (Or as WSJ chose to phrase it, "sexually liberated.") The story opens on the last day of her train journey to visit her father back in Maycomb County, who at 70-plus years old is still running the law practice but struggling with a bad case of rheumatoid arthritis. Scout still holds the same mentor-style affection for her wise pop, as she has chosen to take the train to avoid the long drive her father would have to make to the airport.
She's still a total tomboy, dressing herself in slacks and loafers despite the inevitable disapproval she knows is coming from her female family members, and one with a wicked sense of humor to boot. The first chapter includes her chuckling at the bad fortune of a smug cousin of her.
And of course, there's that Southern suitor. It seems she's taken up a bit of an affair with Henry Clinton, her childhood neighbor and current partner at Atticus' law firm. But ever the fiery one, she's thus far refused his many marriage proposals, opting to stay in New York and "play until I'm thirty." Plus there's the added fact that she's not sure he's "the one," and Scout is determined to hold out for the real love of her life. How's that for mid-century feminism? Get it, Harper Lee.
Of course, as much affection as we have for these familiar characters and settings, it is hard to tell a lot about a book from only a few pages. There's always the slight possibility that the debut story from a very young author won't actually hold up—but we're choosing to look on the bright side. Even if the plot doesn't hold as much water as the riveting Mockingbird, revisiting a classic is never a bad thing. We've got faith in this one.
Read the entire first chapter here, and let us know what you think of the sneak peek!