Harper Lee's second book Go Set a Watchman, seen as a sequel to her 1960 Pulitzer Prize-winning book To Kill a Mockingbird, which is her only published novel, has gotten a throwback cover.
The author, now 88, had written Go Set a Watchman and submitted the story to her publishers first. The cover design was revealed on Wednesday and shows a dark oak tree and a train approaching on tracks, possibly at dusk. Several covers of To Kill a Mockingbird feature trees. An oak tree plays a key part in the plot of the classic, popular novel, which is set in the '30s and focuses on racism in the South.
"There are so many wonderful parts of Go Set a Watchman hat it was hard to pick just one iconic image to represent the book," Michael Morrison, president and publisher of U.S. General Books and Canada at HarperCollins, said in a statement. "This design is perfect—it draws on the style of the decade the book was written, but with a modern twist. Go Set a Watchman begins with Scout's train ride home, but more profoundly, it is about the journey Harper Lee's beloved characters have taken in the subsequent 20 years of their lives."
"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," Lee said in a statement in February. "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."
Go Set a Watchman is 288 pages long, set in the '50s and features many of the original characters, including Alabama native and now-adult Jean Louis Finch, aka Scout, and her father, lawyer Atticus Finch. HarperCollins had announced in February that Lee's attorney, Tonja Carter, had in 2014 found the original manuscript among the author's possessions and that the book would be released on July 14.
"Returning home to Maycomb to visit her father, Jean Louise Finch—Scout—struggles with issues both personal and political, involving Atticus, society, and the small Alabama town that shaped her," HarperCollins said about Go Set a Watchman. "Exploring how the characters from To Kill a Mockingbird are adjusting to the turbulent events transforming mid-1950s America, Go Set a Watchman casts a fascinating new light on Harper Lee's enduring classic."
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The cover was revealed almost two weeks after the Alabama Securities Commission closed an investigation into whether the notoriously reclusive Lee, who is 88 and lives in an assisted-living facility, was manipulated into publishing the book.
"She wanted it to be published," Joseph Borg, who heads the commission, according to Reuters. "She made it quite clear she did."
"She is alive and kicking and happy as hell with the reactions of Watchman," Lee's lawyer said.