I did not intend to write a post about “Go Set a Watchman.” I was not even sure whether I planned to read Harper Lee’s long-lost work. I have been curious about it since its publication was announced. Intrigued at the thought of continuing the story that was told so brilliantly in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” And, what could I say that hadn’t already been said about this new discovery?
Excuse my rambling here, I feel I had to write this post. To start, I was incredibly skeptical at this sudden discovery as well as the timing of it. Lee does not/did not seem the type of individual to forget a manuscript. Rather I wondered as did others if it was hidden for a reason. Perhaps the author did not want to share her early works with the world. I know I sometimes feel that way.
Throughout grade school, high school and even my 20s, I wrote various versions of stories, half completed, bits and pieces, scattered around my room. The stories were always in my head. Reading them back now, I cringe. The writing is juvenile and I would not want others to read those early writings.
The first time I read Mockingbird, I remember relating to Scout. I also appreciated its depiction of Atticus and the courtroom drama of the unjustly accused. Upon second and third reading, its characters and themes still resonate.
The story remained with me in the same way that “Gone With the Wind” and “Pride and Prejudice” remain with me. Perhaps it is the time in life when I first read all three — approximately sixth grade. Perhaps it is because they all share similar themes although in different context of dealing with various prejudices.
Adding another work with the same character creates fear that it will not live up to our expectation — the way that we want and expect the characters to behave or evolve. I know I felt that when I read Alexandra Ripley’s Scarlett, the “authorized” sequel to Gone With the Wind. I also felt for Margaret Mitchell, who throughout the years had very clearly stated that there would be no sequel.
In respect to Ms. Lee, who I admire, I hope this is not the case, and that she has truly authorized this publication.