Harper Lee fans eagerly anticipating the release of her new novel “Go Set a Watchman” got a sneak peek at the novel recently with the publication of the novel’s first chapter.
Before the publication of the beginning of the book, fans knew that “Watchman” takes place decades after Lee’s legendary, Pulitzer Prize-winning first book “To Kill a Mockingbird” and centers on “Mockingbird” protagonist Scout Finch as an adult when she returns to visit her father Atticus in the town of Maycomb, Ala.
“Mockingbird” takes place in the 1930s and follows Scout’s memories of a turbulent time in her childhood, when her lawyer father Atticus took on the case of an African-American man accused of raping a white woman.
The film version of “Mockingbird” netted actor Gregory Peck, who portrayed Atticus, a Best Actor Oscar and the movie also won the Best Adapted Screenplay award as well as being nominated for Best Picture, Best Director for Robert Mulligan, and Best Supporting Actress for Mary Badham, who portrayed Scout.
Following the publication of the first chapter, readers now know a little more about the world of “Watchman."
What most likely got readers’ attention the most? Scout’s brother Jem is dead. This is referred to casually in the text in describing Scout’s love interest Henry Clinton. Henry was a friend of Scout’s older brother and Scout remembers how Jem “dropped dead in his tracks one day.” After Jem died, Atticus decided to bring on another young man for his practice. Henry was selected by Scout’s father for this task.
In addition, during the first chapter, Henry proposes to Scout, but Scout demurs for the moment. “For the present she would pursue the stony path of spinsterhood,” Lee wrote.
A famous character yet to make his appearance in the chapter? Scout’s father Atticus, who is referred to as ailing – he was apparently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Henry tells Scout that Atticus can no longer close his hands all the way and that Scout’s Aunt Alexandra must help him with tasks like tying his shoes.
Still on board for this new book, readers? “Watchman” will be published on July 14.