Harper Lee, as I’m sure you’ve all heard by now, is leaving the ranks of Emily Bronte, Margaret Mitchell, and Anna Sewell, and will have two novels published during her lifetime. I’m sure the blogs have been ablaze with it; I’ve not spotted much chat, but I’ve been rather absent from the blogosphere for the past fortnight.
In case you didn’t know, here’s the low-down:
It’ll be called Go Set a Watchman, showing that Harper ain’t lost her knack for titles that are seemingly gibberish but actually (probably) very meaningful.
It was written before To Kill a Mockingbird
It’s about an adult Scout – the editor Harper Lee sent it to told her to write about Scout as a child instead. That turned out ok.
Supposedly it was found in a box, or something.
However, Dr Ian Patterson at Cambridge University was underwhelmed by the news. “I can’t but imagine it must be of historical interest rather than anything else, at this point,” he said. “It will doubtless be eagerly read by fans of To Kill a Mockingbird, but that’s a soggy sentimental liberal novel if ever there was one. I’m always dubious of attempts to close the gap between fiction and reality, as in wanting to know what happens to characters outside a novel’s confines – Tom Jones with Alzheimer’s, Mr Darcy’s daughters or, as here, Scout grown up. I expect it will garner lots of short-term interest on those grounds, and on the grounds of being another novel by a one-novel writer.
Now, I have no idea who Dr Ian Patterson is, but according to his website one of his publications is a critical guide to Wyndham Lewis. Having tried and monumentally failed to read Tarr, I can sense that we are not likely to enjoy the same books. But Dr Simon Thomas says that To Kill a Mockingbird is far from soggy or sentimental. It is liberal, I suppose, in that it’s anti-racism, but I suspect (and hope) that’s not quite the gripe he has. Mostly, it is a beautiful portrait of a good man and excellent father – which does sound rather soggy, I suppose. But you’ve all read it; you know it’s not.
Having said that, I do have some qualms about this book being published. Harper Lee has always been adamant that she doesn’t want anything else to be published. I worry that her fragile mental and physical health may have led to her being pushed into something…
But will I read it? Of course.