Thursday, February 5, 2015

Reader's Dilemma - Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee




In her first book in 50 years, Miss Nelle has decided to grace us with the sequel to her amazing iconic book, To Kill A Mockingbird.

My initial reaction:

After a day or so of thinking about it:

This is Nelle Harper Lee we are talking about. Notably reclusive and private, Miss Nelle rarely grants interviews and has said multiple times in the past that she has done all of her talking with TKAM and will not publish another book in her lifetime.  Her sister, Alice Lee, who was very protective of her sister and a pillar in the Monroeville community, passed away in the fall and now Lee's lawyer has basically taken over the duties of management.

Alice gave up her duties as Harper Lee's lawyer when she turned 100 and since then, there have been some issues with Tonja Carter, her new lawyer.

An unauthorized biography was released without the consent of Harper Lee and was purportedly written by a "friend" despite everybody knowing that she does not want any biographies written about her and has not given an interview in decades.

There was another issue arising with this lawyer where they were involved in some sort of scam and had to have a hefty sum of money recovered by a New York firm.

Harper Lee has had a stroke in recent years and there are rising concerns that she is being taken advantage of by her lawyer. There was a lawsuit filed to trademark her works more securely in Monroeville and there is rising speculation that Carter did this in order to save a business that she is involved in. Click here for a report on the suit.

Then this book comes out while Harper Lee is still alive and has diminished cognitive faculties?

Go Set a Watchman was discovered by Carter attached to a copy of TKAM and was not found in Alice's estate.  That being said, I'm extremely suspicious.

The statement released by Carter, supposedly from Lee herself, says that she is thrilled about discovering the manuscript by her "good friend" and she is excited about the publication.  I'm not buying it. Harper Lee has refused to publish another book in her lifetime and as soon as her sister is out of the picture, this new book comes out. is the problem I'm running into.

I adore To Kill A Mockingbird and Go Set A Watchman is about Scout all grown up, reflecting on her past in her hometown. But do I go and read this new book that may or may not be the result of taking advantage of an elderly woman who has said on multiple occasions that she is not going to publish another book in her lifetime?

It feels like I would be taking advantage of her as well if I were to buy it immediately and read it. I've looked to Harper Lee's own words to come to the decision that I cannot, in good conscience, buy this book until it has been confirmed by Harper Lee herself that she has approved this publication or she goes the way of God.

They're certainly entitled to think that, and they're entitled to full respect for their opinions... but before I can live with other folks I've got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn't abide by majority rule is a person's conscience. - To Kill A Mockingbird

Everybody needs to make their own decisions about this but I am going to stand by Harper Lee's original credo that TKAM is the only book she needed to publish in her lifetime. She has said what she needed to say and I respect that.

What about you? Do you have concerns about books being published by lawyers instead of by the authors themselves? Would you buy this book right away?


  1. I am very concerned ... I am not sure this book can live up to To Kill a Mockingbird. I will most likely read it, though probably not right away. I haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird in so long I must go back and reread it. I am excited for the sequel but it's just kind of sad how its coming out.

    Her saying that she isn't going to write another book in this lifetime makes it seem like she will write from beyond the grave or something like that lol.

    1. Zombie Harper Lee. :-P

      It is sad how all of this is going down. You would think that there would be a bit more dignity attached to this.