Local News

Excitement builds after release of Harper Lee's 'Go Set a Watchman'

Posted July 14, 2015 4:34 p.m. EDT
Updated July 14, 2015 5:56 p.m. EDT

— Book lovers across the nation buzzed with excitement over the Tuesday release of Harper Lee's novel "Go Set a Watchman," the sequel to the Pulitzer Prize-winning "To Kill a Mockingbird."

In Raleigh, several readers stopped by Quail Ridge Books to grab a copy of the new novel.

"We opened early - at 7, so that was special, and we were pretty busy," said store manager Sarah Goddin.

Amid the excitement, there also was trepidation and disbelief that character Atticus Finch, the courtly model of integrity who defended a wrongly accused black man of rape in the 1930s in "Mockingbird," is portrayed as a racist 20 years later in "Watchman."

"So many people feel so strongly attached to the characters, especially Scout and Atticus," Goddin said. "So, to hear that Atticus in this book is not the person we expect him to be has a lot of people thinking, 'Oh! I don't know.'"

Before the February announcement of the discovery and release of "Watchman," Lee had long said she wouldn't publish another novel. Concerns linger in her hometown of Monroeville, Ala., over whether the publication is something Lee truly wanted.

"I don't think that (Lee), if she were really able to think as she was able to years ago, if she would have approved the book," said Mary Tucker, an acquaintance of Lee's.

Lee, who is 89 and mostly deaf and blind, lives in a 15-person assisted-living facility where she is closely guarded and only a short list of pre-approved visitors are allowed to see her.

Despite the controversy, fans say the day will go down in history.

"I'm going to text a picture of this to my English teacher from high school and be like 'I got it! Did you get your copy?'" said Molly Jones, a customer who purchased the book at Quail Ridge Books.

"Go Set a Watchman" was the most pre-ordered book on Amazon.com since J.K Rowlings' final 'Harry Potter' novel in 2007.