To Kill a Mockingbird is undeniably a classic. What is more, the novel is a much loved by all manner of people. Whether you read for pleasure, are a professional critic or someone who nostalgically remembers reading the book at school. It is difficult not to like the novel and the character of Scout.
The news that Harper Lee has written a sequel to her 1950s classic is cause for celebration and just a little, tiny, barely noticeable suspicion.
Think about it in terms of music. If an artist produced an amazing best selling, critically acclaimed album and produced nothing else. And then, 50 years later came out and said “Oh, I forgot, I produced a second album, would you like to hear it?” What would we think? Attempted comeback? Cashing in?
Of course, there is a huge difference between music and literature. In the case of Harper Lee there is also the fact she is genuinely and honestly loved.
Voices have expressed a feeling that the death of her sister, who protected her privacy, may have left a void in her life that means she is susceptible to exploitation. There is the nature of the discovery by her friend, a lawyer. Are we meant to assume honesty? This novel will be huge and make the Harry Potter sales look like the opening weekend The Lone Ranger movie.
All kinds of questions about the motivations for the release are going to abound, but one of the most important questions are going to be whether it is any good. Harper Lee did not write a second novel (until now). Why not? And is this one going to be any good? At the best of times, sequels can be difficult. After such a long time with such a level of expectation, the novel could be wholeheartedly accepted or…well, we are not going to find out until Go Set a Watchman arrives on 14th July.
We shall all be waiting with honest expectation.