Reactions to Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman

Go Set a Watchman by Harper LeeThe buzz surrounding Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman was first about whether the press-shy author of To Kill a Mockingbird truly wanted her first manuscript to reach the public. Once the first chapter was made available online and the book was published days later, focus shifted to the character Atticus Finch, who is very different from the Atticus so admired in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Here are some online and social media reactions to both the July 10 broadcast of Harper Lee: American Masters and the book that was published July 14, 2015.

In reaction to naysayers of the book and even its very publication, author Stephen King voiced his wholehearted support of Harper Lee and her work.

Author Judy Blume weighed in by recommending an article in the The Guardian on Harper Lee and her new book:

Bookstores across the country welcomed the book with special events and fully dedicated window displays like this one:

On July 13, people posted questions online for Harper Lee’s friend Joy Brown and filmmaker Mary McDonagh Murphy, who also answered questions from a live audience. Watch the recorded Q&A for the answers to these questions:

Ms. Murphy, What was the biggest surprise you found when reading “Go Set A Watchman”? – Charlie Kaus

Would Harper Lee today consider this novel as “separate timeline” or altogether different story of the popular characters of “To Kill a Mockingbird?” – Cherryl Gary

Did Lee want to spare readers disappointment with Atticus, their moral champion? Is that why new book was delayed? – Christina Knight

Harper Lee’s literary agent Andrew Nurnberg had reason to celebrate. You could say his agency ate the book up. See their literary “mash-up” cake:

Reactions to the first chapter, posted on the American Masters site, included:

“Reads as if written by a totally different author.” — mary
“It reads like a comic book alternative/parallel story line – same characters, but different actions.” — nacrandell
“I got my copy yesterday and read it one setting. I hated it. I wish I hadn’t read it.” — Jon Carsello
“I just don’t want the Atticus Finch that I know to suddenly become the one I never wanted to know.” — Peter Lathrop
“I do like her writing style.” — Susan Keeping

What do you think of Go Set a Watchman? Share your comments, below.

Part of THIRTEEN Days of Harper Lee. See more at thirteen.org/americanmasters.