Read The First Chapter Of Harper Lee’s Go Set A Watchman

The first chapter of Go Set a Watchman, Harper Lee’s anticipated second novel, has been released online via the Wall Street Journal. It follows the woman who had been To Kill a Mockingbird’s Scout, but has dropped the nickname and is now, in the 1950s American South, going by Jean Louise Finch, as she makes her way by train and car back to Maycomb, Alabama, from her adopted New York.

The chapter fills in the basic gaps between Jean Louise’s childhood and the present day; you find out what’s happened with her, what’s happened with Jem, and what’s happened with Atticus. Be prepared for a twist about three-quarters of the way into the chapter that might be a gut punch if you particularly love To Kill a Mockingbird.

It’s full of Lee’s zingers (“The poetry was so ahead of its time no one has deciphered it yet” – burn), wry observations (“If you did not want much, there was plenty”), and a few heartbreaking moments that come with the territory of catching up with friends after 20 years. But also, this first chapter deals a lot with Jean Louise’s negotiation of her womanhood – who she’s choosing to love, or not, and why; how she can get by as the grown woman who at heart is still Scout in a mid-century culture that’s not supportive of it.

Go Set a Watchman will be released this upcoming Tuesday, July 14, so you can pre-order your copy via Amazon (or, if you really love books, your local bookstore) today.

[Wall Street Journal]

[Image via Getty]

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