Will I Ever Overcome My Fear of Harper Lee?

I’ve started reading ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ to my daughter and it’s a complete joy. Sharing what has been one of my favourite novels since I first read it as a young teen feels like a real privilege. It’s still fresh and powerful, so funny and touching no matter how many times I’ve reread it over the years.


Despite my love for the novel I’ve not once been tempted to read Harper Lee’s only other published book, the newly released ‘Go Set A Watchman’. Apparently, the recent publication is about Scout’s return to Maycomb County later in life. Although the novel is set chronologically after TKAM, Harper Lee actually wrote it beforehand. I’m not sure if that makes much difference to my dilemma, all I know is that I am deeply scared of reading GSAW. I think it’s because I couldn’t bear to be disappointed.

I don’t think I’d be as worried about GSAW if it was a stand alone novel. It’s the connection to TKAM that bothers me as so much is at stake. What if I discover things about the characters that I’ve known and loved for all these years, that sour my affection for them? I dare not take the risk.


It’s like when Morrissey went solo. I avoided his albums for years in case they ‘marred’ my love of The Smiths. (See what I did there?) However, by the time ‘Vauxhall and I’ came out in 1994, I was listening to Mozzer once more with gladioli-waving abandon. I’m so relieved that I did eventuality overcome that anxiety as I think ‘You are The Quarry’ is a glittering miracle, and ‘First of the Gang to Die’ is indisputably the best Morrissey track ever. That I might yet be unaware of it’s dizzying brilliance is unthinkable, but what if GSAW is a similarly dazzling gem? I’ll never know – well, not for a while, at least.