The first chapter of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman premiered online today alongside an audio version read by Reese Witherspoon. The Guardian and The Wall Street Journal co-debuted the preview of Lee’s novel, which marks her first published work in over 50 years. With a Southernly affectation in her voice, Witherspoon gives voice to each character, familiar and new, bringing emphasis and intonation to the author’s long-awaited narration.
The story, deeply rooted in family history, picks up with beloved To Kill a Mockingbird protagonist Scout (a.k.a. Jean Louise Finch) on her train-ride back to her home of Maycomb County to see her father Atticus. Check out a few of our favorite quotes from the first chapter to Go Set a Watchman below. Can we just say, it’s good to have you back, Harper?
“Her father had a way of undermining his sister’s lectures on the innate superiority of any given Finch: he always told his daughter the rest of it, quietly and solemnly, but Jean Louise sometimes thought she detected an unmistakably profane glint in Atticus Finch’s eyes, or was it merely the light hitting his glasses? She never knew.”
“She had told the conductor not to forget to let her off, and because the conductor was an elderly man, she anticipated his joke: he would rush at Maycomb Junction like a bat out of hell and stop the train a quarter of a mile past the little station, then when he bade her goodbye he would say he was sorry, he almost forgot. Trains changed; conductors never did.”
“She was almost in love with him. No, that’s impossible, she thought: either you are or you aren’t. Love’s the only thing in this world that is unequivocal. There are different kinds of love, certainly, but it’s a you-do or you-don’t proposition with them all.”
Go Set a Watchmen hits bookstores July 14th. Via The Guardian.