MONROEVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – As the world continues to mourn the loss of Harper Lee, questions still surround the release of Lee’s second book, “Go Set a Watchman.” While “To Kill a Mockingbird” will likely be Lee’s signature work, one of her close friends, Wayne Flynt, sees it differently.
“Frankly, I like the original book of 1956 [Go Set a Watchman] than I like the original that was published [To Kill a Mockingbird,” says Flynt.
An author himself, Flynt agrees that Mockingbird is the most beautifully constructed work Lee produced, he argues that “Go Set a Watchman” is more genuine. “I think the most authentic Nelle Harper Lee is not the one who has the perfect father, but the one who has the deeply flawed father,” explains Flynt. “Not the one who’s surrounded by all these wonderful people in Monroeville who are supportive of her, but the ones who have compromised themselves and contradicted themselves. That’s the Alabama I know and love.”
The book shocked readers by portraying Mockingbird’s hero Atticus, as having racist viewpoints. “Our hero, who believed every person deserved equal rights as an individual, was fearful of rights, great political power in a people that had been consciously deprived of education for 200 years,” says George Landegger, another friend of Harper Lee.
Lee’s lawyer, Tonja Carter, came under heavy criticism when the book was released in 2015, for possibly taking advantage of the elderly author. George says that couldn’t be further from the truth. “She has served her extremely well. And this community got itself all in a tangle as to whether or not Nelle was aware that her book was being published and did she really want these things? Nelle was fully aware of what was going on,” says Landegger.
Her friends also opened up about Harper Lee’s personality and her legacy as an author.