Local book lovers flocked to Sacramento stores Tuesday to purchase Harper Lee’s newly released novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” lining up early outside Barnes and Noble and collecting copies they ordered months ago at the Avid Reader.
“People were rushing in, saying they wanted a first edition copy,” said Pam Rasmussen, store manager of the Barnes and Noble at Arden Fair. “Everything today is first edition.”
The store opened two hours early Tuesday morning for the release, and customers lined up outside waiting to get a copy, Rasmussen said.
Ann Hamilton, an assistant at Avid Reader in Sacramento, said there has been high demand for the book and that the store had received 30 preorders months in advance.
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Hamilton said customers have voiced some concern about the “Watchman” portrayal of attorney Atticus Finch, the hero of Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” who defends an African American man in the South during the 1930s.
While Atticus Finch’s character has changed – reviews say that he exhibits racist tendencies in “Watchman” despite his long-held place in American culture as a civil rights hero – readers are looking forward to the recently unearthed text. Some have also wondered about the minimal editing of “Watchman,” which has been published from a Lee manuscript written 60 years ago.
Theresa Coleman, 66, of Sacramento said she is excited to read the book despite mixed reviews.
“We have to remember that this was a long time ago,” Coleman said. “I’m looking forward to (reading the book) with open eyes.”
Having read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Jazel Ann Francis, 23, of Elk Grove said she loved the book and is eager to read the new release.
She said she thinks race is portrayed differently in the media and that Lee’s book may be a more accurate reflection of race issues at the time the book was written.
Rasmussen said the book has attracted interest from readers across the board. It has also renewed their love of Lee’s classic novel.
“It sparks even more interest in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ ” she said. “People are saying, ‘Gosh, I haven’t read that since high school.’ ”