Art & Culture

Mystery behind Harper Lee's new novel solved?

Vaishali Gauba
Harper Lee in 2007
Getty Images

Even before its release, Harper Lee's "Go Set a Watchman" has topped Amazon's best-selling list. It has also stirred speculation among some people who know the reclusive author about why the 88-year-old Lee agreed to release her first novel since "To Kill a Mockingbird, " reported.

"I don't think she agreed to do it. I think it's her attorney being greedy, because Ms. Lee was a very private person who didn't like a lot of publicity," said Janet Sawyer, owner of the Courthouse Café in Lee's hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, according to

Sawyer told she used to frequently serve Lee and her sister until two years ago. Lee's 103-year-old sister, Alice, died in November, said.

Lee's long-time lawyer, Tonja Carter, has power of attorney over Lee's affairs and was behind the action, according to

Speaking of the author, Sawyer told the news site: "She had a stroke several years ago and her mind is not in a condition to make these decisions, I don't think, personally. Tonja Carter doesn't allow her to see her friends anymore. She's isolated her from the world in order to manipulate her."

A person who answered the phone at Carter's office in Monroeville on Wednesday told CNBC the attorney is not commenting.

Read MoreA new book, but an old conspiracy theory

Sawyer told that the novelist always said she didn't want her second book to be published until after her death. That contradicts the statement by Lee in HarperCollins' announcement Tuesday of its plans to publish the novel this summer.

"I hadn't realized it had survived, so was surprised and delighted when my dear friend and lawyer Tonja Carter discovered it," the statement said. "After much thought and hesitation I shared it with a handful of people I trust and was pleased to hear that they considered it worthy of publication. I am humbled and amazed that this will now be published after all these years."

The new book is believed to have been completed five decades ago. Lee's classic "To Kill a Mockingbird" was published in 1960.

Read More Harper Lee takes top 2 spots on Amazon bestsellers

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CORRECTION: This version corrected the attribution of Lee's stroke to Sawyer.