Reese Witherspoon Will Narrate the Audiobook of Harper Lee's Second Novel

"It is an honor and privilege to give voice to the Southern characters," the Oscar winner says

Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage; Stephen Shugerman/Getty

HarperCollins has some Oscar-caliber talent on board for the launch of Harper Lee’s second novel, Go Set a Watchman.

Reese Witherspoon will narrate the audiobook version of the novel, the publisher said Thursday. And the Tennessee-bred actress couldn’t be more excited to be part of the Southern author’s sophomore effort.

“As a Southerner, it is an honor and privilege to give voice to the Southern characters who inspired my childhood love of reading, Scout and Atticus Finch,” Witherspoon, 39, said in a statement. “I am eager for readers to be transported to a pivotal time in American history in the manner that only Harper Lee’s gorgeous prose can deliver.”

“The publication of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman is the literary event of the year, and Reese Witherspoon’s extraordinary talent and Southern roots make her the perfect narrator,” said Sean McManus, senior director at HarperAudio, whose Caedmon Audio imprint is producing the audiobook.

“This is an audiobook destined to become a classic, joining the ranks of our award-winning audio edition of To Kill a Mockingbird,” McManus added.

HarperCollins will print two million copies for the book’s July 14 publication date. PEOPLE had the first look at the book jacket in March.

Go Set a Watchman is essentially a follow-up to To Kill a Mockingbird, though it was actually penned years before – back in the 1950s. The two novels share the same setting and characters, but the stories do not overlap.

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