The literary world lit up last week at news that Harper Collins will publish the second novel ever by reclusive author Harper Lee—a sequel to the American classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, no less. It all seemed too good to be true, and many questioned the intentions of her publisher and attorney, who spearheaded the release. Now there is a backlash to that backlash, with friends and associates coming forward to dismiss any doubts about Lee's desire for Go Set A Watchman to be released.

Much of the controversy now rests on whether you believe attorney Tonja Carter, who has worked with Lee since 2006 and became known for "jealously protecting the writer from visitors and perceived threats to her business interests," has her best interests in mind. The 88-year-old Lee, who was already reclusive and uninterested in publishing anything in the decades since Mockingbird was released, has had serious health problems in the last ten years. A friend told the Daily Telegraph that a 2007 stroke left her “95 percent blind, profoundly deaf,” and bound to a wheelchair: "Her short-term memory is completely shot, and poor in general." She now lives in an assisted-living facility in Monroeville, and no one can see her unless they go through Carter.

Many Monroeville residents don't believe Lee possesses sufficient mental faculties to make informed decisions about her career. Lee's biographer, Charles J. Shields, has agreed with some of the criticisms, saying that the situation indicates "an elderly woman who’s getting poor advice," and that if Alice Lee were still alive, "I doubt whether [she] would have allowed this project to go forward."

But other close friends defend Carter: Connie Baggett, a former newspaper reporter and a longtime friend of Carter, told the AP that the attorney was trusted implicitly by Lee and her sister Alice, who acted as her sister's main lawyer and advocate up until her death last fall. "[Carter's] not some interloper," he told them. "She's been part of the inner circle for years...I think if there were a motive of greed, family members would have stormed in to put a stop to things. I have not seen that happening."

Another longtime friend says he met with Lee the day before the announcement about the novel:

But historian Wayne Flynt, another longtime friend of the sisters, said he visited Harper Lee the day before the deal was announced, and found her completely lucid, cracking jokes and discussing the works of C.S. Lewis, though she didn't mention her own new book.

"This narrative of senility, exploitation of this helpless little old lady, is just hogwash. It's just complete bunk," Flynt said, adding that he has "no reason to question Tonja Carter's integrity."

It's important to note, Flynt said, that "Alice brought her in, kept her as a partner. She let her work increasingly with Nelle."

Carter was the one who found the book, which was actually written before Mockingbird and concerns an adult Scout returning to Alabama from New York to confront attitudes and feelings about her childhood home, last summer. Carter spoke to the Times in her first interview since the announcement and subsequent speculation. "I was so stunned. At the time I didn’t know if it was finished," she said of the manuscript. "She said, 'Complete? I guess so. It was the parent of Mockingbird.'"

Carter added that Lee is "extremely hurt and humiliated" at the suggestion that she had been duped. "She is a very strong, independent and wise woman who should be enjoying the discovery of her long lost novel," Carter said. "Instead, she is having to defend her own credibility and decision making."

The Times talked to several friends who supported her account:

Cynthia McMillan, a resident assistant at the Meadows who has taken care of Ms. Lee for several years, said in an interview that Ms. Lee was alert, understood what was happening with the newly found manuscript and seemed invigorated by the prospect of publishing again. “She seems excited about it, and it has given her something to focus on since her sister died,” Ms. McMillan said, describing Ms. Lee as “sharp as a tack.”

They also describe the mood around Monroeville amongst people who saw her before her health issues:

Karen Hare, owner of David’s Catfish House, said that on more than one occasion, Ms. Lee was explicit that she did not intend to publish anything else during her lifetime. “She always said she didn’t want anything done until she died,” Ms. Hare said.

It's worth noting that is not the first time someone has been accused of manipulating Lee. She resurfaced in public in 2013 to file a lawsuit in Manhattan court against Samuel L. Pinkus, the son-in-law of her long-time agent Eugene Winick, for allegedly tricking her into signing over the copyright on the book. As with Carter, there are a lot of different opinions on how Pinkus treated Lee:

In Lee's suit, Pinkus is accused of using various shell accounts to move royalties around. Various people see Pinkus in different ways -- he was devoted to Lee, or he was a clown, or he was very savvy.