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To Kill A Mockingbird Kindle Edition
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WHEN HE WAS nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow. When it healed, and Jem's fears of never being able to play football were assuaged, he was seldom self-conscious about his injury. His left arm was somewhat shorter than his right; when he stood or walked, the back of his hand was at right-angles to his body, his thumb parallel to his thigh. He couldn't have cared less, so long as he could pass and punt.
When enough years had gone by to enable us to look back on them, we sometimes discussed the events leading to his accident. I maintain that the Ewells started it all, but Jem, who was four years my senior, said it started long before that. He said it began the summer Dill came to us, when Dill first gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
I said if he wanted to take a broad view of the thing, it really began with Andrew Jackson. If General Jackson hadn't run the Creeks up the creek, Simon Finch would never have paddled up the Alabama, and where would we be if he hadn't? We were far too old to settle an argument with a fist-fight, so we consulted Atticus. Our father said we were both right.
Being Southerners, it was a source of shame to some members of the family that we had no recorded ancestors on either side of the Battle of Hastings. All we had was Simon Finch, a fur-trapping apothecary from Cornwall whose piety was exceeded only by his stinginess. In England, Simon was irritated by the persecution of those who called themselves Methodists at the hands of their more liberal brethren, and as Simon called himself a Methodist, he worked his way across the Atlantic to Philadelphia, thence to Jamaica, thence to Mobile, and up the Saint Stephens. Mindful of John Wesley's strictures on the use of many words in buying and selling, Simon made a pile practising medicine, but in this pursuit he was unhappy lest he be tempted into doing what he knew was not for the glory of God, as the putting on of gold and costly apparel. So Simon, having forgotten his teacher's dictum on the possession of human chattels, bought three slaves and with their aid established a homestead on the banks of the Alabama River some forty miles above Saint Stephens. He returned to Saint Stephens only once, to find a wife, and with her established a line that ran high to daughters. Simon lived to an impressive age and died rich.
It was customary for the men in the family to remain on Simon's homestead, Finch's Landing, and make their living from cotton. The place was self-sufficient: modest in comparison with the empires around it, the Landing nevertheless produced everything required to sustain life except ice, wheat flour, and articles of clothing, supplied by river-boats from Mobile.
Simon would have regarded with impotent fury the disturbance between the North and the South, as it left his descendants stripped of everything but their land, yet the tradition of living on the land remained unbroken until well into the twentieth century, when my father, Atticus Finch, went to Montgomery to read law, and his younger brother went to Boston to study medicine. Their sister Alexandra was the Finch who remained at the Landing: she married a taciturn man who spent most of his time lying in a hammock by the river wondering if his trot-lines were full.
When my father was admitted to the bar, he returned to Maycomb and began his practice. Maycomb, some twenty miles east of Finch's Landing, was the county seat of Maycomb County. Atticus's office in the court-house contained little more than a hat rack, a spittoon, a checker-board and an unsullied Code of Alabama. His first two clients were the last two persons hanged in the Maycomb County jail. Atticus had urged them to accept the state's generosity in allowing them to plead Guilty to second-degree murder and escape with their lives, but they were Haverfords, in Maycomb County a name synonymous with jackass. The Haverfords had dispatched Maycomb's leading blacksmith in a misunderstanding arising from the alleged wrongful detention of a mare, were imprudent enough to do it in the presence of three witnesses, and insisted that the son-of-a-bitch-had-it-coming-to-him was a good enough defence for anybody. They persisted in pleading Not Guilty to first-degree murder, so there was nothing much Atticus could do for his clients except be present at their departure, an occasion that was probably the beginning of my father's profound distaste for the practice of criminal law.
During his first five years in Maycomb, Atticus practised economy more than anything; for several years thereafter he invested his earnings in his brother's education. John Hale Finch was ten years younger than my father, and chose to study medicine at a time when cotton was not worth growing; but after getting Uncle Jack started, Atticus derived a reasonable income from the law. He liked Maycomb, he was Maycomb County born and bred; he knew his people, they knew him, and because of Simon Finch's industry, Atticus was related by blood or marriage to nearly every family in the town.
Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. In rainy weather the streets turned to red slop; grass grew on the sidewalks, the court-house sagged in the square. Somehow, it was hotter then; a black dog suffered on a summer's day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men's stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three o'clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft tea-cakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.
People moved slowly then. They ambled across the square, shuffled in and out of the stores around it, took their time about everything. A day was twenty-four hours long but seemed longer. There was no hurry, for there was nowhere to go, nothing to buy and no money to buy it with, nothing to see outside the boundaries of Maycomb County. But it was a time of vague optimism for some of the people; Maycomb County had recently been told that it had nothing to fear but fear itself.
We lived on the main residential street in town - Atticus, Jem and I, plus Calpurnia our cook. Jem and I found our father satisfactory: he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment.
Calpurnia was something else again. She was all angles and bones; she was near-sighted; she squinted; her hand was wide as a bed slat and twice as hard. She was always ordering me out of the kitchen, asking me why I couldn't behave as well as Jem when she knew he was older, and calling me home when I wasn't ready to come. Our battles were epic and one-sided. Calpurnia always won, mainly because Atticus always took her side. She had been with us ever since Jem was born, and I had felt her tyrannical presence as long as I could remember.
Our mother died when I was two, so I never felt her absence. She was a Graham from Montgomery; Atticus met her when he was first elected to the state legislature. He was middle-aged then, she was fifteen years his junior. Jem was the product of their first year of marriage; four years later I was born, and two years later our mother died from a sudden heart attack. They said it ran in her family. I did not miss her, but I think Jem did. He remembered her clearly, and sometimes in the middle of a game he would sigh at length, then go off and play by himself behind the car-house. When he was like that, I knew better than to bother him.
When I was almost six and Jem was nearly ten, our summertime boundaries (within calling distance of Calpurnia) were Mrs Henry Lafayette Dubose's house two doors to the north of us, and the Radley Place three doors to the south. We were never tempted to break them. The Radley Place was inhabited by an unknown entity the mere description of whom was enough to make us behave for days on end; Mrs Dubose was plain hell.
That was the summer Dill came to us.
Early one morning as we were beginning our day's play in the back yard, Jem and I heard something next door in Miss Rachel Haverford's collard patch. We went to the wire fence to see if there was a puppy - Miss Rachel's rat terrier was expecting - instead we found someone sitting looking at us. Sitting down, he wasn't much higher than the collards. We stared at him until he spoke:
`Hey yourself,' said Jem pleasantly.
`I'm Charles Baker Harris,' he said. `I can read.'
`So what?' I said.
`I just thought you'd like to know I can read. You got anything needs readin' I can do it ... '
`How old are you,' asked Jem, `four-and-a-half?'
`Goin' on seven.'
`Shoot no wonder, then,' said Jem, jerking his thumb at me. `Scout yonder's been readin' ever since she was born, and she ain't even started to school yet. You look right puny for goin' on seven.'
`I'm little but I'm old,' he said.
Jem brushed his hair back to get a better look. `Why don't you come over, Charles Baker Harris?' he said. `Lord, what a name.'
`'s not any funnier'n yours. Aunt Rachel says your name's Jeremy Atticus Finch.'
Jem scowled. `I'm big enough to fit mine,' he said. `Your names longer'n you are. Bet it's a foot longer.'
`Folks call me Dill,' said Dill, struggling under the fence.
`Do better if you go over it instead of under it,' I said. `Where'd you come from?'
Dill was from Meridian, Mississippi, was spending the summer with his aunt, Miss Rachel, and would be spending every summer in Maycomb from now on. His family was from Maycomb County originally, his mother worked for a photographer in Meridian, had entered his picture in a Beautiful Child contest and won five dollars. She gave the money to Dill, who went to the picture show twenty times on it.
`Don't have any picture shows here, except Jesus ones in the court-house sometimes,' said Jem. `Ever see anything good?'
Dill had seen Dracula, a revelation that moved Jem to eye him with the beginning of respect. `Tell it to us,' he said.
Dill was a curiosity. He wore blue linen shorts that buttoned to his shirt, his hair was snow white and stuck to his head like duck-fluff; he was a year my senior but I towered over him. As he told us the old tale his blue eyes would lighten and darken; his laugh was sudden and happy; he habitually pulled at a cowlick in the centre of his forehead.
When Dill reduced Dracula to dust, and Jem said the show sounded better than the book, I asked Dill where his father was: `You ain't said anything about him.'
`I haven't got one.'
`Is he dead?'
`Then if he's not dead you've got one, haven't you?'
Dill blushed and Jem told me to hush, a sure sign that Dill had been studied and found acceptable. Thereafter the summer passed in routine contentment. Routine contentment was: improving our treehouse that rested between giant twin chinaberry trees in the back yard, fussing, running through our list of dramas based on the works of Oliver Optic, Victor Appleton and Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this matter we were lucky to have Dill. He played the character parts formerly thrust upon me - the ape in Tarzan, Mr Crabtree in The Rover Boys, Mr Damon in Tom Swift. Thus we came to know Dill as a pocket Merlin, whose head teemed with eccentric plans, strange longings, and quaint fancies.
But by the end of August our repertoire was vapid from countless reproductions, and it was then that Dill gave us the idea of making Boo Radley come out.
The Radley Place fascinated Dill. In spite of our warnings and explanations it drew him as the moon draws water, but drew him no nearer than the light-pole on the corner, a safe distance from the Radley gate. There he would stand, his arm around the fat pole, staring and wondering.
The Radley Place jutted into a sharp curve beyond our house. Walking south, one faced its porch; the sidewalk turned and ran beside the lot. The house was low, was once white with a deep front porch and green shutters, but had long ago darkened to the colour of the slate-grey yard around it. Rain-rotten shingles drooped over the eaves of the veranda; oak trees kept the sun away. The remains of a picket drunkenly guarded the front yard - a `swept' yard that was never swept - where johnson grass and rabbit-tobacco grew in abundance.
Inside the house lived a malevolent phantom. People said he existed but Jem and I had never seen him. People said he went out at night when the moon was high, and peeped in windows. When people's azaleas froze in a cold snap, it was because he had breathed on them. Any stealthy crimes committed in Maycomb were his work. Once the town was terrorized by a series of morbid nocturnal events: people's chickens and household pets were found mutilated; although the culprit was Crazy Addie, who eventually drowned himself in Barker's Eddy, people still looked at the Radley Place, unwilling to discard their initial suspicions. A Negro would not pass the Radley Place at night, he would cut across to the sidewalk opposite and whistle as he walked. The Maycomb school grounds adjoined the back of the Radley lot; from the Radley chicken-yard tall pecan trees shook their fruit into the school yard, but the nuts lay untouched by the children: Radley pecans would kill you. A baseball hit into the Radley yard was a lost ball and no questions asked.
The misery of that house began many years before Jem and I were born. The Radleys, welcome anywhere in town, kept to themselves, a predilection unforgivable in Maycomb. They did not go to church, Maycomb's principal recreation, but worshipped at home; Mrs Radley seldom if ever crossed the street for a mid-morning coffee break with her neighbours and certainly never joined a missionary circle. Mr Radley walked to town at eleven-thirty every morning and came back promptly at twelve, sometimes carrying a brown paper bag that the neighbourhood assumed contained the family groceries. I never knew how old Mr Radley made his living - Jem said he `bought cotton', a polite term for doing nothing - but Mr Radley and his wife had lived there with their two sons as long as anybody could remember.
The shutters and doors of the Radley house were closed on Sundays, another thing alien to Maycomb's ways: closed doors meant illness and cold weather only. Of all days Sunday was the day for formal afternoon visiting: ladies wore corsets, men wore coats, children wore shoes. But to climb the Radley front steps and call, `He-y', of a Sunday afternoon was something their neighbours never did. The Radley house had no screen doors. I once asked Atticus if it ever had any; Atticus said yes, but before I was born.
According to neighbourhood legend, when the younger Radley boy was in his teens he became acquainted with some of the Cunninghams from Old Sarum, an enormous and confusing tribe domiciled in the northern part of the country, and they formed the nearest thing to a gang ever seen in Maycomb. They did little, but enough to be discussed by the town and publicly warned from three pulpits: they hung around the barber-shop; they rode the bus to Abbotsville on Sundays and went to the picture show; they attended dances at the county's riverside gambling hell, the Dew-Drop Inn and Fishing Camp; they experimented with stumphole whisky. Nobody in Maycomb had nerve enough to tell Mr Radley that his boy was in with the wrong crowd.
One night in an excessive spurt of high spirits, the boys backed around the square in a borrowed flivver, resisted arrest by Maycomb's ancient beadle, Mr Conner, and locked him in the court-house outhouse. The town decided something had to be done; Mr Conner said he knew who each and every one of them was, and he was bound and determined they wouldn't get away with it, so the boys came before the probate judge on charges of disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, assault and battery, and using abusive and profane language in the presence and hearing of a female. The judge asked Mr Conner why he included the last charge; Mr Conner said they cussed so loud he was sure every lady in Maycomb heard them. The judge decided to send the boys to the state industrial school, where boys were sometimes sent for no other reason than to provide them with food and decent shelter: it was no prison and it was no disgrace. Mr Radley thought it was. If the judge released Arthur, Mr Radley would see to it that Arthur gave no further trouble. Knowing that Mr Radley's word was his bond, the judge was glad to do so.
The other boys attended the industrial school and received the best secondary education to be had in the state; one of them eventually worked his way through engineering school at Auburn. The doors of the Radley house were closed on weekdays as well as Sundays, and Mr Radley's boy was not seen again for fifteen years.--This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B00K1XOV5G
- Publisher : Cornerstone Digital (8 July 2014)
- Language : English
- File size : 2952 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 322 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 3,060 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
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This book is absolutely brilliant. I've read the book three times in my life, at ages 13, 21 and now (today) at 42. With each reading I gain a deeper appreciation for the storyline, the author, and the moral beliefs that are challenged within these pages. I still can't believe it was written so long ago and yet Is still so relevant. There are few books that increase in complexity the more they are read, Harper Lee seems to speak to readers of all ages. With its slow, warm and evocative opening chapters, Mockingbird starts off like a sultry summer day in the South. Lee depicts a South of "whistling bob white," biscuits and warm milk, and ladies who on the hottest days bathe twice by noon and then douse themselves in lavender-smelling powder.
The story is narrated by Scout, the daughter of Atticus Finch, a criminal defence attorney in the Deep South who is assigned to defend a black man in his trial for raping a white girl. The novel tells the story of how Scout and her family endure the threatening ridicule from their community for Atticus' loyalty to this man. While Harper Lee delivers the message that black people were discriminated against in the Deep South, the other profound message is the struggle that whites endured when they chose to side with the blacks. Though there are many poignant moments, my favourite part was Atticus Finch's closing argument during the trial. His monologue constitutes some of the best pages of literature ever read. No matter how many times this novel is read, the reader will never cease to feel compelled by the message that it delivers. It should be compulsory reading.
This novel is every bit a page turner as any spy thriller, or action adventure mystery, filled with cliffhanger suspense. I found myself emotionally invested in the story. I was involved at every moment of this coming of age story. It provoked thought and laughter, anger, sadness and delight.
This is not the first time that I have read this novel, nor will it be the last.
Through a strange set of circumstances, not least arrival of a grandchild called Harper Lea (the parents had no specific knowledge of the book or author), I remembered the book. We listened to the audio, beautifully rendered by Sissy Spacek. It truly is a beautifully written story. The liberal use of southern descriptions of folk will offend some. However! It is a real chronicle of day to day in a small Southern county, with the engrained racism of the day. A study of courage. A study of decency. Well worth the read.
I feel a little unworthy, but e-reading affords us with the opportunity to express our feelings, so here goes... As many others have already covered this wonderful book with appropriate superlatives and honours, I can only add that it is one of the most uncontrived novels ever written, imo. Added to that, the writing style displays a naturalness that has encouraged generation after generation to read this poignant, endearing novel. Lastly, it impacted on me at 14 and it still does.
I know Harper Lee has had only one published book in her entire life (until recent times) but, what a book and what characters! To Kill a Mockingbird is a life changing, unforgettable and truly beautiful experience.
A captivating story and incredibly thought provoking regarding all aspects of humanity and particularly regarding racism.
Looking forward to the release of Harper Lee's to Go Set A Watchman
I found he book rivetting and hard to put down. An unusual style of narrative which became compelling the further into the book I read.
It is a comprehensive study in human behaviour & prejudices & racism in a small southern town in the USA.
Top reviews from other countries
But finally I had a chance of reading this and reading after this I felt like I would give more stars than possible .
The patience is utter key in the book. The way every character progress , the way harper Lee have developed each character it's real more than fiction.
Firstly, even though I was always an avid reader, when To Kill A Mockingbird was published it managed to pass me by. It wasn’t being read by my peers and any stir that the film had created was already dwindling by the time I reached the age group to which the book seemed to be appealing. Secondly, it is a book that seems to be better known these days for the film version than for its own merit, which is a shame. The 1962 film depiction, while creditable, is very narrow in its take on the story, focusing on the trial of Tom Robinson, a black man accused of raping a white woman. I’ll return to that later. Finally, of course, there are whole generations of people who will not have read the book (or seen the film) as it tends to be contemporary books that are read, while older works are mainly gathering dust on library shelves.
The plot covers many aspects of life in Alabama in the mid 1930s, as seen through the eyes of the protagonist Scout, or Jean Louise Finch to call her by her real name. The nickname is never explained. At the start of the story Scout is 6 years old, two years younger than Harper Lee would have been at this time. She is joined in her adventures by her older brother Jem (Jeremy) and a neighbour’s visiting nephew Dill (Charles Baker Harris). The book is not only a depiction of who two races see each other, it is also how different groups within the white race view each other and an early issue raised is about white poverty during the Depression.
It later emerged that Dill was loosely based on Harper Lee’s real life neighbour Truman Capote, another novelist also recently deceased.
Scout’s father is lawyer Atticus Finch who is also a member of the State Legislature and a much respected member of the community – at least at the start of the book. In real life Harper Lee grew up in Alabama and her father was a lawyer who became caught up in a rape case similar to that featured in the book. Harper Lee may also have been influenced by the trials, in Alabama, of the Scottsboro Boys, concerning the rape of two white women by nine black teenagers. The trials took place in 1931 the original trials are now generally regarded as significant miscarriages of justice.
We join Scout at the start of her schooling where we discover that she is a precocious child, already able to read and write. Some might describe her as old beyond her years. The story then takes us through three years of her life, including the period of the trial and its aftermath.
The use of Scout as the narrator is a very useful tool. As a child she is automatically considered to be naïve, which allows her to ask questions that no adult would think to ask, or maybe dare to ask. This is useful for the reader as the answers usually come from Atticus so we get to know him very well. They are more often avoided if asked of the other adult characters. We can feel Scout’s confusion as she is told by her first grade teacher not to read at home because she’s been taught to read “the wrong way”, which is one of the first narrow minded adult issues she has to deal with.
During the first half of the book black people are barely mentioned. Calpurnia, the Finch’s cook/housekeeper, is black but is very much a part of the Finch family, carrying much of the burden of Scout and Jem’s upbringing to that point. Scout’s mother died when she was quite young and was almost unknown to Scout. Apart from that we hear nothing much about the black community of Maycomb County, as though they are invisible. This is entirely intentional, of course. Black people and white people just didn’t mix. Scout lives in a white neighbourhood, so almost the only black people she ever sees are domestic servants such as Calpurnia and those such as Zeebo, the garbage truck driver, who has to come into the area as part of his duties. She never encounters the majority of the black community who work on the land.
Most of the first part of the story is about the three children and their adventures which, despite the passage of time, are not really any different from those that I enjoyed as a child and which many children still enjoy. In one sub-plot they are much taken by the mysterious figure of their reclusive neighbour, Boo Radley, and spend much of their time devising ways to tempt him from his house.
Later the story turns to the trial of Tom Robinson and we discover some things that the film doesn’t make clear. The first is that Atticus didn’t willingly take on Tom’s defence. He is appointed to it by the County Court judge. The judge’s choice is deliberate of course, he wants Tom to have the best defence possible and Atticus is the man who will deliver that, but we are left with the interesting question: “Would Atticus have taken the case of his own accord?”
The reason I ask this is because the film makes Atticus appear very liberal, almost a man of the future. I think the book shows us a different man. He was liberal by the standards of many of his peers, there is no doubt of that but would he, for example, have voted for John F Kennedy or Barak Obama? I’m not convinced. He believed in justice for all and the equality of all men before the law, but that is not the same as being liberal.
The film also omits some characters who have a considerable influence on Scout, those of Aunt Alexandra and Miss Dubose, for example. I can see the need for the Director of the film to be selective in what sections of the plot are included and which left out, but those decisions are what makes the book superior to the film. I actually rented the film to watch so that I could make those sorts of comparisons for this review.
In the run up to the trial the town is abuzz with gossip and divided in its attitude towards Atticus. Most people recognise that Atticus is just doing his job, but others regard his behaviour as showing favour to black people over white, which was unthinkable. Scout is regularly taunted at school over this matter and is not slow to take up arms in her father’s defence (be prepared for many uses of the “N” word).
This is where the story becomes so contentious, because white attitudes towards black people were just starting to be challenged openly in 1960 when the book was published. Rosa Parks took her famous bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955 and the book was published only 5 years before the civil rights marches protesting about black people not being allowed to register to vote in Alabama, despite it being their legal right to do so.
It is of course impossible for Tom Robinson to get a fair trial from an all-white jury in Alabama in the 1930s, so Tom is duly convicted despite there being more than a little doubt over the evidence presented by the two key prosecution witnesses, Bob Ewell and his daughter Mayella, the supposed victim of the rape. Indeed it is key to later events that the pair are shown up to be liars, but that isn’t enough to sway the jury. Indeed Tom is more than a little lucky not to have been lynched before the matter even got to trial.
It could be argued convincingly that it is still hard for a black person to get a fair trial in Alabama, even 80 years after the events depicted in this book, which makes the book as relevant today as it was then.
However, the period in which this book is set is crucial to the way it is told. The last surviving Alabama veteran of the Confederate Army still lived in the town. The parents of most of the characters and some of the older characters, such as Miss Dubose, will have grown up in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, which left two communities struggling to makes sense of what had happened to their way of life. This will have doubtless had a profound effect on the way the white community viewed the black, while the black community discovered that being free was not the same as being equal.
So, is this book still relevant in 2016? I would say it is.
Why have I only given this book four stars? After all, it was seen as one of the great works of the 20th century. Well, it is somewhat dated. I think that if Harper Lee were writing it today (if she were still alive to do so) she would take a whole new approach to get her message across. It is also a matter of expectations. We shouldn’t try to judge the past on the basis of our values in the present. As Atticus Finch himself says, if we want to know a person we have to put on his shoes and walk around in them for a while. If we wish to judge the present then we have a whole lot of new evidence available on which to base our opinions.
Do I recommend the book? Of course I do. My only regret is that I didn’t read it much earlier in my life.
It's written from a little girl's point of view but has amazing thoughts for everyone. Even after being written so many years ago, it still has some very relevant lessons for everyone, there is something for everyone in it! Definitely one of the #mustread books.
Here are some of my favourite #quotes from the book:
"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it."
"People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for."
"There are just some kind of men who-who're so busy worrying about the next world they've never learned to live in this one, and you can look down the street and see the results."
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 July 2019
I quite enjoyed this book. I won't bother telling you what it's about, you either already know or have read some other reviews who have gone into detail about the story.
The cover is beautiful which is an added plus.
Side note: don't bother with Go Set A Watchman. It's not good and changes the opinion of Scout's dad. Plus Harper Lee was not in the position to publish another book. She wrote it before Mockingbird. It was turned down and that's when she made Mocking bird. The draft for Watchman was found by her lawyer and the money grabber published it. Harper Lee had previously (while she was able to) said she didn't want to publish Watchman and that Mockingbird was to be her only published book.
So by all means, enjoy this book but don't buy Watchman.