Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Book Review: The Mockingbird Next Door
The author, a Chicago journalist, by sheer luck/chance/a modest letter of introduction, began a long conversation and friendship in 2001 with Alice Lee (a lawyer) and her younger, more famous sister Nelle Harper Lee in Monroeville Alabama. Marja Mills traveled to the small town to do research for a Chicago Tribune article about Harper Lee. Chicago had a book initiative and To Kill a Mockingbird was its selection.
Something clicked and Mills spent time slowly learning about the Lee sisters, their lives, love of history and literature and the south, and about fame and elusiveness. She learned about the childhood time with Truman Capote, and then life in New York. She got better insight into why Ms. Lee never wrote another book, after such huge success in her 30s. She appreciated the "great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two great women." (cover blurb)
From this rare opportunity and with Harper Lee's blessing, Marja Mills wrote this book and has allowed a glimpse into this celebrated author's life. Conversational in tone, it's thoughtful, well written, and feels like home.
p. 273 All those years later Nelle's dark hair now white, her hands arthritic, her voice in To Kill a Mockingbird still could be heard on those Sunday drives, as she and Alice remembered a place that was.