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The Mockingbird Next Door: Life with Harper Leeby Marja Mills
Synopses & Reviews
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. But for the last fifty years, the noveland#8217;s celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almost nothing on the record. Journalists have trekked to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has lived with her sister, Alice, for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversationand#151;and a great friendship.
In 2004, with the Leesand#8217; blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Leesand#8217; inner circle of friends.
Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the storyand#151;and the Southand#151;right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family.
The Mockingbird Next Door is the story of Millsand#8217;s friendship with the Lee sisters. It is a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two women, especially that of Nelle.
Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle Harper Lee, to be part of the Leesand#8217; life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how To Kill a Mockingbird affected their lives, and why Nelle Harper Lee chose to never write another novel.and#160;
"Former Chicago Tribune reporter and first-time author Mills befriended the famously private Lee sisters of Monroeville, Ala., back in 2001, and moved into the house next door in 2004. Initially on assignment from her newspaper to gather information on Harper Lee (known as Nelle), neither Mills nor her cameraman, Terrence James, had any illusions about succeeding where countless other journalists had failed. But they were charged with at least trying to make contact with the famously reclusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird. Here, Mills recounts the surprisingly easy and natural way she did indeed meet, first, older sister Alice, a still-practicing attorney in her 80s, and then Nelle, whose sharp, eccentric personality, keen opinions, and generous reminiscences make this a must-read for fans. Subjects covered include the tribulations attending a first-time novelist's instant fame to Lee's childhood friendship with Truman Capote. An atmospheric image of the South, then and now, emerges as Mills recounts daily life with the sisters, as well as time with Nelle in her longtime second home, New York City. While upfront about what few areas (mostly 'to spare the feelings' of living persons) must remain off the record, Nelle's sweet friendship with Mills elicits a forthcoming portrait of the author, her family, her time, and her South that is thoughtful, witty, and rich in feeling. Agent: Miriam Altshuler, Miriam Altshuler Literary Agency. (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
and#147;A winning, nuanced portrait. . . . It seems unlikely weand#8217;ll ever have a better record of a remarkable American life.and#8221; and#151;USA Today
To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. Yet for the last fifty years, the noveland#8217;s celebrated author, Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has said almost nothing on the record. But in 2001, Nelle and her sister, Alice Finch Lee, opened their door to Chicago Tribune journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversationand#151;and a wonderful friendship. Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle, to be a part of the Leesand#8217; life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how To Kill a Mockingbird affected their lives, and the reasons Nelle Harper Lee chose never to write another novel.
About the Author
Marja Mills is a former reporter for the Chicagoand#160;Tribune and a staff Pulitzer Prize winner for a 2001 seriesand#160;about Oand#8217;Hare Airport entitled and#147;Gateway to Gridlock.and#8221;and#160;The Mockingbird Next Door is her first book.
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