The Mockingbird Next Door

The Mockingbird Next Door

Life With Harper Lee

Book - 2014
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"One journalist's memoir of her personal friendship with Harper Lee and her sister, drawing on the extraordinary access they gave her to share the story of their lives. 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 novel'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 by 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 for Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation-and a friendship that has continued ever since. In 2004, with the Lees' encouragement, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, talking and sharing stories over meals and daily drives in the countryside. Along with members of the Lees' tight inner circle, the sisters and Mills would go fishing, feed the ducks, go to the laundromat, watch the Crimson Tide, drink coffee at McDonald's, and explore lower Alabama. Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the quirky 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 story -- and the South -- right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family. The Mockingbird Next Door is the story of Mills'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 Lees' 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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York : The Penguin Press, 2014
ISBN: 9781594205194
Branch Call Number: Biography B Lee
Alternative Title: Life with Harper Lee


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Mar 10, 2015

Where was the editor? Mills apparently wrote an article about Lee for a Chicago paper that apparently had real information about Lee - she tells us she did - but she doesn't include the content in the book. This book is all about Mills. Boring.

Dec 16, 2014

Nelle Harper Lee and the author drink coffee at McDonald's. Many times. Many, many times. They drink coffee at Burger King, too. They eat blueberry cobbler from Food World. They eat at a Mexican restaurant. This is less of a book about Harper Lee than it is about what she and the author ate and drank. Ugh. A waste of my time.

LaughingOne Nov 05, 2014

I was disappointed too. I likely shouldn't have been; I had read how reclusive and reticent Lee was. Mills (the author) herself kept carrying on about how unusual it was for Lee and her sister to open to outsiders, and Mills was definitely an outsider. Yet Mills presented herself as a fortunate woman who was invited into this inner circle. In some ways, the book seemed to be more about Mills, her physical illness, and what she thought about Monroeville and the people she met there, and less about really getting into the lives of the Lee sisters. I felt let down.

Aug 18, 2014

Life can be pretty boring, even for a best-selling author whose one and only book was, and continues to be, a phenomenal best-seller and often-studied treatise on southern living in the 20th century, and whose book, when made into a movie, only gained more stature, with the movie also then becoming iconic. And as I waded through this account of an unlikely friendship between Harper Lee, her sister Alice, and the journalist author, all I could think was 'wow, this is so mundane'.

beebee40 Aug 06, 2014

Mills tried hard to write an interesting book; she made a valiant effort. She is to be admired for the effort, work; however, there is much"padding", and the annoying use of "over a cup of coffee" and other repetition grates.

At the core I do not believe Mills was able to penetrate, Nelle's armor. Feeding the ducks does not reveal much about the sisters. Little was learned about the reclusive Nelle, or of Alice.

I was disappointed.


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