Book Review

The Mockingbird Next Door


When I recently picked up this book that had been widely and positively reviewed, I was drawn to it for the way in which the author did her research. The book, which is non-fiction, is The Mockingbird Next Door, by Marja Mills, and its focus is on the life of the very, very elusive Harper Lee, author of To Kill A Mockingbird. Ms. Lee never wrote another book after this one, and, increasingly and insistently, shunned the public eye. How, then, did Marja Mills come to befriend Harper Lee and her sister, Alice, to the extent that she ended up renting the house next door (at Harper Lee’s suggestion, no less) for a time?

This was what fascinated me. Oh yes, I was interested in learning about Harper Lee, her town, her friends, and the South, all of which I did. But what most intrigued me, still does, about the book is the quiet, gentle, insightful way the author won the hearts of these women. There was nothing nefarious about it, nothing stealthy. From the start, she was blunt about why she had come to town, but she wasn’t frenetic about it.  Afflicted with lupus herself, her lifestyle was, of necessity, more quiet and measured than some.  Beyond that, she genuinely enjoyed the sisters and their environs, and respected their needs to a fault.


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