The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee by Marja Mills... An Invasion of Privacy?

7/30/2014




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The recent publication of "The Mockingbird Next Door: Life With Harper Lee" by former Chicago Tribune reporter Marja Mills who for a time lived beside the Lee residence, was met with controversy. In a letter obtained by Entertainment Weekly, Harper Lee wrote, "Rest assured, as long as I am alive any book purporting to be with my cooperation is a falsehood."

In Marja Mills’ memoir she describes a warm friendship with the celebrated writer Harper Lee and her older sister, Alice Lee, a former lawyer who just turned 102. Another part of the letter says otherwise though, "Miss Mills befriended my elderly sister, Alice. It did not take long to discover Marja’s true mission: another book about Harper Lee. I was hurt, angry and saddened, but not surprised. I immediately cut off all contact with Miss Mills, leaving town whenever she headed this way."

In a news I just saw this morning, Mills claims that it was Harper herself who called her and wanted to meet her. Alice also sent out a letter after Harper's was released, stating that: "Poor Nelle Harper can’t see and can’t hear and will sign anything put before her by anyone in whom she has confidence. Now she has no memory of the incident."

The interview that Mills did with the Lee sisters started since 2004 and only recently published the book. Knowing how evasive and secretive Harper has been for half a century, declining interviews, why even start with this one? Did Harper think that it was a good idea a decade ago? Or did this author exploited her so called friendship with the Lee sisters? Will we ever know at all?! Or is this just another marketing strategy to sell the book? Will we ever really know?!?!

The book is intriguing and I would like to read it, regardless of any other issues. If only to see a little glimpse of Harper's life.

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