Harper Lee sits only peripherally in my mind. I last read her classic To Kill a Mockingbird in high school, but was always more fascinated by the reclusive author herself. With the recent release of the very controversial and supposed prequel, Go Set a Watchman, reading Mills’ book was perfectly timed. Marja Mills, a Chicago Tribune reporter, was in the right place at the right time a few years ago when the story she (and a number of reporters before her) was hoping to cover morphed slowly into a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We get a look behind the curtain into the life of one of literature’s most unprolific writers. Lee famously shunned the spotlight, the limelight and indeed any light anyone deemed to aim her way. But her life with her sister Alice in Monroeville, Alabama was both filled and led to her liking. Mills rented the house next door (with permission!) and we get a glimpse into Lee’s guarded life in a little town where the population both exalts and protects her privacy. Mills did an excellent job painting the portrait of a woman who is enjoying her life on her own terms. Thanks Marja, and thank you to Harper Lee for allowing this book.
2014 Penguin 273 pages