When the Newport Reads! Committee heard author Marja Mills would be in the Northwest this Fall, they simply couldn’t resist inviting her to visit Newport. Hosting an event featuring one of the few journalists allowed into Harper Lee’s life will enable Newport to take part in the national conversation sparked by the controversial July publication of Lee’s novel “Go Set a Watchman,” written before “To Kill a Mockingbird” and purported to have only been discovered last year.
Newport Reads!, the Newport Library Foundation’s annual community reading event, will be held in November this year! On Monday, November 2, at 7 p.m. at the Newport Middle School, Marja Mills will give a presentation on her book, “The Mockingbird Next Door,” a memoir of her remarkable relationship with Harper Lee, the famously reclusive author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
In 2001, Mills, with Harper Lee’s extremely unusual cooperation, wrote a piece for the Chicago Tribune that earned the author’s respect and friendship. Their growing bond eventually led Mills to rent the house next door to Lee and her older sister Alice for eighteen months starting in 2004. Mills became part of the Lee sisters’ daily lives, accompanying them for drives through the Alabama countryside, feeding the ducks, and drinking pots of coffee. When Mills published The Mockingbird Next Door in 2014, the Boston Globe called it “a rare, surprising, and respectful look at the Lees and their milieu.”
Copies of The Mockingbird Next Door (as well as To Kill a Mockingbird and Go Set a Watchman) are available to be checked out from the Newport Library, and Nye Beach Books has Mill’s book on sale for those who want to have the author sign their personal copy.
The Newport Public Library Foundation sponsors Newport Reads! with support from the Sylvia Beach Hotel. For more information, call the Newport Public Library at 541-265-2153 or go to newportlibrary.org.