Book 2 of 12 –
Mockingbird A Portrait Of Harper Lee by Charles J. Shields
February’s book for my bucket list of books, took me a couple of weeks longer to finish than I expected. But I have finally finished it, and I am excited to share it with you!
I came across this book in a bookstore in downtown Beaufort, SC. The bookstore, in itself, is a fantastic find! Nevermore Books is located in one of the buildings in the Historic District of downtown Beaufort, and is home to many hard to find and vintage books. I was just going to go in and browse. As I walked around looking at all of the books, this one caught my eye. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee happens to be one of my favorite books (Scout got her name from this book), so when I saw a book written about Harper Lee, I decided I needed to read it.
Charles Shields does a very good job introducing us to the woman who created one of the best novels ever written, though his writing style took a little getting used to for me. Do not get me wrong, it is very well written, just not what I am used to. Every now and then, I found myself going back to re-read something that didn’t quite make sense the first time I read it. That ended once I really got into the book, and got used to how he was writing though.
Mockingbird does an excellent job of walking us through the life of Harper Lee (her full name was Nelle Harper Lee), from the time she was about five, until she was about 80 years old. The book was published a good 10 years before Harper Lee passed away in 2016. It was also published prior to the publishing and release of Go Set A Watchman, which, interestingly enough, was actually her first novel that she wrote. When she wrote Go Set A Watchman and submitted it for publishing in 1957, it was written from an adult perspective. Her publisher felt that the book would be more interesting and have more character, if it were told from the perspective of Scout as a child. She then rewrote Go Set A Watchman (the title was changed as well, as her publisher did not care for that either), and To Kill A Mockingbird was written.
There are so many interesting stories about Nelle Harper Lee in Mockingbird, that it is hard to summarize this book without giving a lot of it away. One story that really caught my interest though (and I won’t go into a lot of detail, so as not to spoil this story either), was her lifelong friendship with Truman Capote (the character “Dill” in To Kill A Mockingbird is actually Capote). During the time she was writing To Kill A Mockingbird, she was also investigating the murder of the Clutter family in Kansas with Capote. Although he never gave her any real credit, she contributed greatly to his book In Cold Blood, which was based on that murder.
Mockingbird is such a great read. Anyone who has read To Kill A Mockingbird will find this book so interesting in so many different areas. It gives a whole new understanding of how To Kill A Mockingbird came to be, and the point she was really trying to get across to its readers. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. It not only gives great insight into the life of an extremely private woman, but it does so in a way that her privacy somehow still remains intact.
I am giving this book 4 out of 4 Scouts!