Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy

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Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy

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Category: Reference
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: A touching and enlightening look at a book that is beloved all over the world, Scout, Atticus & Boo is a fantastically compiled collection of essays and interviews surrounding Harper Lee’s unrivalled classic - To Kill A Mockingbird.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: June 2015
Publisher: Arrow
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1784753054

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First published in 1960, To Kill a Mockingbird is not only a beloved classic, but a touchstone in literary and social history. Scout, Atticus & Boo commorates the fifty years plus since To Kill a Mockingbird was published, and discusses its impact with contributions from Oprah Winfrey, James Patterson, Adriana Trigiani and Wally Lamb amongst others – particularly Alice Finch Lee, Harper Lee’s older sister who passed away last year.

I’ve always been an avid reader – my grandparents and parents frequently encouraged me to pick up books, and as an only child for the first ten years of my life, books were all I needed for company and for entertainment. As I child I read everything I could get my hands on – but To Kill A Mockingbird, recommended by a friendly teacher, was the first book I picked up that made me realise that a book could change opinions, transport you to a different time and place, help people, and change the world. And whilst I realise that may sound a tad pompous, thankfully the people who have contributed to Scout, Atticus & Boo seem to agree with me, offering reflections and illuminations on Harper Lee’s work.

This book is a marvellous collection of memories and thoughts surrounding To Kill a Mockingbird - the book begins with an excellent essay written by the author, commenting on her love for the book, and how it holds such a special place in the hearts of many – it’s a rare book that children all over the world are made to study, and yet very few seem to dislike. The essay also touches on the 1962 film – one of those rare occasions when a film can match up to the power and inventiveness of the book, and the reason why I can see no one else as Atticus Finch but Gregory Peck. The book then takes the form of contributions from various figures – mostly authors, but also intriguing figures such as Harper Lee’s late sister Alice, Oprah Winfrey, and the actress who played Scout in the film production, Mary Badham. All of which are interesting and highly personal reads, and its fascinating to learn about the impact of To Kill a Mockingbird on people of different races, on its impact on race relations in general, and how it has affected the publishing of both southern gothic novels and bildungsroman to this day. Full credit to Mary McDonagh Murphy for commissioning and compiling contributions that are both hugely relevant and also touching and powerful – this is a swift and hugely enjoyable read.

Harper Lee herself is an intriguing presence in the various contributions. Whilst not the agoraphobic hermit she seems to often be portrayed as in the press, she comes across as a hugely likeable presence – brilliantly clever, with a rapier like wit, and a humble woman who is truly delighted with how far her work has reached.

I think it goes without saying that this a book for those who enjoy To Kill a Mockingbird – this is not a piece of literary criticism, but a joyous celebration of a beloved book. With the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird , Go Set a Watchman due to be published in July 2015, this is a timely examination of a book that is treasured by so many. If you’ve ever encountered wise Atticus Finch, the misunderstood Boo Radley, the brave Tom Robinson and the headstrong Scout, and wish to be illuminated on the books history and its long lasting legacy, then this is a wonderful, emotional read.

You may have guessed what my further reading is – To Kill A Mockingbird is a classic, and I think a strong contender for the greatest novel of the 20th century.

Buy Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy at

Buy Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Scout, Atticus and Boo by Mary McDonagh Murphy at


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