Tuesday, June 25, 2019

the last book I ever read (Casey Cep's Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, excerpt ten)

from Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep:

Even before Nelle was old enough to read a law book, her father had started talking about renaming his firm “A.C. Lee and Daughters, Lawyers.” Whether or not that dream ever had any appeal for her, Nelle had always been eager to please her father, and after one year at Alabama she applied for early admission to the law school. By 1947, she was officially a law student, losing even more sleep to contracts and torts. She would later say that she had enrolled only to get access to the law library, but at the time she told her family that a legal education would provide the discipline she would need as a writer and that studying the law would teach her how to think.

By the next summer, Nelle Lee had thought herself right out of Alabama. She had been accepted to the Internationl Education Exchange at the University of Oxford, and on June 16, 1948, right around the time the Reverend Willie Maxwell headed home after his army service, she set sal for Southampton on the Queen Elizabeth. She spent that summer at Lady Margaret Hall, reading widely in British literature and traveling around what seemed, to someone born and raised in the vast open spaces of the Deep South, a tiny curio of a country. Like so many southerners, Nelle regarded the United Kingdom as the cradle of civilization, and she obsessed over its history all the way down to the level of obscure Whig politicians and minor Anglican bishops. She loved the English countryside so much that when her courses finished, she rented a bicycle and pedaled around solo, staying in hostels. When word of her adventures reached Monroeville, her neighbors were alarmed, but the Lees, who had long since made peace with Nelle being Nelle, simply looked forward to the next installments of A Tomboy Abroad, which included an account of cycling into London and running into Winston Churchill while having tea.

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