Thinking of Miller Place: A Memoir of Summer Comfort

Welcome to my world – or part of it!

Imagine waking up and staring into eyes exactly like yours, seeing a mouth that smiles with the corner just a little crooked, connected to a body identical to yours from double-jointed thumbs to bony shoulders?  This is only part of what being an identical twin was for Ethel Lee-Miller.

In Thinking of Miller Place Ethel Lee-Miller has crafted a memoir of childhood summers of the 1950s viewed through the lens of an identical twin.

The sense of enchantment around her grandfather’s house endows it with almost human qualities. Fulfill your nostalgic longing for New York summers or beach days anywhere, diving in the water and evenings lit by fireflies.

You don’t have to be from Long Island to escape to this enchanting oasis. Come “rest in a hammock between a childhood that was and the reality of today where you can take off your shoes and run barefoot up the hill.”

In this second printing of her contemporary memoir, Ethel Lee-Miller takes you on a visual journey that comforts, entertains, and soothes. A native of Long Island, New York, Ethel resides in Tucson Arizona with her husband. She lives just nine miles from her twin.

Reading Group Guide

A snippet of the Reading Group Guide. The full guide is in the book.

  1. Thinking of Miller Place is filled with childhood scenes of summer. Which scenes were the most memorable for you?
  2. Miller Place is depicted as an idyllic place and yet there are “pokes and holes.” Discuss the tone of the book, the “pokes and holes.” Do you think the author achieved the effect of an idyllic place mixed with that reality?
  3.  Discuss the metaphor of the red ribbon and what it signifies for the protagonist. (Intro., Chapters 1 and 5) Do you have a ‘red ribbon experience’—a time that defined your life?
  4. Ethel’s mother, as viewed through the young Ethel’s eyes, is a mix of snob and courageous person. Does the scene with Summer Cat show her mother’s softer side? (Chapter 14) How do you think the era influenced her mother’s viewpoint?
  5. The author’s father is a mix of hero and all too human man. Is this portrayal clear? How does the parental relationship compare to your family?
  6. Chapter 3 entitled “My Finn” introduces us to Eileen, Ethel’s twin. What insights did this section give you into a twin relationship? How does Ethel’s possessiveness affect her relations with both her twin and her older sister?
  7. In later years, Lee-Miller remembers Eddie and sees ‘Eddies’ in her classrooms. (end of Chapter 18). Has something like this ever happened to you? How have you over/under compensated for childhood self-centeredness?
  8. At first glance, Thinking of Miller Place appears to be a collection of assorted scenes, almost like a scrapbook. Yet the chapters reveal detail, dialogue, and emotions as if they were part of novel. What scenes do you recall from your childhood summers?
  9. Memoir is said to be a retelling of a story with the author’s memories and musing over the motivation, and subsequent changing point of view as an adult. What does the author muse about? (Introduction) What musings did your reading of Thinking of Miller Place prompt about your childhood?

The second printing of  Thinking of Miller Place has a new cover outside and updates inside, including the Reading Guide for book and discussion groups, and an update on “the Finns.”


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