Book – The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Book – The Help by Kathryn Stockett

 

When the film came out, I saw it three times and deemed it the best film of 2011. As I finally get round to reading the book that it was based on, the enjoyment is positively enhanced. Yes I didn’t need to use my imagination as I knew exactly what the characters looked like.

With the premise of black maids raising white society children in Jackson, Mississippi very much the essence of the book, we delve into each one’s back story. Each one has just a strong presence in the book.

As the film is based around the writer Skeeter (Eugenia Phelan), I’m sure many of us imagine ‘The Help’ to be the actual book being written through this story. Skeeter, the white society girl, returns home from college and is applying for writing jobs in New York when a publisher gives her a book idea.

She thinks it will be easy to get several black maids to tell their story of what it’s like to be a black maid working for white families in Mississippi. She starts with the virtuous Aibileen who is on her 17th white child, one who appears unloved by her actual mother. She learns the pain of Aibileen losing her only son to a work accident and how her faith helps her to keep living.

Through Abilene, finally her best friend Minny starts telling her story and after several months, more come forward.

Each is risking their life and that of their family just by even meeting Skeeter. It’s only after a while, I realise Skeeter is also taking a risk as the civil rights movement escalates.

The more she hears their stories, the less she finds in common with her two best friends, one of whom is, she realises, is as racist as they come. In the middle of this, she is desperate to find out what happened to her own beloved maid, Constantine, who has left by the time she came home.

This is one of those cases when I didn’t want this book to end. I’m desperate to read a book about what they all did next, Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny and perhaps, the most interesting society outcast, Miss Celia.

Just like when I saw the film (every time), I feel enriched for having read this.

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