The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Published by Amy Einhorn Books by G.P. Putnam's Sons a member of Penguin Group USA Inc.
The publishers link including extra information about author and book:
Published 2009, 464 pages, hardback cover book
Steven Spielberg and his DreamWorks Studio is filming the movie now in Mississippi. Most of the movie will be filmed in the town of Greenwood even though the setting of the book is Jackson. There are two actors I've found playing parts: Emma Stone and Viola Davis.
I bought this book to read/review and for my book club group to discuss.
If you follow bestseller lists than you are aware that The Help has been in the top for months. Amazon ranks The Help as number 7 (for 526 days), sales rank at Barnes and Nobles 101 (not sure whats up with that), New York Times Bestseller number 3 in hardcover.
For several months I'd heard people talking about the book The Help: I knew it was about the period of time during the early 1960's, it was based in the south, the characters in the book were women, and that I was told "I had to read the book it was wonderful!" At the last book discussion (February 28) several members nominated this book to read. Our latest meeting was August 1, I'd bought the book a few months ago, put off reading it, but finally finished it last week. The book discussion we had was wonderful, wish you were there! Some of the women in the group told "their" stories. As my grandmother used to say "I just fell off of a turnip truck" because I had no idea there was such a thing as black women that worked as maids and nanny's in white homes. I was born in early 1964 and my mother and grandmothers did it all with no outside help. I knew no other relatives or neighbors that had help. I grew up in Houston, Texas--maybe we were not in the deep south and this was why. At the book group discussion these women shared "their" stories, they were from Baton Rogue Louisiana, a small town in central Texas, and Georgia. I was fascinated with their memories of the black women that worked in their homes helping their mothers, and of the way that their parents in prejudice treated them. One woman remembers as a little girl asking her mother why couldn't the little children of their hired help not go with her to school and ride the bus she road, she was told to hush!
I was born during the time period of the book The Help, I do not have memories of segregation like my older siblings have (they were born 1949-1954). My oldest sister JoAnn that was born in 1949 as a little child wondered about these signs that stated for "colored only". This is a world that seems so far removed (thankfully) from the time we are now living in.
The time period is 1962-1963 in Jackson, Mississippi. The Help is the story of a young woman that has just returned home after graduating from college, her name is Skeeter. Growing up Skeeter had had a beloved black maid in her home named Constantine. Skeeter loved her deeply. Shortly before Skeeter came home Constantine was fired. Skeeter is not given a sufficient reason considering all of the years that Constantine worked for her family. Skeeter begins to ask questions of other maids that knew Constantine. She meets Aibileen and Manny. All three of them then begin a project that opens up a unknown world to many, but also puts them in a treacherous situation.
This book is a classic.
According to Edith Wharton:
"A classic is a classic not because it conforms to a certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is a classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness."
The Help is a freshness---originality, sparkle. It is original in that I know of no other book that has been written from the black maids voice (a voice that sings of tales before unheard), it sparkles because of the three dimensional, walk off the pages characters.
Aibileen is a woman I would want to know, be my friend, be my prayer partner, not to mention I'd like to ask her advice on a few homemaking issues. She has a biting sense of humor, quick wit, heart of gold.
Minny is saucy, she could flatten you with a role of her eyeballs and her pointed index finger...not to mention her biting remarks if you cross her.
Skeeter, oh Skeeter, this girl needs encouragement, encouragement to dream her own dreams, not those that are apart of her fixed culture. I was inspired by her tenacity, honesty, and determination to finish the project.
The Help has other characters that make up those that are needed for the plot... some I'd like to snatch bald headed.
The story focuses on civil rights, but the rights for women are explored. The 1960's was a platform for both of these issues, it was a turbulent time period because there were those who fought against freedom and change.
The book was difficult for me to set aside once I started reading it. I felt a kinship with the characters, they were not just names in a book they felt to me as real tangible people.
I loved this book, loved it, loved it! The next book my book group will be reading is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.