Thursday, 26 January 2012

Book Review: The Help


Instead of spotlighting an author today, I decided it was time for another book review. One of the most thought-provoking novels I read towards the end of last year was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Set in Mississippi during the 1960s civil rights movement, this is the life-afirming story of three women who helped to change the perceptions of their small-town world.

When young white college graduate Skeeter returns home hoping to start a career in journalism, she discovers her beloved maid, Constantine, has gone and no one will tell her why. While her mother's only concern is that her daughter will make a good marriage, Skeeter soon discovers another side to her town in the lives of the black maids and she sets out on a life-changing course of action.

The other two main characters in The Help are Aibiline, the wise and wonderful maid who has brought up 17 white children, sometimes providing the love and affection they're denied by their parents, and Minnie, Aibline's sassy, loud-mouth friend who has a talent for cooking but can't keep a job. When they become involved in Skeeter's project, it is amidst the fear of being discovered and the subsequent horrific risk to them and their families.

While the characterisations are first class, it is the strength of the story line, the authentic setting, and the humanity that makes this an unforgettable novel. It is hard to imagine that this kind of situation existed during the swinging sixties, and it reminds us of the hard-fought battle for basic human rights.

The Help is now a film but I haven't managed to see it yet. If anyone has read the book and seen the film - do you think the film was an accurate portrayal of the novel?

Rosemary

16 comments:

Teresa Ashby said...

I absolutely loved this book. It now ranks among my favourites of all time. A keeper. I haven't seen the film yet x

Joanna said...

My daughter has read the book and also seen the film. She loved the book and has passed it on to me to read. It has joined my ever-growing pile!
She thought the film was excellent too and a very worthy adaptation of the brilliant book.
I shall be doing things the other way round, as I saw the film, which I adored, first.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Glad you enjoyed it too, Teresa!

I quite like watching a film and then reading the book, Joanna - the book usually fills in all the detail!

Anne Gallagher said...

I've seen the film, only because I heard it was a faithful rendition of the book. (I actually went to high school with "Abilene" Viola Davis.) The movie was outstanding. I can't give it high enough marks for excellence and hope it sweeps the Oscars.

joanne fox said...

I've heard so many people say great things about this book. Must try and find it in the library next time I go.

Maggie May said...

I've just bought this book and it's waiting on my shelf. Looking forward to reading it.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Glad you enjoyed the film so much, Anne - I'll look out for it on DVD.

It really is excellent, Joanne, and as Teresa said, one to keep.

I'm sure you'll find it totally absorbing, Maggie.

Patsy said...

I've not read this yet - it's on my list.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

A 'must read', Patsy!

Diane Fordham said...

I must put that book on my list of 'to reads'. Sounds really good Rosemary. Thanks for the post. x

Moira said...

I had to read it to see what all the fuss was about. And now I know, it is a real page turner. I can see why it was made into a film.

Rosemary Gemmell said...

You're welcome, Diane - it's well worth reading.

Hi Moira! I'd love to see the film now to compare.

Jude Johnson said...

The Help is one of the best books on the subject of racism I've ever read. It stayed true to the times and the way people treated (still treat, in come cases) The Help. I haven't seen the film yet, but my mother-in-law --of the Old South of the sixties, ahem -- loved it.

~Jude
http://jude-johnson.com

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Jude - thanks for your comment. That must have been interesting for your m-in-l to see how it was portrayed!

Elizabeth said...

Fantastic book and Fantastic post.

GREAT blog....OLD FOLLOWER.

Just stopping by to look around.

Elizabeth

Silver's Reviews

http://silversolara.blogspot.com

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Hi Elizabeth, good to see you! Thanks for commenting.