One incredibly sticky morning just before Christmas last year, I was driving to the shops to get my weekly fix when I saw a sign saying ‘Book Sale’. Naturally I had to investigate. It turned out that a local distributor was having a book sale, and when I say sale, do I mean sale. Incredibly reduced book bargains everywhere! Fighting my way through the crowd, I found myself in the thankfully air-conditioned showroom. There, stood a copy of The Help in between a range of cookbooks for just $10. I had been a little wary of this when it came out due to the Women’s Weekly seal of approval (some are great, some are just…not) and decided to get it later. On the bargain side of things, I was glad but I was also disappointed that I hadn’t let this book into my house earlier.
Fast forward to the depths of winter and I finally pulled The Help out of my TBR pile. I immediately felt guilty that I hadn’t started it the moment I got home months earlier! This book had me from the first sentence. Kathryn Stockett creates three wonderful first person narrators- Aibileen and Minny, both African-American maids in 1960’s Jackson, Mississippi and Skeeter, single college graduate returning home to the plantation. I felt I could hear each of them speaking in my ear as I read.
At first, I couldn’t see how the three characters would link up, being separated by race in their town. I don’t want to give the plot away, but yes, they do link up by a great idea- which then turns to have some serious consequences.
The author does a wonderful job of characterisation, with each character (even minor ones) given unique traits and forms of speech. I enjoyed Celia’s misguided attempts to fit in with the other girls and Skeeter’s determination not to give into her mother.
I highly recommend this book- I couldn’t put it down (even cancelling an appointment to go home and read). 9.5 out of 10.
(And if you’re wondering…I’ve been watching, but no more sales from the book distributors).