I’d heard great things about The Help (by Kathryn Stockett) before I read it, which usually sets of alarm bells (because nothing ever seems to live up to the hype), but now that I’ve read it I’d like to say great things about it too.
In summary, I think this is one cracking book.
Set in 1960’s Mississippi, The Help gives a snapshot of the lives of a young white writer and two black maids. All three are given their own, very distinct, voice. They narrate their own stories in such a frank way that you can’t help but fall in love with them.
You could say that the plot itself, if removed from the context of an outrageously racist setting, is a little on the mundane side, but the vivid characters bring everyday events onto a whole other plain. I found the social environment in which it is set to be completely fascinating… Obviously I was somewhat aware of racial attitudes back then, but I never really considered how these attitudes affected entire communities. I thought it was very interesting to see the extremes of emotion provoked by the black maids within white households; there were instances of sheer hatred and others of profound love and loyalty.
I just love, love, loved it; it’s probably the best book I’ve read all year, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat! Not only is The Help a wonderfully written heart-warming and breaking novel, it is also educational (especially considering it’s pure fiction). If nothing else it has piqued my interest in a period of history I really know nothing about. If anyone has any recommendations of books on a similar topic, please let me know and I’ll devour them!