16-Dec-2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett


Rating - Read


I had borrowed my parent’s copy of The Help long before the movie had made an appearance. However, it was only after watching the movie that I got around to reading the book.

The Help is a pleasant read, focusing on the lives of a bunch of white women and their black servants, in the southern town of Jackson, Mississippi. Segregation and the class system are rife . Skeeter, a white plantation owner’s daughter harbours an ambition to be a writer. Tall, with frizzy hair, she is way behind her peers on the husband-and-kids boat. While maintaining a search for The One (prodded in no small measure by her mother), she wanders into working on a novel. Recruiting the help of her friend’s maid, Aibeleen, Skeeter begins to write about the details of black helps in white households.

It is a dangerous time to be undertaking an enterprise like this. Martin Luther King’s star is on the rise. The southerner’s rascist ways are under stress. Yet a lot of white people are hoping to hold on to status quo and would be enraged to know about the creation of a novel like this that could well be another nail in the coffin.

The settings are grim. The author, however, deliberately avoids letting the story to fall into a dark chasm. Instead there is a wry observation of the way things are (sometimes even at the cost of only a superficial glimpse of the risks the maids run)

The movie was a clever retelling of the book, snipping out large back stories and cross -pollinating episodes but keeping the essence of the book.

If you do not expect something terribly serious, filled with gravitas, then this is a good read and the movie is a good watch.

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