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What was it really like to be a black maid?
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
Member Name: lyndsey1989
The Help - Kathryn Stockett
Advantages: Characters, interesting plot
I kept seeing this advertised but I didn't ever look into reading it because it didn't look like it would appeal to me and I hadn't heard from family or friends that it was a must read. However, when I heard they were making it into a film I decided it must be worth looking into so after reading the product description on Amazon I decided to give it a go even though it didn't sound like my usual light hearted chick-lit.
The book is set in 1960's America in a town called Jackson. There was still segregation between black and whites at this time and a lot of white families had black maids working for them. First of all we meet Aibileen who works for Elizabeth. Aibileen tries to enjoy her work as much as she can, although Elizabeth does like to think she's above her she adores Elizabeth's two year old daughter Mae-Mobley.
We then meet Minnie who is also a maid serving a friend of Elizabeth's. Unlike Aibileen, Minnie hates her job and doesn't hesitate to tell people how much of a witch she thinks her boss is. At home things aren't easy for Minnie either who has an alcoholic and abusive husband.
Skeeter is a friend of both Aibileen's and Elizabeth's bosses. Unlike her friends she is not married yet and has just returned from college. She is an aspiring writer and needs to find an interesting concept to write about in order to attract a publishers attention. She too had a maid when she was younger, Constantine who she adored but since returning from college she has discovered Constantine has left and nobody will say why. After mulling this over, Skeeter decides it would be very interesting to learn more about a maid's life. However, no black maids would risk their jobs over a white ladies book, would they?
I wasn't sure if I would enjoy this book but as soon as I began reading I was absolutely hooked. Usually I take at least a week to read a book as I do like to pick it up and put it down numerous times, however I managed to get through about a third of the book in one morning which is extremely rare for me.
The story is told from the perspectives of Aibileen, Minnie and Skeeter. Each chapter is from a different point of view and in order to understand who is speaking each chapter begins by stating the womans name at the top. The chapters are not in an order where each woman speaks in turn, for example you can sometimes have two chapters from the same woman in a row. Initially I thought that I would rather the entire book was from Aibileen's point of view but I quickly realised how much more opinion and information we as the reader received from all three women. I think it was especially important to hear from Skeeter as she was supposed to be on the other side of the fence. The fact that the book is written from three points of view means there is always something interesting going on. To begin with I preferred chapters from Aibileen and Skeeter but when Minnie changed employers I found her new situation fascinating and looked forward to hearing more from her.
The three main characters are all very loveable despite being very different. I think my favourite character was probably Aibileen, she was a strong, proud woman who worked very hard and was also quite lonely after the murder of her son a year or two previously. Minnie is a hilarious character and she is very bubbly and fun, she is not afraid to speak her mind and it is easy to see how her mouth can easily get her into trouble. I loved the character of Skeeter as she was so different from what she should have been, she was not afraid to stand up to her peers and was well educated and empathetic.
There is one main goal in the story and although the ending of it can be predicted from the start there are lots of surprises along the way. By having three main characters it allows the author to put in three times as much action and events.
The writing style of the book is written how the women would say it. For example, Skeeters chapters were written in well spoken English which were very easy to follow and AIbileen's and Minnie's were written how they would speak, for example Aibileen says 'I done called everbody'.
The plot flows very well throughout the novel and I certainly enjoyed reading it. I felt compelled to read and read to discover what happened next and I was quite disappointed when I reached the end. The ending was done very well and was perfect in my opinion but I wanted to read more, maybe there will be a sequel?!
The book was written by Kathryn Stockett.
It was published by Penguin in 2009.
It has 476 pages.
The book is available from Amazon for £3.86 for the paperback edition or £3.99 for the kindle version.
A film has been released of the book and is now available on DVD (£11.99 from Amazon).
The film was released in 2011 and I saw it a few weeks ago on Sky Box Office. I had been very much looking forward to seeing the film and I did enjoy it. I thought it was a good representation of the book however there were parts that were missed out or changed which I felt were important to the plot. However, on the whole I thought the film was brilliant and I would definitely watch it again.
A very good book which has taken the book world by storm. Very enjoyable for any lovers of fiction and certainly recommended. The three main characters are all loveable and interesting and provide a lot of entertainment. One I could read again.