This is a fine book with wonderful characterisations, a great sense of place, peppered with delightful descriptions of everyday household events in Mississippi in the Sixties, yet exposing ugly segregation situations which made me squirm. The story is told from both sides of the racial divide, servitude, injustice, dishonesty, friendship and community support. I wanted to hug Aibileen and slap Miss Hilly. There’s nothing I can say which hasn’t already been said before about Aibilee, Minny and Skeeter so I will quote one of my favourite paragraphs which is also typically Queensland:
Chapter 29, Page 491: “The heat done seeped into everything. For a week now it’s been a hundred degrees and ninety-nine percent humidity. Get any wetter, we be swimming. Can’t get my sheets to dry on the line, my front door won’t close it done swell up so much. Sho nuff couldn’t get a meringue to whip. Even my church wig started to frizz.”
Well, maybe not that bad! Since I believe this book is, despite Kathryn Stockett denying it, partly autobiographical, she would have lived through many a long hot summer with the hired help doing all the work.
Only time will tell if this book has enough impact to reach 'Classic' status but as debut novels go, it’s pretty hard to beat. I wondered if she would pen a sequel. The gossip is that she may write about women in the Depression era in 1920’s. “The Help” has been compared to “To Kill A Mockingbird” though heaven forbid ‘cos that was the only book Harper Lee wrote. The world is waiting, Ms Stockett.
"Every story has three sides to it - yours, mine and the facts" Foster Meharny Russell