Thursday, March 08, 2012

Book 8: H is for Help

The HelpThe Help by Kathryn Stockett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book tells the story of life in a Mississippi town in the early 1960s in the voice of one white woman and two black maids and does it very well, managing to communicate some of the subtleties that existed under the extreme racist veneer of that time and place and bringing in a wide and varied cast of characters. It is a book I am glad I read and one I would definitely recommend. Having said that, I didn't find it an easy book.

Many years ago Tevye visited relatives in South Africa. He remembers it as the most beautiful place he has ever been, but also remembers the profound discomfort he felt on seeing the "Whites Only" signs and the guilt he felt at using "Whites Only" facilities. This book left me feeling a bit of the same discomfort as it brought home to me just what the entrenched divide between black and white in mid-20th century Mississippi really meant - I already knew a fair amount intellectually, but this helped me to understand it on a more personal and emotional level. As a result I both enjoyed the book but was simultaneously disturbed by the insight into attitudes and a way of life that dehumanised so many people.

I'm slipping behind a bit on my 52 books in 52 weeks which has now reached week 10, though as I was a bit slow to review  The Help I am already nearly at the end of Book 9, so not doing too badly!


Jennifer said...

I really enjoyed this book as well, but found it a bit of a mystery as it mostly took place before my time and we didn't grow up (even in the south) with this kind of racism. The relationships were fascinating.

Missus Wookie said...

I read it after my Mom handed it to me. Going to Alabama last year was interesting and I was fascinated to discover my hostess's family still had maids etc. when she was young. She's that bit older than me that she remembers the sixties ;)

Run Quilt Knit Write said...

I absolutely LOVED this and amazingly the film too! One of those rare times when a film lives up to your hopes and expectations!