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The Help by Kathryn Stockett




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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Published by Fig Tree in 2009

In 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi, black maids raised white children but were not trusted with the family silver. The Help presents an intimate portrayal of the relationships between African-American maids and their white employers and the children whom they cared for.

The story is told from the perspective of three characters: two domestic servants and a young woman who was herself raised by a black maid.

Aibileen has raised 17 white children in her various maid jobs, but her own son has been recently killed in an accident at a lumber yard. Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is an extraordinary cook but has lost numerous positions because of her inability to hold her tongue. "Skeeter" Phelan is a young white woman who has just returned from college with a journalism degree but not the wedding ring her mother and friends had hoped for.

Skeeter desperately wants to impress an editor at a publishing house in New York with a book idea, and gradually persuades the maids to talk about their experiences – both good and bad - working for white families. Even if the book is published anonymously, the risk is great - if any of the white ladies found out their help had been talking in public they would have fired them on the spot, but they also risk further danger as their actions contravene the notorious Jim Crow segregation laws. Tension pervades the novel as the three women engage in this clandestine project that will not only put them all at risk but also change their lives and the town of Jackson forever.

Despite its serious theme, The Help is an entertaining read full of compassion and humour.

‘Each of the many relationships between the large cast of characters is perfectly captured….. But most impressive – and attractive – is the blend of rage and humour with which she writes and that is what makes this novel at once so horrifying yet so savagely funny.’ Toby Clements The Telegraph

‘In a page-turner that brings new resonance to the moral issues involved, she spins a story of social awakening as seen from both sides of the American racial divide.’ Sybil Steinberg The Washington Post

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. This is her first novel.

The Help was rejected by nearly 50 agents before being published by an imprint of Penguin. It has become a word-of-mouth phenomenon having spent more than a year on The New York Times bestseller list. The Help was longlisted for the Orange Prize 2010.