Adult Book of the Month
The Help by Kathryn
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
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