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Kathryn Stockett – The Help

29 December 2011 No Comment
Kathryn Stockett- The help

Kathryn Stockett- The help

The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960s. A USA Today article called it one of 2009’s “summer sleeper hits”. An early review in The New York Times notes Stockett’s “affection and intimacy buried beneath even the most seemingly impersonal household connections” and says the book is a “button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel”. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said of the book, “This heartbreaking story is a stunning début from a gifted talent”.

The novel is Stockett’s first. It took her five years to complete, and was then rejected by 60 literary agents before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett. The Help has since been published in 35 countries and three languages. As of August 2011, it has sold five million copies and has spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.

The Help’s audiobook version is narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell. Spencer was Stockett’s original inspiration for the character of Minny, and also plays her in the film adaptation.

Plot summary

The Help is set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi and told mainly from the perspective of three women: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen is a black maid who cleans houses and cares for the young children of various white families. Her first job since her own 24-year-old son was killed on his job, is caring for toddler Mae Mobley Leefolt. Minny is Aibileen’s confrontational friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them. Her actions have led to her being fired from 19 jobs. Minny’s most recent employer was Mrs. Walters, mother of Hilly Holbrook. Hilly is the social leader of the community, and head of the Junior League. She is the nemesis of all three main characters.

Miss Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan is the daughter of a prominent white family whose cotton farm employs many African-Americans in the fields, as well as in the household. Skeeter has just finished college and comes home with big dreams of becoming a writer. However her mother’s big dream for her is to get her married. Also topics such as the sudden disappearance of Constantine, the maid who raised her, cloud her mind. Skeeter’s family tells her that Constantine abruptly quit,then went to live with relatives in Chicago. Constantine who had been writing to Skeeter the while she was away at college most recent letter had promised her a surprise upon her homecoming. Skeeter does not think that Constantine just left and continually pursues anybody and everybody with information about her to come forth, but nobody will discuss the former maid.

This life that Constantine led while being the help to Skeeters family led to the realization that her friends’ maids are treated very differently from how the white employers are treated. She decides (with a little assistance from a dead man and a publisher) that she wants to reveal the truth about being a colored woman in Mississippi is really like. Written in the first person from the perspective of Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter, this book covers the struggles Skeeter experiences to communicate with the maids and gain their trust, as well as the issues of overcoming long-standing barriers in customs and laws by all of the characters. The daily lives of Southern women and their maids during the early 1960s in Mississippi are explored and no stone is left unturned. The dangers of undertaking writing a book about African-Americans speaking out in the South during the early ’60s hover constantly over the three women. [Source]

Download ebook: Kathryn Stockett – The Help

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