Sunday, January 10, 2010
The Help is marketed in Australia as a Great Women's Weekly Read. Normally this sort of branding would completely turn me off the book. However one of our bookclub members chose this as a Secret Santa gift. She was somewhat apologetic, but excused her choice by thinking that it would be a good, mindless read over the lovely long Summer holidays by the beach. To a degree she was right. This book is not difficult to read at all - in fact it is a real page-turner which I think is somewhat of a recommendation. But it is definitely not mindless. It is set in the 60s in the deep south of the USA. The genre is probably best described as chick-lit as the blokes tend to get a cursory treatment. It focusses on the relationships between white women and their black maids - a relationship which often extends over several generations. Many issues are explored - gender, race, mother-daughter relationships, child-care, female friendships, work/careers. This is Kathryn Stockett's first novel and I think it is a fine effort. Characters "speak" in their own vernacular which gives them authenticity. They are well drawn and the plot works well - keeping you guessing all the way as to how it will unfold. I think it's a great book for bookclub and will provoke much discussion over dinner.