Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. GP Putnam & Sons, 2010. ISBN 9780399155345 464 pp. $30.00
Told from three points of view –caregiver Aibileen, mouthy Minny, and impassioned Skeeter–The Help is about Skeeter’s eye opening return from college, whereupon she begins to recognize the odd dichotomy of having staff who are like family (that are subjected to ill treatment from their employers). Skeeter, who wants to be a journalist, decides to interview African American maids about what it’s like to work for whitey.
Set at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement, the attention to details of life in the Jackson is exquisite, from what they wore to what they ate to what was on TV and in the theatres, to how to remove a ring from around a collar.
Stockwell does a fine job creating dramatic tension (whatever happened to Miss Skeeter’s family’s maid, Constantine? will the clandestine writing be discovered? Why isn’t Miss Celia accepted by her peers? Will her husband discover she has in fact, employed a maid?) without being too over the top.
Historical fiction, at it’s finest.