The Help

The Help

February 10, 2009

In 1960s Mississippi, Southern society girl Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns from college with dreams of being a writer. She turns her small town on its ear by choosing to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent whit...

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NovelHistorical Fiction

464 Pages
4.7

Available Formats :

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Book Content


In 1960s Mississippi, Southern society girl Skeeter (Emma Stone) returns from college with dreams of being a writer. She turns her small town on its ear by choosing to interview the black women who have spent their lives taking care of prominent white families. Only Aibileen (Viola Davis), the housekeeper of Skeeter's best friend, will talk at first. But as the pair continue the collaboration, more women decide to come forward, and as it turns out, they have quite a lot to say.

The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African Americans working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s.

 

A USA Today article called it one of the "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."

Kathryn Stockett is an American novelist. She is known for her 2009 debut novel, The Help, which is about African-American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the 1960s.

Stockett worked in magazine publishing while living in New York City before publishing her first novel, which she began writing after the September 11th attacks. The Help took her five years to complete, and the book was rejected by 60 literary agents before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett. The Help has since been published in 42 languages. As of August 2012, it has sold ten million copies and spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list. The Help climbed best seller charts a few months after it was released.

Stockett began writing the novel — her first — after the September 11th attacks. It took her five years to complete and was rejected by 60 literary agents, over a period of three years,[5] 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 had sold seven million copies in print and audiobook editions, and 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.

Awards and honors

 

    Orange Prize Longlist (2010)

    Indies Choice Book Award (Adult Debut, 2010)

    Townsend Prize for Fiction (2010)

    Exclusive Books Boeke Prize (2009)

    SIBA Book Award (Fiction, 2010)

    International Dublin Literary Award Longlist (2011)

    Christian Science Monitor Best Book (Fiction, 2009)

Film adaptation

Main article: The Help (film)

 

A film adaptation of The Help was released on August 10, 2011.Stockett's childhood friend Tate Taylor wrote and directed the film.

 

Parts of The Help were shot in Jackson, MS, but the film was primarily shot in and around Greenwood, MS, representing Jackson in 1963.

 

At the 84th Academy Awards, Octavia Spencer won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in this film. The film also received three other Academy Award nominations: Academy Award for Best Picture, Academy Award for Best Actress for Viola Davis, and Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Jessica Chastain.

 

Review:

theguardian.com

AmySharps

Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, 'The Help' by Kathryn Stockett shows the peak of racial segregation. The book is narrated by three very different women; Minny, a black maid unable to keep a job due to her hot head, Aibileen, another black maid who is raising her 'seventeenth white child', and Miss Skeeter, at the opposite end of the spectrum, a white woman who wants to be a writer. She has been brought up by black maids since she was young, and longs to find out why her much-loved maid, Constantine, has disappeared.

 

The help are the black community who spend their lives bringing up the children of upper-class white families. With their own children being looked after by someone else, the help spend their days feeding, dressing and playing with the children they are employed to look after, only to see them grow up and turn out like the rest of the white community, discriminating against the people who have raised them.

 

Aibileen dedicates all her working time to Miss Elizabeth Leefolt's child, Mae Mobley, whilst trying to heal the scars left by her own son's death. Minny finally manages to find a new job working for Miss Celia Foote, who, luckily for Minny, is too new to the town to know anything about her. Aibileen and Minny have their own problems at home, as well as those surrounding their work for the white families.

 

Miss Skeeter is finally given her big break when she gets the chance to get her work published. However, she needs to find something interesting that people will want to read. When she has the idea of writing a book about the dreadful life that the help lead, the three women team up, and the help reveal the cruel and unbelievable experiences they have faced whilst working for the people who discriminate against them. This shunned friendship unbelievable is a huge risk for the help, as if found out they could be fired immediately.

 

Kathryn Stockett manages to merge fact and fiction perfectly, exploring different emotions ranging from sadness to happiness - sometimes all in the same paragraph. Stockett has not only written an unforgettable, at times humorous and all-round brilliant story; this is also an informative masterpiece, educating people about life of the help in the segregated society of Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, using some of her personal experiences of growing up in the deep south.

 

 

 

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