Thursday, 1 March 2012

Book Club Read - The Help

For those of you who are looking for a new, wonderful read, we're going to make our Book Club a regular feature, with a new book every month. If you read our last pick, Before I Go To Sleep, we'd love to know what you thought of it!

This month's read is The Help - it's been out a while, so many of you may already have read it. But, if not, get buying! It's kinda brilliant.

Oh...and we never even realised this until after we posted. But it also happens to be World Book Day today! So get reading...

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
(Available from Amazon for £4.39)

Described as "the other side of Gone With the Wind," The Help has achieved huge success, with the film adaptation shortlisted for best film at this year's Oscars. In fact, I can't believe that it has taken me so long to actually sit down and read this book - I have never heard a bad word uttered about it!

The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960s and follows the story of three female protagonists: two black domestic servants, Aibileen and Minnny, and Miss Skeeter, a young white woman who is desperate to become a writer and to make a difference.

It didn't take long before this book made me angry - very angry, in fact! Within pages, you learn of the prejudices Aibileen and Minny face as they work in their white households. While they are trusted to raise the children, they aren't trusted to not steal the silver. In fact, in many cases, they aren't even allowed to use the same toilet as their employers.

Despite the boundaries holding them back, Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter become firm friends. As they work together on a book to expose the callous treatment of black servants, they realise just how at risk their project is putting them. Not only will it change Jackson forever, but it will also change their lives too.

It's incredibly rare for a book to have you both laughing out loud or wailing hysterically into a tissue, but The Help did just that. In fact, I experienced such a roller coaster of emotions when I read it that my husband was probably seriously considering my sanity.

While I'm an emotional soul anyway, I defy this book to not break anyone's heart.  The main characters will stay with you for a long, long time, thanks in part to Kathryn's wonderful writing. From the maternal Aibileen to the feisty Minny, it is rare to find such warm, three-dimensional characters in a book.

This book is worth every glowing review that I have ever read. It manages to be heartbreaking, angry and funny, and is sure to be a modern-day classic. A must read!