Monday, February 18, 2013

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

The Oscars Are Coming! The Oscars are Coming! (Academy Awards,February 24, 2013)

I love to watch the Academy Awards. Now, I’m not one of those people who resurrects her old prom dress and dons a tiara or invites a load of girlfriends and makes a great party out of the event.  I don’t think that would fly very well in my house.  Usually, my husband will pretend to be totally enthralled in some show hoping I would forget about the Oscars. He particularly dislikes the preshows. He’d rather poke his eye out than watch another star on the red carpet telling us who designed their gown.  Frankly, I don’t care either.  It’s not like I’ll be buying any of those dresses soon.

I do want to watch the show, though. And I will print out a list of the nominees (, circle my choices, and root for my teams.  Last year I took it one step further in that I sent my husband downstairs to watch TV then set myself up with a nice glass of red wine and some dark orange chocolate to go with it. I felt I had a personal stake in the 2012, 84th Academy Awards since our book club had read The Help, which was up for Best Picture; Best Actress, Viola Davis (Aibileen); Best Supporting Actress, Jessica Chastain (Celia), AND Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer (Minny).

I was on the edge of my couch, quietly chanting Viola, Viola, Viola! She did such a good job of playing Aibileen, I just knew she would win. But wouldn’t you know it, Meryl Streep ripped that Oscar away from her.  I was very sad—angry really. Meryl has won so many times in the past, wasn’t it time for someone else to get a pat on the back?  Cheering for the actress in a supporting role was a little more difficult since both, Jessica Chastain (Celia) and Octavia Spencer (Minny) were both nominated.  When they announced Octavia’s name, I jumped up and whooped just like my husband so often does during football games—but this was my game. And my team just scored!  I was thrilled!  Sad for Jessica, but still thrilled that The Help had made a touchdown!  In the end The Artist beat The Help for Best Picture, but for me The Help was definitely number one and the book was even better.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is another one of my all-time favorite books, ranking right up there with Water for Elephants. Set in volatile Jackson, Mississippi in the early sixties, this story revolves around Skeeter, a budding reporter, who clandestinely interviews the black hired help. She starts with Aibileen, her friend’s maid.  Aibileen is a soft-spoken, intelligent, caring woman who has raised countless white babies in her career.  Of course in such precarious times, she’s reluctant to say anything about her working conditions, but Skeeter eventually gets her to open up. 

Minny is a spunky, sassy maid who works for Miss Hilly, a slimy, controlling bigot.  When Hilly fires Minny, she seeks out her own revenge before she finally finds another job with Celia.  Celia is a clueless, sweet woman considered white trash thanks to Hilly. The book meanders through each of the women’s lives telling their own storylines which melt together like a delicious bowl of unadulterated chocolate.  

As a whole, our book club members really liked the book.  We cared about the characters and the story. Some thought it dragged on a bit at the end, but I don’t agree. I loved it from beginning to end, could you tell?  If you haven’t read it yet, I hope you will.

Happy reading!


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  1. I liked the book and the movie very much. Same with "Water for Elephants" the book and the movie was great.

  2. This book is an amazing view on the civil rights. The varying southern women's perspectives is refreshing and surprising. I truly felt like I knew the characters and really enjoyed reading this book. Well done.
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    1. Thanks for your comment. I thought this was a great book, too! It made me laugh and cry. Very memorable and touching.