Thursday, 16 August 2012

Review: The Help

Over my holiday to Barcelona (which I'll blog about soon- with photos!) I read the book The Help by Kathyrn Stockett. It is another book that I couldn't put down, and was a lovely read.

When I was reading this novel, it brought back memories of the book Small Island by Andrea Levy. I really liked this novel, which looked at the perspective and failed expectations of people visiting 'The Motherland', Britain and the racism they are subjected to. 

The Help looks at a similar concept. It focuses on the relationship between white women and the black women they employ in their homes. These women are employed as nannies and the children they look after start to see them as a mother figure, rather than their biological mothers.

The book is written from a range of perspectives, so the main speaker changes every couple of chapters. This was a techniques also used in Small Island. It is an excellent way of maintaining the reader's interest as I really felt I got to know each character intimately and could understand their motivations. It also allows you to see different characters through the eyes of each other, and this helps to really understand the fear and prejudice linked to the different races.

There is also a lot of writing about the fashions the women wear, and this is something I am sure is captured in the film. The white females are portrayed as very stylish, while the black females wear a simple white uniform, emphasising the differences between the women.

The novel is both interesting in terms of capturing the views of a time period, the changing opinions in the 60s, and the effect of the media on this, as well as being a gripping story about the characters involved. The men are unimportant to the story and there are strong female leads struggling with issues like domestic violence, employment vs being a housewife, and illness of close family members.

I can't stress how much I loved this book, and I love it even more looking back on it. It has intrigue, family situations, a strong female voice, civil rights, motherhood and good and bad relationships. It's not often I truly love, and respect, a book so much. I enjoyed the Hunger Games, but compared to this, it felt like a light read. Not that this novel is heavy-going, it is beautifully written and completely accessible.

I can't wait to see the film, but I'm not sure I can imagine it doing justice to the book. Have you seen the film or read the book? What did you think?

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