On re-reading The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

I was just going to skim through this before discussing it at a recent Book Club, but then got caught up with it all over again. I felt just as involved, if not more so. So vivid and real was the situation that I felt again the fear of the characters  in writing down their experiences, and rightly so given the recriminations meted out by ‘white folk’ for any minor transgressions.

I enjoyed the first person patois of Minny and Aibileen as it gave a distinctive voice and character to these protagonists and added much to the verisimilitude and humour

WP_20151014_002 (1)In the book, the author has vividly re-created the Old South, stuck in a time warp in its claustrophobic backward looking society with the women especially trapped and suffocated by its conventions. And this book was overwhelmingly about the women’s relationships, good and bad. Could/ should the men have been more represented? Did this make the novel a ‘women’s only’ book?

Perhaps the redemptive ending was a bit too pat. Should Skeeter abandon the ‘helpers’ at the end to pursue her own life in New York? Had the white author herself exploited the black help in writing the book at all? It’s a contentious issue about whether one race can ever truly represent another.

I’m about to start Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in which a black Nigerian author examines race from many different angles. It will be interesting to compare the two

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