Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Up to the screen - The Help

Finally - the second issue of this new series on this blog featuring books that became films.

Today I will present a more recent book (and film): 

THE HELP (2009) by Kathryn Stockett.

In an nut-shell

Jackson, Mississippi - 1962: Skeeter is a 22 year old woman - and she is very much aware that she isn't born to be a beauty queen: her hair is too unmanageable and she is way too tall.. Besides: unlike the other females of her age (and all of her friends of course) she does want to write instead of becoming a mother and housewife. It's not like she is all against it - it's just not the way she wants to be and that much to the chagrin of her mother.. Oh - and Skeeter is going to write: She will write the real stories of the black House maids who are working for her friends and other families. Those who take care of so many little white babies while their own are taken of care by others. Those who shall be invisible as possible - and for sure it would be better when they'll have their own lavatories.. (...) 

Two of those maids are Aibileen who's son died early and who by now takes care of the 17th little white child (a cutie called Mae Mobley..) - and Minnie who's big mouth just led to her losing her last job. Of course all interviews have to stay a secret just like their identities - because at this point in history they could not only cost them their reputation but way more..

~ The Italian Cover  ~

The author - also just in a nut-shell:

~ Kathryn Stockett - source: NY Times ~
  • Kathryn Stockett was born and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. 
  • She studied English Literatur and moved to New York (you might see a parallel to Skeeter in the book..)
  • For nine years she worked at magazines. 
  • By now she lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and daughter.
  • THE HELP is her first novel. In 2011 it was made into a film.
  • According to Goodreads.com she is working on her next novel.
  • Here is the link to her page: KathrynStockett.com

~ The German title is a euphemism for servants. It means:  Good ghosts... ~

My thoughts about the book... ...and film:

I enjoyed both though I have to admit that especially the book (I watched the film some months after reading the book - so I was already biased there..) is at parts quite foreseeable and it's filled with clichées. It is really an easy read and that Aibileen, Minnie and Skeeter are telling from their point of view by turns so that you'll have three "narrators" adds an interesting twist. It is a really enjoyable book which won't give you a headache - and it is at parts really exciting. Not of the heartattack kind of exciting though - but .. well.. it's nice.. 

~ The Dutch cover - the title says: "A scullery-maid"

I think it's one of those simple summer reads filled with likeable characters - well.. almost all are.. but to be true: the meanie is a bit unidemensional..

About that famous "chocolate-pie episode": I can see why Ms. Stockett needed it here for the story - but I just wished it would have been something less silly and more elegant as a solution.. I've been told that some of my friends wouldn't eat a chocolate pie after reading this book - I can't say anything about that for I never was too fond of chocolate - so it did not mean a thing to me..

~ The Swedish Cover.. ~

Though the book was a little bit unaspiring in my opinion - I think I will read it again at some point because it really is a nice read. Nothing against some fluff literature at times.. And I think it's a good thing to have an easy read about such an important theme like racism - or the role of females in the early 1960s.. Awareness doesn't have to wear glasses all the time.. - agree?

And to be honest: I loved that the end wasn't too kitschy!

~ The Spanish cover saying: "Maidservants and mistresses" ~

My favourite character was Celia (unsettled - busty - completely unaware of unwritten rules - always just a smithereen next to style..) to whom I really could relate.. In the film she was played by Jessica Chastain - and also in the film she was my favourite character.. Skeeter reminded me a lot of a good friend of me - who is also quite tall and frequently struggling with her hair.. (In case you read this, dear: I LOVE your hair! It's beautiful!)

The film has of course some meanderings - e.g. the problems between Skeeter and her mother are a bit shortened. It has a great cast and I really recommend the film - just by the way: Kathryn Stockett appears in a small part, too.. 

Here you can have a look:

Thank you very much for listening!

Yours very well and truly,



  1. When the movie came out last year, my MIL and SIL went to see it. They loved it...told me I needed to see it. My SIL then read the book. Loved it...told me I needed to read it.

    Alas, here is it several months later and I have neither read the book nor seen the film. My daughter owns both, so I have no excuse for not having done so yet...except that I am generally loathe to following the crowd. So, if something is popular and everyone is doing it, you can be pretty sure I won't be. Since it was the "in" thing, I refrained. Now that it's not the "hot" thing, I can enjoy it.

    1. Haha.. same here, Patti! ;") I hate when people tell me that I "have to" watch/read/etc. something - esp. just because it's the "in-thing"..

  2. I think you've hit it on the head here: the book (and the film) are certainly not hard hitting in terms of their treatment of the subject but often it's these more mainstream discussions that get the most attention. It's incredibly important to discuss the mistakes of our past and when it comes to thing like racism we often see heavy handed portrayals a la Schindler's List. By no means a little film and achingly beautiful (in the way that it treats the dignity of those in peril) but not something that you want to sit down and watch on a regular day.

    I find that I have to "work up" to watching films like that and console myself for some time afterwards. This doesn't help the discussion because what ends up happening is we avoid. As in life, the difficult topics should be broached so I thought in that respect both the film and the book were effective. Unfortunately this is by no means something that's entirely in our past and the Hunger Games racist tweets debacle highlights that all too well.

    Very thoughtful review, glad to have read it!

    1. Thank you so very much, Siobhan, for your very kind words - and thank you even more for your very thoughtful comment. I can't find any other answer fitting better than just: agree.


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")