Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Help - Book Review

Last week, I finished reading the book ‘The Help’ by Kathryn Stockett. I started this book after the conversations of similarities between the house hold of southern states in the 60s to the maid servant mentioned in the book ‘The space between us’ based in Mumbai. This book as I had mentioned was part of our book club reading last year and evoked a lot of conversation about women and their rights in general.

The movie, ‘The Help’ also came out last year and I had to read the book before I watched the movie. I loved reading the book and even though I was falling behind on reading my current book club book but I couldn’t put it down.

I liked the writing style of the author and the way she developed the characters, you could almost feel their presence and imagine their voiceless frustrations. The book is about the black ladies who served as ‘Help’ in the white homes often neglecting their own homes and kids and a white lady’s effort to bring their point of view to light. It was set in the early 60s during the thick of the civil rights movement. The burning issues highlighted in the book would have been relevant at any time even today but the back drop of civil rights movement added a clichéd drama for added touch.

The words and situations in the book often transported me and I found myself in the familiar pages of books read previously, like the living conditions maid servant of ‘The space between us’ in the slums of a developing country and the way she was forbidden from sitting on the same furniture that she cleaned every day.

Also, in ‘The American Wife’, there was mention of clubs where blacks weren’t forbidden to join but there were still no black members. And also the stern reprimand tone of Alice’s Mother-in-law when she went to the Opera with the house maid. Although these were a few years after the Civil Rights movement and the book was based in Chicago but it’s interesting to monitor the pace of change, seems so slow when one is working towards it and eagerly anticipates its arrival.

I guess dramatic revolutionary changes effect the minds of a few people who care to think different and then those minds slowly churn the wheel of time and set the stage for change. Had those few people not acted on their impulse and on their belief or had procrastinated to act on their decisions, we’d never had seen the change. I guess, I am veering off topic, but needless to say I like books that make me think and especially if the main characters are women. It made me think about the past, about how we live and take things granted today and also about the things that I am procrastinating on and need to take action…

And about the book but a slight different topic, the Doves on the cover of the book and their significance is inspiring me to paint my own Doves, hopefully soon.

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