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July Fiction Book Club: Kathryn Stockett's The Help

(36 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Tue 28-Jun-11 13:37:06

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StewieGriffinsMom Mon 11-Jul-11 16:54:05

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KD0706 Mon 11-Jul-11 23:39:28

I loved it too SGM. Stayed up till 1.30 am to finish it, despite knowing I'd have an early morning wake up from DD.

Marking my place for Wednesday.

BellaBearisWideAwake Wed 13-Jul-11 12:37:11

I won't be here this morning, and I read this a while ago, but I want to (a) check in with this thread and (b) say that I loved it. Really interesting and revealing. I loved the subterfuge, and the way they stopped Hilly from admitting the book was about their town.

I'm embarrassed to say that as I was reading it, I was stressed about the main character, the writer's (sorry don't have book in front of me and can't remember her name) relationship with her boyfriend and how it would inevitably break down if she revealed what she was writing. Why? Shouldn't I have been thinking that she shouldn't be with him if he didn't get it? Was I putting myself in teh place of someone in teh story and thinking don't rock the boat, your life will be ruined?

The whole way through reading it I was so so worried that someone nice would get killed. That is why I just raced through the ending

This book really made me think. I miught actually buy it (got it from school library)

BellaBearisWideAwake Wed 13-Jul-11 12:37:23

I won't be here this evening

minko Wed 13-Jul-11 13:51:27

Loved it. Loved the characters, the pace, the stories. Fab. Need some recommendations of similar books...

DomesticDuddess Wed 13-Jul-11 15:07:56

'The Help' is such a great book, I borrowed it from a friend, and am going to go and buy it! The characters are so well described, and it gives a fascinating insight into that period in American South history. A great read!

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 13-Jul-11 17:06:16

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BellaBearisWideAwake Wed 13-Jul-11 18:00:43

There were some good men in the story? Am I remembering right? The husband who loved his wife and didn't want to leave her as she imagined because she couldn't cook or have children? I wasn't expecting that.

Portofino Wed 13-Jul-11 18:02:17

I loved it too - won't be able to make it tonight though sadly as on holiday and promised dd some fireworks later.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Wed 13-Jul-11 21:06:59

I thought it was brilliant. One of the best books I've read. The pace was good, the topic was interesting and engaging, the characters were well formed and both likeable and sympathetic. I was very surprised to realise at the end it had been written by a white woman.

I liked the way that with Aibeleen and Minny the prose was as they would say it rather than how the author would say it.

Overall I think that the sense of privelege emanating from the white women, even Skeeter, was overwhelming. Stockett really put that across well. I agree with SGM as well that there was an undercurrent and threat of violence throughout the book. There was also references to child abuse and neglect. It was refreshing that the male characters generally took a back seat although their presence was always felt, despite the fact that none of them did anything domestically at all!

And I thought it was really sad at the end for Mae Mobley. I just wanted to pick her up and hug her.

Bella - I thought that part of Skeeter always recognised that Stuart wasn't right for her and that he was in fact quite a weak man. And Celia's husband was nice although he did leave her very upset after the ball to go hunting for the weekend hmm.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 13-Jul-11 21:15:24

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StewieGriffinsMom Wed 13-Jul-11 21:23:01

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BellaBearisWideAwake Wed 13-Jul-11 21:23:55

Yes I thought minny would die.

I was so upset about mae mobley. My son is the same age and it really affected me.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Wed 13-Jul-11 21:27:06

The way Skeeter's relationship with Hilly and Elizabeth changed as well throughout the book was also interesting. She started off almost looking up to them and ended up not liking them very much at all or respecting them. It was as if she grew up during the book and they didn't. With regards her mother I suspect that if her mother wasn't ill she wouldn't have been so protective but she was always seeking her approval. It was almost a parallel to MAe Mobley and Elizabeth - but a few years hence.

You are right though that the violence was compelling. I was glad that although a number of them lost their jobs none of them were physically hurt or killed as a result. And I'm glad Minny got out.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Wed 13-Jul-11 21:28:50

I had to go and hug my DS in tears (even though it was about 1:30am when I finished the book!) when I got to the end because of Mae Mobley. I am such a softie!

SinicalSal Wed 13-Jul-11 21:33:41

It's a while since I read it, but loved it.

Looks, husband catching, husband keeping, children, housework. Women's stuff, black or white.

A very affecting bit was Aibileen commenting that she only had a limited window with Mae Mobley before colour became an issue. Something like They all turn out like their Mamas.

SinicalSal Wed 13-Jul-11 21:34:31

Poor little Mae Mobley. My dd is two as well. sad

KD0706 Wed 13-Jul-11 21:37:54

I didn't like skeeters boyfriend. I loved that she eventually went to the big smoke to follow her dreams. After being held back by so much.

I think all the women found freedom in the end. Minnie left the abusive husband and abeline (probably spelled that wrong) seemed content, giving up her job, thinking how she would spend her days

KD0706 Wed 13-Jul-11 21:41:32

Yes I agree with everybody about poor Mae mowbley. Elizabeth had an awful relationship with her own mum so she probably didn't know how to be a mum

swallowedAfly Wed 13-Jul-11 21:45:06

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SinicalSal Wed 13-Jul-11 21:47:08

Skeeters mum was a prime example of how insidous the patriarchy is. You often get people saying It doesn't exist, men are not standing over women forcing them to buy shoes and bake cakes - they like it. But Skeeters mum shows how conditioning works - we only know it's conditioning because Skeeter rebels against it.

Remember the bit when Hilly turns up, all upset, wanting to have it out with her? She's too upset to bother with her usual grooming. And Skeeter's mum tells her she looks awful 'And no young husband wants to come home after a long day to that, dear' (paraphrasing)

KD0706 Wed 13-Jul-11 21:53:34

Yes sinicalsal I think that the women were putting each other down and reinforcing the patriarchy.

HandDivedScallopsrgreat Wed 13-Jul-11 22:02:01

I agree KD - the women that didn't find "peace" were Hilly and Elizabeth really.

It really opened my eyes to what it must have been like for the black women. Basically living on a knife edge as to whether they had a job the next day.

And yes the influences of the patriarchy were running all the way through the book from the threat of violence to how the women dressed and behaved. There was just no male input on the domestic front at all (apart from Celia's husband) other than how things had to be. Even amongst the far less priveleged black families the men were still more priveleged.

swallowedAfly Wed 13-Jul-11 22:04:32

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