Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Help (copy)

The setting is a hot Jackson in August of 1960. Aibileen arrives at the Leefolt residence where she will raise yet another white baby. This is what she is good at—raising white babies—and from the looks of it she is in the nick of time.

The baby is wailing with colic, and her mother is pleading for her to be quiet. Not touching her mind you, she stands at a distance shushing. I go straight in to little Mae Mobley, pluck her out of the crib, and sit her in my lap. I start the bouncy, my way of easing that ole gas out and she settles down. Miss Leefolt, still standing at a distance, throws her hands in the air. “I tried everything and it wouldn’t hush! It wouldn’t stop!”

Now, Mae Mobley is two, and we are inseparable. From the time I enter the residence, she is doing the gimme fingers. No matter how many times I kiss her boo-boos and soothe her hurt feelings, you can tell it is Miss Leefolt’s attention she craves.

Today, I am instructed to keep her quiet and out of the way. The ladies are playing bridge in Miss Leefolt’s small dining room, and Mae Mobley is mere feet away in her highchair. The swinging door distracts sweetie as I come and go while waiting on the ladies.

The ladies consist of Miss Leefolt’s two college friends, Miss Skeeter and Miss Hilly, and Miss Hilly’s mom Miss Walter. Miss Walter be deaf as a doe-nob according to Minny, my friend who works for her.

During the ladies’ conversation Minny’s name comes up. Miss Hilly is saying how Minny’s stealing the family heirlooms right out from under Miss Walter’s nose. It’s not so, but Miss Walter doesn’t hear the talk and doesn’t disprove.

Naturally, I’m all ears hoping to hear more when Miss Hilly stand up and announce she needs to use the bathroom. This seems a little odd. She knows it is down the hall, but she’s waiting for Miss Leefolt to acknowledge her. Then she asks to use the upstairs bathroom. Miss Skeeter asks what’s wrong with the hall bathroom, and Miss Hilly say that’s where the help goes.

Kathryn Stockett has done a rare and beautiful thing. She has crafted an engrossing story of three women navigating the confusing Civil Rights Era in her native state of Mississippi. The Help is hands-down the best book of 2009.

24 comments:

California Girl said...

Sounds really good. I'm sure I'll want to slap some of the characters silly.

Bookfool said...

I've got a copy of The Help and I probably won't get to it for a while. Are you doing the Southern Reading Challenge, again? Maybe I could stop being unchallenged long enough to participate. I want to read Mudbound, too, but have put it off till later.

Mary (Bookfan) said...

I'm waiting to read this during the Southern Reading Challenge, Maggie. When does it begin?

maggie moran said...

Oh, they can be so bitchy California Girl! ;D

Yes, Bookfool! Join us and read those two excellent books plus a Welty! Ew, I'm happy you are even considering it! :D

I was thinking about going back to May 15, Mary. Yay, you have saved a really good one!

Thoughts of Joy said...

Engrossing, indeed! So glad to see that you enjoyed it, Maggie.

Lana said...

taht sounds really good. I'll have to go look for it :)

Carol Murdock said...

Maggie...I got an ARC of The Help and fell in love! This book is my Third all time read behind Gone With The Wind and To Kill A Mockingbird. Kathryn and I have become friends and I tell every one I meet about this book! I did several post on this book. You might want to go to "Mississippi Shines In New Orleans" post on my blog( March 8th I think) and read it! " There are NO silly Characters
in this book, it is pure Southern Classic Literature in the vein of Eudora Welty and Harper Lee!
Carol

Tiffany Norris said...

Going on the TBR list right now! Sounds great!

Carol Murdock said...

Maggie....you have an award at the porch!
Carol

Missy B. said...

Southern Fiction is my favorite! Thanks for the review...I haven't heard of this one but will be adding it to my wish list!

Lisa said...

Maggie, this one sounds so good. I have it waiting on my shelves, and I really want to get to it soon! As always, thanks for a great review.

Darlene said...

Another good review for this one. I have it waiting for me on my tbr shelf.

maggie moran said...

Yay, Thoughts of Joy! I gave a booktalk on it at the Listener's Club today! Spreading the news! :)

Put it on your Southern Reading Challenge pile, TXMommy!

Carol, I am so impressed with the writing. The way she moves the story forward at every character change instead of backing up to clarify any points/loose ends. I'll be over directly to read your insights. Oh, thanks for the award!

Happy Dance, Tiffany!

Yay, Missy! Might want to rush to the library and get on the waiting list. ;D

Lisa and Dar, save it just a little longer for the Southern Reading Challenge! :D

California Girl said...

Hi Maggie!

My latest book is called "Gringos in Paradise" about a couple from NYC who move to Mexico...down near Acapulco. True story and funny and I want to go!!!

maggie moran said...

Sounds good, Cali gal! I just went to the website and man would I love to retire "down south!" :D

Anonymous said...

I agree, this is a great book. One of my all-time favorites! It made me want to read more Southern fiction. Where can I find out more about the Southern Reading Challenge?
--Molly

maggie moran said...

Check back here Molly, for the Southern Reading Challenge. I'll be gearing up pretty soon! FYI - It is a 3 month challenge that runs through the summer while I'm out of school. :)

Sharon said...

I've already got this one on my TBR list!

maggie moran said...

Yay, Sharon! Couple more and you will have your Southern Reading Challenge picks! :)

Sharon said...

Maggie, I have an award for you..... :)
go here: http://abookwormsreviews.blogspot.com/2009/04/blog-post.html

maggie moran said...

Wow! Thanks Sharon!

DeSeRt RoSe said...

Sounds interestingly good!

maggie moran said...

Yay! Read it, Desert Rose!

nomerwahid said...

thank's for sharing info,..!
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