The Help - Kathryn Stockett
I've had this book stored on my eReader for maybe a year, I downloaded it after reading a review and then went onto to read other stuff and forgot all about it.
Wow. What a read. I read it in three days, thanks to being on the kind of holiday where lying in the sun and reading is obligatory while the kids refuss to do anything other than jump in and out of the pool.
The book is set in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's around the tine of Kennedy's assassination. The rest of the world was starting to take heed of racial relations whilst the state of Mississippi decided that it alone was right and the rest of the world should align itself with them.
The story is told through different voices, there is the voice of Aibileen, a maid in her 50s whose only son died a few years back. Then there is the voice of Minny, a younger maid who has four or five chldren (and by the end of the book is pregnant again) with a husband who drinks and beats her, Minny is forever getting the sack from her white employers because she talks back.
Miss Skeeter is the lone white storytelling vooice, the only one of her group still unmarried and living at home at the ripe old age of 23. An oddity who they try to matchmake for. She wants to be a writer but is told by an editor in New York that she needs to get as much writing experience as she can before she'll be taken seriously. Skeeter gets a job at the local paper writing the 'Miss Myrna' column of household tips, the irony being that she has to ask her friend's maid (Aibileen) for these tips as she hasn't got a clue how to answer the problems like how to stop a rubbish bin from smelling or how to remove a limescale ring from a bath tub.
Skeeter then has an idea for a book which the New York editor likes the sound of. A collection of first hand accounts from coloured maids working for white families. The editor likes the idea because it is the year of the Martin Luther King march and there is a real sense of history about to be made, unfortumately for Skeeter Aibileen says no, it's too dangerous for her to help, when the son of a friend has just been blinded after a beating becausd he accidentally used the whites only toilet. Fortunately for Skeeter, Aibileen has a change of heart and so the book project gets started under the greatest of secrecy, everyone adopting psuedonyms, all identities changed, and more than that I shant tell.
It's a great book, I thoroughly recommend it, get it, I don't think you'll be disappointed.